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Wimbledon - A Celebration
automation taking the pleasure out of shopping?
24 January 2018)
Fare Rises - Should the Railways be Renationalised?
2 January 2018)
Grant broadcasts daily on Surrey Sound from 9am to midday.
looking at the morning's papers, he delves into the day's top news
Read his take on
the news with his regular blog articles.
Re-enactment Events - Sanitising History?
year we are commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World
War - the war to end all wars.
was the end of the war for France and Great Britain was also the
beginning of a catastrophic disaster for Germany. The end of WWI changed
the nation, ushering in the 1918 revolution that brought down the
monarchy and installed the fractious, short-lived Weimar republic that
led, ultimately, to the rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime.
Germany, the trauma and atrocities of World War II completely overshadow
the Great War and in schools, teachers often regard the events of
1914-18 simply as a prelude to the much larger disaster to come.
this year anti
Semitism was very much in the news with the Labour party being embroiled
in a row over the matter. There is also the rise in far-right political
organisations across Europe which to some have shades of Germany in the
August I came across a story of a Jewish lady who spoke of her fear
after seeing people "dressed in SS officer uniform" at a
living history event in Wiltshire.
she cried when she saw people in German military uniforms from the
Second World War.
was fascist fetishism," she said. "People were posing with
said that this was a gruesome part of history that needed to be handled
with care and there needs to be a duty of care to people attending these
descendants are from Europe, and although I don't know by name who
perished, I am sure members of my family died in the Holocaust."
seems that Nazi items were on sale at the West Wiltshire Military
Vehicle Trust (MVT) event and an original Star of David arm patch Jews
had to wear was on display. John Wardle, secretary of MVT, said there is
nothing illegal about selling Nazi memorabilia.
has led me to think about World War 2 re-enactments in general. These
seem to be popular with a number of heritage steam railways around the
country. But do these events show the horror of living through the war?
Or is the story sanitised entertainment?
will admit to some indirect personal experience. My father was brought
up in Romford and experienced the Blitz - his home was bombed by a
doodlebug and neighbours suffered casualties from these attacks. My late
mother was German and narrowly escaped the bombing of Dresden in 1945.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway barred
a group who dress as German soldiers for its annual World War 2
decision not to include the Das Reich group came in response to negative
publicity in the press. For the past 12 years, the railway station at
Levisham, near Pickering, has been turned into 'Le Visham', a
German-occupied town in northern France.
Robertson, from the Das Reich group explained that the scenarios used
were aimed at educating the public and were not intended to cause
offence. The railway say their wartime events are to remember and pay
our respects to the railway men and women who fought and lost their
lives during WWII, recreating history through re-enactment.
in their publicity they say:
the three-day event families can hop on board steam and heritage diesel
trains and relive the amazing spirit and camaraderie of World War II
whilst enjoying various war-themed entertainment . . ."
take exception to that description. World War II was not
"war-themed entertainment" to be "enjoyed". There
may well have been "amazing spirit and camaraderie" but there
was also fear and real loss of life.
how to other heritage railways portray these kind of events?
Severn Valley Railway, in their publicity for their event earlier this
turn the clocks back to the 1940s with this light-hearted journey back
to wartime Britain."
somehow don't think the residents of Coventry who survived the bombing
on the 14 November 1940 would say it was a time to be light-hearted. The
operation that night involved 515 German bombers who intended to destroy
the factories of Coventry in a single night. Such an operation could not
be achieved without heavily hitting residential areas.
flares were dropped in the first wave, followed by the discharge of high
explosive bombs that shook the ancient city. That was followed by wave
after wave of incendiary bombs. This created the perfect firestorm. Many
of those who died, and there were mercifully few compared to the bombing
of Dresden in 1945, were asphyxiated - the lack of oxygen, smoke
poisoning and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Severn Valley Railway's publicity continued:
a fantastic selection of daytime attractions up and down the line, get
dressed up and join in with the celebrations with costumed re-enactors
on our stations and in our trains helping to tell the wartime
the numerous activities were Big Band Shows featuring 1940's music. But
thinking back to Coventry, their line "The
night is sure to go out with a bang . . . an air-raid is looming"
is in my opinion rather insensitive.
be fair to the railway, they do acknowledge that ".
