This train is coming like a ghost train
July 26, 2015 3:46 AM   Subscribe

 
Parliamentary: Adj; having limited service and being of use to no-one or only a tiny number of persons, merely existing by virtue of being too expensive to close. From Parliament, the supreme law-making body under the British Constitution, which has limited service and is of use to no-one or only a tiny number of persons, merely existing by virtue of being too expensive to close.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:00 AM on July 26, 2015 [13 favorites]




This is fascinating, especially the "Taking a private trip..." link. I like the optimistic note that at least the ghost services offer the possibility that the line will return from the dead.

It's also interesting that in general we stick to the laws even when the laws are absurd, something that's not true everywhere.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:46 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Londonist Londonist rides a ghost train.
posted by carter at 4:59 AM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Perhaps most important of all, the term ghost train implies something that only a special few know exists. The press contact of the National Rail Museum of York, for example, was baffled by my request for an interview about ghost trains, thinking I wanted to discuss “haunted items” in the museum’s collection.


"what ghost trains? We don't have any ghost things AT ALL? I have no idea what you are talking about."

I am now very suspicious about the possibilities of supernatural occurrences hidden at the National Rail Museum of York.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:13 AM on July 26, 2015 [13 favorites]


Perhaps most important of all, the term ghost train implies something that only a special few know exists. The press contact of the National Rail Museum of York, for example, was baffled by my request for an interview about ghost trains, thinking I wanted to discuss “haunted items” in the museum’s collection.


"what ghost trains? We don't have any ghost things AT ALL? I have no idea what you are talking about."

I am now very suspicious about the possibilities of supernatural occurrences hidden at the National Rail Museum of York


"Oh, you mean the Poltertrain?" "No, sorry, just trains nobody rides on."

Excellent journalism job BBC, way to bury the lede there.

Londonist Londonist rides a ghost train.

Kinda wish he'd interviewed the other passengers, particularly the one that was on from the beginning.
posted by selfnoise at 5:23 AM on July 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


The rail lines are along the paths of ley lines and the Laundry isn't about to let them stop being walked, even by machines...
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:51 AM on July 26, 2015 [26 favorites]


They can't stop the trains. They can't tear down the stations. They've tried everything. They dismantle the tracks but the next week they've returned somehow. The drivers don't remember getting on. Sometimes one of them will realise, partway through, what's happening and try to stop the train, but their hands can't move. The railways tell you a story about government regulations and workarounds, the government hastily adds some extra clauses so nobody gets suspicious, and after a while everyone starts to believe it. Even the driver, who tells himself he could stop the train any time he wants to, as he keeps his hands on the controls and his eyes on the track and ignores the background noises of whatever is sitting in the carriages behind him.
posted by eykal at 6:08 AM on July 26, 2015 [60 favorites]


They could send train executives to the US for instruction. We're experts at not running trains here.
posted by octothorpe at 6:11 AM on July 26, 2015 [16 favorites]


This reminds me of my current reading of Charles Stross's Annihilation Score, where the scariest parts actually are the bureaucracy.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:12 AM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also sort of reminds me of China Mieville's Kraken, just in that I'm sure that world must have Ghost Train Cultists.
posted by selfnoise at 6:14 AM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ghost trains
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 6:21 AM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


At least they're not causing confusion and delay.
posted by drezdn at 6:22 AM on July 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


"There is no train to Snaith" sounds like the title to a Dr Suess book.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:34 AM on July 26, 2015 [12 favorites]


Polesworth, which had six weekday services as recently as the 1980s, now has one – the 07.26 to Crewe. Passengers cannot travel southbound, because the footbridge to the up platform was removed six years ago and no one bothered to put it back.

I grew up in a house on the street next to that station! I think before they took bridge down they started locking the station without warning or reason for random periods, which made using it for commuting impossible. People would turn up and find they couldn't get into the station, and had to watch their train stop and leave without them. We've not quite got the hang of customer service culture in the UK.
posted by BinaryApe at 6:36 AM on July 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


I knew about the Parliamentary trains - they pop up in the media every five years or so as someone rediscovers them - and the UK's transport network is full of odd twists of history that have almost, but not quite, been cut off like oxbow lakes from the mainstream.

But I was delighted to learn from the Private Train link that there is a place on the London rail system called Pouparts Junction. One trusts it is never the cause for congestion and backed-up services.
posted by Devonian at 6:41 AM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been marginally involved with a group seeking to improve a Parliamentary Train service, by giving some extra publicity for the service in one of the communities along the line. We're lucky in a few respects. One being that the line in question is a useful freight line and so would never be closed. Were passenger services to be removed it would only be downgraded, and the savings made are not so tempting given that they would still face protests. The service is also on the edge of usability, and the locations served have populations big enough to generate worthwhile passenger numbers.

