(My column for the April issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News)
Travelling by train to London yesterday for the first time in ages, I was pleasantly surprised by the changes in the rail service. So often corporate rebranding goes only skin-deep, but the changes at GWR are much more than a new logo, colour scheme and smart uniforms. Immaculate new rolling stock with thoughtful extras such as a recharging point for every seat, an efficient trolley service, and scrolling electronic displays with journey information all made the journey more relaxing. Not forgetting the high-tech new engines, of course!
But what really took my breath away was the toilet cubicle – and I mean that in a good way. It was big enough to hold a party. (I resisted that temptation.) The high-tech controls suggested I was about to be teleported, Star Trek style.
I wasn’t the only one enjoying the journey. The pleasant young man serving refreshments volunteered what a great company GWR is to work for. He confided that he’d applied for engine driver training. Engine driver – once the ambition of every small boy. I hope his application is successful.
In this anxious age of political uncertainty and turmoil, the whole experience soothed and reassured me. Britain can still be great, when it gets its act together, as GWR has done.
Meanwhile, I just wish we could persuade GWR to reverse the Beeching Cuts and even to add new lines.
Next stop, Hawkesbury Upton Station? In my dreams!