. . the Severn Valley Railway event is, as always, primarily an event to
recall the Home Front atmosphere during World War II and the majority of
our re-enactors will be dressed for this period, there will be soldiers
in WWI uniform at this commemoration."
about other heritage railways?
Mid Hants Railway held their war time event in June.
Transport yourself back in time to the 1940s, against the backdrop of a
Second World War railway, to experience the 'Blitz Spirit'.
unlimited train travel and mingle with civilian and military
re-enactors, hop off at each station to explore period displays, music,
dancing, vintage vehicles and stalls selling retro wares.
station provides you with a different experience of life in wartime
Britain. Help run the recreated RAF Plotting Room, dance alongside GIs,
learn about the ‘Home Front’ and wartime railway manufacturing or
have your hair styled for the 40s. There is something different at every
on the Line is as much about reliving this period as enjoying the rush
of the steam engine."
don't think anyone visiting will experience the 'Blitz Spirit'. I doubt
my elderly relatives who survived the blitz in East London will say it
was a time of music, dancing with GIs or having your hair styled. It was
about surviving the demolition of your home, spending hours in a cramped
air raid shelter and mourning lost family and friends. My grandmother
took in an 8 year old orphan boy whose mother and siblings died when
their home was bombed.
there was a blitz spirit but one of determination in the face of fear.
Can the Mid Hants Railway really recreate that?
to say ". . . come along to
soak up the atmosphere, War on the Line is a unique way to enjoy a day
on the railway."
would suggest that a line like that is disrespectful to those who
survived, not least because they can't recreate the atmosphere.
Great Central Railway in Loughborough invite you to:
to mock battles, live music and theatre- there's more activities than
ever before! Dance to the music of time gone by with live acts to
entertain you throughout the weekend . . ."
Hundreds of re-enactors will bring the stations and trains to life
wearing period clothes, giving twenty first century visitors the closest
experience to time travel they can get."
speaks for itself really. However the railway do say that:
always, remembrance is at the heart of the event. On Sunday morning
there will be a church service and on Sunday afternoon there will be a
drumhead service and a 'poppy shower' tribute as we remember."
then there was the unfortunate event on the Bluebell Railway in May
War on the Line event in May 2009, included the re-enactment of a
summary execution of a German spy at Horsted Keynes station by British
soldiers. It would appear for nothing more treasonable than carrying a
bottle of beer. The Military Police corporal administered the shot to
the back of the head.
sorry? Was that re-enacting the past?
definition for re-enactment, according to the Oxford Dictionary is:
out of a past event. As
a definition: ‘Historical re-enactment is a type of role-play in
which participants attempt to recreate some aspects of a
historical event or period’.
story was picked up by the national press including the Sun and led to
quite a debate on social media. Comments on the railwayeye.blogspot.com
website include these from people who thought this 're-enactment'
was a worthwhile activity:
"I think it was all done in
good taste, it certainly makes it more realistic."
"If people get offended by that then maybe we should outlaw all
films showing such actions which mean historic footage of WW2 going into
the bin etc..."
do think this was in good taste as even children understand the concept
of war, just that they don't have a concept of how graphic it was. And
as for the German tourists etc. well they understand that a war happened
between us and them and it was resolved.
It's not like they put up a
sign saying 'Germans are evil'."
correspondent thought these World War II events should be renamed
know, the music, the vintage vehicles, the trains, the posters
everywhere, the dress, the 'rationing', air raid precautions, etc. All
of that is what makes it a fun event! The military aspect - in my
opinion - shouldn't really go further than a few 'home guard'
were not convinced by the event:
is fine but this stuff is effectively ‘tabloid’ history and demeans
those who fought for our freedom 70 years ago".
the preservation movement come to? Summary executions as a form of
family entertainment? Thank heaven no railway has a rake of cattle
trucks otherwise we might see a 'tasteful' re-enactment of trains to...
(deleted for reasons of taste)".
for this being 'a lesson to kids' - fantastic: we now have mock summary
executions as a form of entertainment for children. It's a travesty of
the truth, history and in poor taste."