The real issue is that most of the locations have much better train services along different lines, and improvements to the Parliamentary service are needed to attract new passengers. Yet "new" passengers would mostly be cannibalized from those other services. I can understand why train operating companies might be unwilling to invest or make changes in such circumstances.

The train company seems willing to make small investments—new station furniture, for example—and at least entertain the possibility of making changes to the timetable. Several changes have been proposed: the first service needs to be made earlier, waiting periods could be reduced, an extra train could be run at little extra cost. They're in consideration and might be delivered in the next few years.

But a recent plan to replace two pedestrian bridges shows that major investments won't happen. The existing railway bridges date from Victorian times and prevent reduced-mobility passengers from using the station. New bridges with ramps would be a boon to ridership, and the campaign group have collected statistics to show that currently some passengers are displaced to a nearby station (on a different line) with ramps. But the company is intent on the cheaper option of a "like for like" replacement which has only step access. If the new bridges last as long as the existing ones then disabled people cannot expect to use the stations this side of 2100. It's an awful possibility.

The local authorities have been mostly helpful, improving signage, access, and presentation. They seem to be keen to get more passengers on the trains. Local MPs likewise are willing to speak in favour of it, both in the media and Parliament. Together they add to the pressure that the campaign group can bring.

So what are the numbers? Last year ridership at my local station topped 900 a year for the first time in many years, and there are hopes this year's total will be over 1,000. A small deal, maybe, but considering how few trains there are it's actually rather impressive. We could expect a full service to attract tens of thousands of passengers from this station alone, and the whole line may serve hundreds of thousands (though, as said, many would be shifting from existing services). I hope and believe that we're going to be one of the successful ones and escape our fate.
posted by Emma May Smith at 6:49 AM on July 26, 2015 [19 favorites]


I don't know if 'ghost' is really the right term - maybe 'zombie trains' are a better description, as these are services that should die, but don't.
posted by The River Ivel at 6:51 AM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Looking at some of the schedules listed on Wikipedia, most of those would be called "a pretty good train service" in North America.
posted by scruss at 6:55 AM on July 26, 2015 [26 favorites]


But the definitive thing about zombies is that they have already died. These trains are hanging on to life. As Emma May Smith says their resurrection would drain passengers from other services I suggest we call them vampire trains.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:58 AM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you're going to have midnight trains, I suggest they be of the ghost variety and not of the meat variety.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:00 AM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would settle for the special kind.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:24 AM on July 26, 2015


So that's what Costello is referring to.
posted by about_time at 7:25 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Vampire trains would never run during the day - obviously the most appropriate undead or lycanthropic entity here is the skeleton. No, that would suggest the trains are morphologically incomplete ... Uh - Wight? Ghast? Wait a minute I have my Monster Manual here somewhere, just give me a minute. Or 2d4 turns, max.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:38 AM on July 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Is the music in the 2nd BBC link from Reich's Different Trains, or does it only sound similar?
posted by univac at 8:18 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Tell them Large Margaret sent thou!"
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:45 AM on July 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


thee
#notallpedantsespeciallytheincorrectones

posted by Wolof at 9:01 AM on July 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is the most British statement ever (first link):
To celebrate his 50th birthday, they went to Berney Arms in Norfolk. “It has to be one of the maddest places we have both been to,” he says. “No words can describe how isolated this place was.” The closest road was three miles away; the only nearby structures were a shuttered pub and an old windmill.
A) You just used words
B) Three miles from a road is indescribably isolated? SO BRITISH.
C) You can reach it by boat. And on foot. And by train. And the defunct windmill is a monument. And the pub is bustling.
D) SO BRITISH
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:41 AM on July 26, 2015 [12 favorites]


I was hoping these would turn out to be the early-morning "milk trains" that people are forever having to catch in P.G. Wodehouse stories.
posted by lagomorphius at 9:44 AM on July 26, 2015


i can assure you right now that the silver car at the back of the train that gets left at the ghost stations is definitely *NOT* being used to perform alien autopsies.
posted by indubitable at 10:16 AM on July 26, 2015


Love the Specials reference in the title
posted by clockzero at 12:34 PM on July 26, 2015


Insert Edge of Darkness reference. Work here done.
posted by Molesome at 3:54 AM on July 27, 2015


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