Let the train take the strain? I think not!1
September 2, 2016 by Whispering Smith
Whispering Smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette August 18th 2016
My father spent his whole life working for Southern Rail first as a porter then a shunter and finally as a guard. I met him one time by accident on Victoria Station on my way home on leave after signing off from the tanker the Esso Cheyenne in the Pool of London. He asked me if I had a ticket and I told him, no, so he led me through a side gate and I rode home with him the guard’s van, a rough wooden floored caboose with one seat, a periscope, a dozen push bikes and a hamper of racing pigeons. When we reached Littlehampton he gave me a copy of the Evening Standard, his leather flag and lamp bag to carry and he carried my case and told me to give the paper to the ticket collector. He nodded to the man who thanked me for the paper and we crossed the road to the Terminus public house where he bought me a pint of bitter. That was the only time I ever saw him at work and the journey took about an hour and three quarters. Last week travelling from Victoria it took nearly three and a half hours. The suits say they want to provide a better service to their customers and the union says it wants to provide a safer service and we are, literally, jammed in the middle. Both sides are entrenched in their positions and there is no giving way from either. It is my belief that there are unseen outside forces at work here and that somewhere, somehow, someone sees some long term gain for them if the trade union is broken. I feel they will not bend and as the current ACAS talks falter, this interminable misery is set to continue for some time yet. Maybe if I offered to pay the ten bob I owe them for that long ago dodged fare it would help…
Am convinced you’re right about string-pulling in the background, but really enjoyed reading the memory of your journey from Victoria Station, and also where you’d come from (Esso Cheyenne).