British forces (even the irregulars like the Home Guard) would not have
carried out summary executions if they had arrested a suspected
find the whole idea of a 'family' event that is centred around the
greatest loss of life in history to be idiotic in the extreme. These
events should be remembered, yes, but not used as a money spinner for a
though I agree that history should not be forgotten and that mistakes
from our past should be remembered simply to learn from - there is a
time and place for everything."
"I am certain that if anyone was there with very young kids they
would have been outraged. I have a 5 year old and the last thing I would
want to take him too is a mock execution. There seems to be a real lack
of common sense here. In an age where knife and gun crime is starting to
plague our youngsters do we really need to show kids maybe as young as 3
or 4 a 'mock' execution done for entertainment purposes?"
"Unlike certain other world
powers at the time, the British were keen to ensure that the unwritten
rules of warfare were followed. That's not to say that there weren't
regrettable incidents (e.g. Bomber Command's targeting of the German
last comment is well intended but I am not sure that accurate.
Command did bomb many residential areas in the Ruhr and other industrial
areas of Northern Germany and these were not regrettable but deliberate
attempts to destroy the munitions factories to reduce the Nazi's
Dresden was not considered 'regrettable'. Whilst by February 1945 the
end of the war was in sight, Bomber Command, under 'Bomber Harris'
deliberately set out to destroy a beautiful city with no meaningful
industry that contributed to the German war effort. The wisdom of this
action is still debated to this day.
people see Churchill as the great war hero who stuck to the rules and 'fought for Britain'. But going back to the Coventry bombing of
November 1940, there is the strong suspicion that Churchill and the Air
Ministry knew in advance about the target and chose to keep it to
themselves. The reason being to protect the Bletchley code breakers from
has been suggested that he took the philosophical stance of
utilitarianism, whereby the sacrifice of the few could be sanctioned in
the name of the greater good.
these thoughts in mind, I wonder whether the British were that keen to
"ensure the unwritten rules of warfare were followed" or
whether pragmatic decisions were taken to ensure victory?
am not advocating that heritage railways should stop these World Ward II
re-enactment events. They can be educational and give a younger
generation a glimpse into that period of this country's history. Some
railways do turn the spotlight on the war's unsung heroes and tell the
story of the drivers and firemen driving trains loaded with hundreds of
tons of munitions in black-out conditions through the night.
of these railway workers were civilians and their courage should be
recognised. We should be telling the story of railwaymen like Benjamin
Gimbert and James Nightall. But alas this doesn't make a good show
that can attract the punters.
two world wars are a major part of our history. The Nazi's were
particularly brutal and what they did to Jews and other 'undesirable'
minorities was sickening and memorials such as the Auschwitz camp in
Poland are a permanent reminder.
that is not to say all Germans in the 1930's or even during World War I
were bad or evil. I'm sure you know the story of Shindler's list and the
danger this brave German put himself in to help and protect his Jewish
workers at his factory. Other Germans had no choice but to join the
there was a choice - fight for the Nazis or take a bullet in the back of
this backdrop of death and destruction on both sides, I do find the
World War II events on heritage railways do to a large extent sanitise
will leave the last word with the North Yorkshire Railway. In their
guidance notes to re-enactors, they say:
note that we do not allow anyone wearing German uniforms on any of our
stations or trains. They are also not welcomed in the towns along the
Railway. Please show consideration as we have many original veterans
attending the event.
remember the reason we have the event is to remember and pay our
respects to the railway men and women who fought and lost their lives
during WWII, recreating history through re-enactment."
script - Benjamin Gimbert and James Nightall
Gimbert and James Nightall were driving an ammunition
train (June 1944). As
they approached Soham station, Gimbert noticed the wagon behind the
engine was on fire. He made Nightall aware of it and stopped the train,
but by the time it had come to rest the wagon was enveloped in flames.
instructed Nightall to uncouple the rest of the train. Without
hesitation, he uncoupled the wagon, knowing full well it contained
explosives, and then rejoined the driver on the footplate. The blazing
wagon was close to the station building and Gimbert realised it was
essential to move it into the open.
He set the engine in motion and as he approached the signal box he
shouted to signalman to stop any trains that were due and indicated what
he intended to do.
that moment the bombs in the burning wagon exploded and a massive crater
some 20ft deep and 60ft wide was blown in the middle of the railway and
all the station buildings were destroyed.
many as 600 buildings in Soham was damaged. Nightall was killed outright
and Gimbert was severely injured. The signalman, Frank Bridges died
later from his injuries.
Wimbledon - A Celebration
As the 2018/19 football season gets under way and England bask in
the glory of their progress in the World Cup, there is one story
that seems to have missed the mainstream sport press.
club was set up by supporters of the old Wimbledon FC back in 2002
when their club was moved from SW London to Milton Keynes.
what have AFC Wimbledon done that merits particular mention. They
are currently in League 1 and will play in this league again next
season. But the team that was taken to Milton Keynes back in 2002
and had also been in League 1 last season have been relegated to
the first time in the history of the club, AFC Wimbledon will be
playing in a league above MK Dons. This is particularly satisfying
to AFC Wimbledon fans that saw the club start in the low levels of
non league football and work their way up to their present
position – unlike MK Dons.
first let’s look at why the old Wimbledon FC moved.
FC was founded in 1889 and was based at Plough Lane from 1912 to
1991. During that time they moved from being a non league to one
of the founding members of the FA Premier League.
memorable success was the 1988 FA Cup Final when they beat the
League winners, Liverpool. They were known as the “Crazy Gang”
this being down to the boisterous and eccentric behaviour of the
following the publication of the Taylor Report recommending all-seater
grounds for top-flight clubs, Wimbledon left Plough Lane to
groundshare with nearby Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
FC "at home" at Selhurst Park against Manchester United
- August 1996
This was supposed
to be a temporary arrangement while Wimbledon sought a new stadium
site in south-west London. With no tangible success, the club’s
Chairman, Sam Hammam proposed new locations for the team outside
London, including Dublin.
In 1997 Hammam
sold Wimbledon FC to two Norwegian businessmen, Kjell Inge Røkke
and Bjørn Rune Gjelsten and the following year the Plough Lane
site was sold for a supermarket redevelopment.
in Buckinghamshire, the Milton Keynes Development Corporation had
for a number of years planned a stadium in the town hosting
top-flight football and was keen on the idea of an established
League team relocating there.
In 2000 a
consortium led by Pete Winkelman proposed a large retail
development in Milton Keynes including a Football league-standard
stadium. Luton, Wimbledon, Barnet, Crystal Palace and Queens Park
Rangers were all approached to consider a move to Milton Keynes.
Charles Koppel was appointed chairman and in 2001 announced that
the team intended to relocate to Milton Keynes. Koppel said the
club would otherwise go out of business.
Such a proposal
was unprecedented in English football and the Football League
refused permission for the move. Koppel launched an appeal,
leading to an FA arbitration hearing and subsequently the
appointment of a three-man independent commission. In May 2002
this commission ruled in favour, two to one, for the move.
League and FA contributions were summarised in the commission’s
report as concerns that a relocated club would, in effect,
"drive a coach and horses through the pyramid
structure", "herald, or risk heralding, a franchise
system for football whereby the investors in football could
relocate clubs at will" and "dramatically change the
defining characteristics of the English domestic game where clubs
are identified with the locality or community built up over
its part, Wimbledon's statement centred on the club's precarious
financial situation and a claim that its case was unique. It
stressed that Wimbledon had lacked its own home stadium for 11
years. Milton Keynes was Wimbledon's "last chance of
their submission, they claimed that Wimbledon's
identity—"traditions, history, colours, name, strip,
stadium design and the like"—would be preserved in Milton
Keynes and supporters from London would be offered subsidised
travel and tickets.
the decision was made – which was to be final and binding, the
FA stated that it still strongly opposed the relocation. It
emphasised that its recommendation to the commissioners had been
against the move. The chief executive of the FA, Adam Crozier,
said that he believed the commission to have made an
spokesman for Milton Keynes Council said the people of Milton
Keynes were looking forward to the team's arrival, stating:
"It will be of great benefit to the city. Milton Keynes is
becoming a city of sport."
at all the above, firstly Milton Keynes is not a city and the
promise of keeping Wimbledon’s identity and offering fans
subsidised travel – well that never happened.
Keynes at that time had it’s own football team, Milton Keynes
City, a non league team which, with the right support and
injection of capital, could have risen through the football
pyramid to achieve league status but Pete Winkleman’s consortium
preferred to buy a league place rather than develop a home grown
Keynes City FC was subsequently wound up.
the FA said at the time, if a club breaks links with its community
and moves to a new community with a new identity and yet won’t
relinquish its place in the pyramid such a move would have a
fundamental impact on the way football is organised.
So in May 2002
what could fans of Wimbledon FC do?
birth of AFC Wimbledon
The three man
commission in its report said that "resurrecting the club
from its ashes as, say, 'Wimbledon Town'" would be "not
in the wider interests of football.”
So were the fans
to trek up the M1 to Milton Keynes? No way!
FA's announcement of their decision, a group of Wimbledon
supporters led by Kris Stewart and fellow founding members Marc
Jones and Trevor Williams met in The Fox and Grapes pub on
Wimbledon Common to plan what was to be done next as part of the
It was agreed
that, as there was no right of appeal, the only option was to
start the club again from scratch. On 30 May 2002 the idea was put
forward in a Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association meeting
to create a new community-based club named AFC Wimbledon
and an appeal for funds was launched.
On 13 June 2002,
a new manager, a playing strip and badge, based on that of the
original Wimbledon FC, and a stadium were unveiled to fans and the
media at the packed-out Wimbledon Community Centre.
Trials on Wimbledon Common in June 2002
In order to
assemble a competitive team at very short notice, AFC Wimbledon
held player trials on 29 June 2002 on Wimbledon Common, open to
any unattached player who felt he was good enough to try out for
The event attracted 230 hopeful players, from whom the club's
squad for their inaugural season was eventually chosen.
In the 2002–03
season, AFC Wimbledon competed in the Combined Counties League
Premier Division under the management of former Wimbledon FC
player Terry Eames.
Their first ever
game, a pre-season friendly against Sutton United on 10 July 2002,
resulted in a 4–0 loss in front of a crowd of 4,657
competitive match in the CCL was away to Sandhurst Town where
around 1500 supporters cheered their team to a 2-1 victory.
Stewart and Ivor Hellor at Sandhurst.
Cooper scored AFC Wimbledon's second goal against Sandhurst
I’m proud to
say I was there – standing on hay bales to get a good view. This
venue was very different from Selhurst Park or even Plough Lane
and to me demonstrated the delights of non league football.
demise of Wimbledon FC and the creation of MK Dons
Wimbledon FC started the season at Selhurst Park due to a lack of
a suitable ground in Milton Keynes that met the Football League
attendance at Selhurst Park was officially announced as 2,476,
including 1,808 from Gillingham. AFC Wimbledon claimed an average
crowd of over 3,700 during its first months, while Wimbledon FC attracted less than 3,000, most of whom were followers of visiting
relocation was delayed for over a year and in June 2003 the club
went into administration.
had not intended to own Wimbledon FC
himself. His plan had been
to work alongside it while the new stadium was built, and then
give the ground to the club in exchange for shares and a place on
the board. He had not expected it to go into administration. With
the move threatened and the club facing liquidation, he made the
decision to take it on himself.
He secured funds
from his consortium for the administrators to pay the players'
wages, keep the club operating, and pay for the necessary
renovations for the National Hockey Stadium to host League
football. He made clear that his group's interest was conditional
on the club moving to Milton Keynes.
Winkelman's consortium injected funds to keep it operating and
paid for the renovation of the National Hockey Stadium in Milton
Keynes, where the team played its first match in September 2003.
MK Group bought the relocated club in 2004 and concurrently
changed its name, badge and colours. The team's new ground,
Stadium MK, opened three years later.
Milton Keynes City FC went out of business before the start of
the season following an unsuccessful drive for new directors and
ups and downs of the two clubs
how have the two teams faired.
Wimbledon had 6 promotions since 2002. 5 of these were over a 9
year period which saw them climb from the lowly Combined Counties
League and get into the Football League.
fans at the playoff final that saw the team promoted to the
Football League in 2011.
They have played in
League 2 before their final promotion to League 1 after the
In contrast, MK
Dons had 2 promotions and 3 relegations. They started off in
League 1 and now back in League 2
year, the MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman says it has been
"an absolutely horrible year" for the club but insists
he still has work to do before seeking investment.
has led the Dons since they were founded in 2004 and says the club
has lost him £3m in the past year.
told the BBC in an interview that: "To be going backwards,
it's terrible and it wasn't supposed to happen. I'll be honest, I
am worried - this is absolutely not where we wanted to be, it's
not where we can be."
told BBC Three Counties Radio that he wanted "to apologise to
our supporters and the city of Milton Keynes - this is not what we
thought going down from the Championship was bad. To be in this
position is just unthinkable. None of us planned or expected. It
is probably the worst ever thing that has happened."
Meanwhile what of
the spiritual home of Wimbledon - Plough Lane?
The old stadium
was demolished and is now the site for a housing complex.
site of the old Plough Lane ground.
In December 2017,
AFC Wimbledon was granted permission to begin work on constructing
a new 11,000-seater stadium (which could be expanded to hold up to
20,000 in the future) on the site of Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium.
The new ground will be only 250 yards away from the original
Plough Lane, Wimbledon's home from 1912 until 1991.
moral of the story
decision by the commission to allow Wimbledon FC to relocate, the
Football Association changed their rules to ensure such a
situation does not happen in the future.
MK Dons could
have supported MK City (which was subsequently closed), but
instead bought a club and a league place. Did MK Dons earn their
place in the Football League? Many would argue not.
Wimbledon who earned their place in the League 1 after starting in
level 9 of the football pyramid.
And that is why
AFC Wimbledon fans have a smile on their faces.
centre piece of IBM’s shop of the future are the self-service
checkouts. The technology allows large numbers of items to be
scanned at once. It does this as each shopping item has a tiny
“radio frequency identification” chip embedded in it. This
system could make the traditional barcodes obsolete as the chip
contains much more information.
customer places their items on a scanning platform, which displays
the full list on a screen. They open a smartphone app and tap the
device on a reader to deduct payment from an account linked to a
card app, such as Apple Pay or Android Pay, and are then emailed a
the London Evening Standard review here)
trial comes as Amazon opens
its first supermarket without checkouts whether human operated or
Go, as it's called, has been tested by staff for the past year
uses an array of ceiling-mounted cameras to identify each customer
and track what items they select, eliminating the need for
billing. Before entering, shoppers must scan the Amazon Go
smartphone app. Sensors on the shelves add items to the bill as
customers pick them up - and deletes any they put back. Purchases
are billed to customers' credit cards when they leave the store.
makes the dreaded supermarket queue a thing of the past and will
no doubt give any retailer a huge advantage over its competitors.
think these are great advances with technology. It means I can buy
my pint of milk or loaf of bread without having to speak to a
human - something I don't want to do when I'm in a hurry.
British Retail Consortium said it was important for shops to be
welcoming for everyone and warned that automated checkouts could
add to loneliness and isolation among the elderly.
Ambrosi, a spokesman from Anchor said, "There was a time when
people knew their shopkeepers and could pass the time of day. You
can't do that with a machine."
study by the charity suggests 24% of older people are deterred
from shopping by automated checkouts. It means they can have gone
shopping without having said 'hello' to a single person - and
that, according to Mr Ambrosi, can be quite a miserable
this week fears that robots could take the jobs of humans may be
premature after Britain’s first cyborg shop assistant was sacked
after a week of confusing customers.
an experiment run by Heriot-Watt University, the Scottish
supermarket chain Margiotta was asked to trial ‘ShopBot’, who
they affectionately named ‘Fabio’. Fabio was programmed with
directions to hundreds of items in the company’s Edinburgh store
and initially charmed customers with his ‘hello gorgeous’
greeting, playful high fives, jokes and offers of hugs.
within just a few days, the robot was demoted after giving
unhelpful advice such as ‘it’s in the alcohol section’ when
asked where to find beer. Banished to an aisle where he was only
allowed to offer samples of pulled pork, Fabio started to alarm
customers who went out of their way to avoid him.
human staff managed to tempt 12 customers to try the meat every 15
minutes, Fabio only managed two.
supermarket owner, Luisa Margiotta, soon realised the robot was
actually putting off shoppers. Ironically, when they packed up
Fabio to send it back to the lab, some staff were reduced to
tears! Dr Oliver Lemon, director of the Interaction Lab at Heriot-Watt,
admits he was surprised by the reaction his invention got. He
admitted that one of the things they didn't expect was the people
working in the shop becoming quite attached to it.
will robots replace shop workers in the future? Luisa Margiotta
was sceptical. She said: “We find our customers love a personal
interaction and speaking to our staff is a big part of that.
staff members know our regulars very well and can have
conversations on a daily a basis, and I doubt robots would be able
to fulfil this."
comment I saw on twitter suggested that staff at their local
corner shop were willing to chat, have a laugh and a joke and talk
about things with the customer and whilst prices were a bit more
than at a supermarket, the experience is far better and it makes
life a little more fun.
That may be true for some but sometimes when all you want is a
pint of milk, you don't want a conversation.
I want a conversation, I'll go down to my local.
I will admit I do fall in the "older person" bracket. I
have my bus pass. But I get so frustrated standing in a check out
queue wasting time waiting for dithering pensioners idly
gossiping, loading their shopping into their bags before fumbling
for a purse and counting out their cash. And when they have paid
they still carry on chatting to the checkout attendant.
I may be accused of being a miserable old sod but I say thank
goodness for self service technology!
what is the answer?
of us work for a living and only get an hour for lunch or a couple
of days off a week, I would suggest that supermarkets offer a 5%
discount on items bought by pensioners, or those who want a chat,
between 9:30 and 11:30 on weekday mornings.
what about checkout aisles specifically for those who want to stop
and chat? A kind of slow lane?
compromise is to have three types of checkouts. The self service
for those in a hurry and are only buying a couple of items. An
attended checkout for those with a larger shop but still limited
with time and a "slow" checkout for those who want to
"have a chat".
know which one I would use.
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Fare Rises - Should the Railways be Renationalised?
2 January 2018)
Average rail ticket prices have risen by 3.4% across the UK. This
is the largest increase to fares since 2013.
say they are being priced out of getting to work. The Department
for Transport said price rises were capped in line with inflation.
Fare increases to regulated fares are calculated using the
previous July's Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation.
Around half of all tickets fall under this category.
Plummer, chief executive of industry trade body the Rail Delivery
Group, said the fare changes would provide cash for better
services and investment. Figures released by the Rail Delivery
Group suggest that for every pound paid in fares, 97p goes
directly back to operating and improving services.
Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport,
accused the government of choosing to ignore rail passengers,
while fuel duty continued to be frozen. He asks that there be a
level playing field.
the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT)
said the need for public ownership of the railways had "never
been more popular or necessary".
spokesman for the Department for Transport said it was investing
in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian
times. One example is the major rebuilding of London Bridge
station which was fully reopened on the 2 January.
is nationalisation the answer?
rail network was first nationalised in 1948 and privatised again
in 1993. The Labour Party says our railways have become
inefficient and expensive. They want to see a return to public
pledge appears to resonate with the public. Two years ago, a
YouGov poll suggested half of voters would prefer trains to be run
by the public sector.
So do we
want to go back to the days of British Rail?
nationalised industry, they were under funded and inefficient and
on many routes has become a problem, but this is largely down to
Victorian infrastructure rather than any fault of the private
operators. If British Rail was around now it would be facing
exactly the same problems.
Since privatisation Train
Operating Companies have developed services and been far more
innovative than the old British Rail. This zeal of innovation on the railways has not
been seen since the Twenties and Thirties when the “Big Four”
train companies competed for passengers. This new innovation has
helped deliver a doubling in the annual number of passenger
journeys since the early Nineties.
number of passenger journeys have increased from 735 million in
1994-95 to 1.7 billion in 2015-16 (source: Office of Rail and
Road). That is as high as the 1950's. Would this have happened
under British Rail? And if so how would they have responded?
Punctuality is at a record high and
Britain can now boast the safest railways in Europe. BR’s safety
record was lamentable and regional routes were often ignored and
suffered chronic under investment. It is also worth remembering
that fares rose at an alarming rate under BR; it was not unusual
for them to rise by 5pc or 6pc a year. Under privatisation fare
rises have been pegged at less than inflation.
And what about
private investment? Private companies invested a total of £925
million in Britain’s rail network in 2016-17, the highest figure
recorded since the Office of Rail and Road’s data series began
in 2006-07. Of this figure, £767m was spent on rolling stock.
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