What do think about the Christmas closedown?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by scarby, 14 Nov 2011.

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  1. scarby

    scarby Member

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    Am relatively new here, so apologies if this has been done before. Maybe it has, but I am curious as to your opinions.

    What do you think about closing the network for all of December 25 and in most parts for December 26?

    When I mention this to people in northern Europe, where I have lived and trains run right through Christmas, people are astounded. Their usual response being: "How does anyone get anywhere?"

    My take on it is:

    December 25: can understand this one, seeing as the whole country more or less closes down.

    December 26: cannot understand this one, as there is a massive programme of sport: football, rugby, horseracing etc, that must involve the movement of over 500,000 people, some over long distances, not to mention people who work in these areas. In addition, airports are open with traffic in and out. I know that unaware travellers flying in have been stranded at airports/short of their final destination in the past.

    Secondly, it means for so many people who rely on public transport, if they wish to travel to see anyone over Christmas, they would either have to stay with them for 3 nights (24, 25, 26) or simply not do it, which is not great. When I used to work on Decmber 25-26, which I did for several years, a friend used to kindly drive the 130 miles round trip to bring me home so I didn't have to wait another 16 hours on my own waiting for the next (first train out December 27) train home.

    What do you think?
     
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  3. gordonthemoron

    gordonthemoron Established Member

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    BR cost cutting measure introduced sometime in the 1960s or 70s which should be revoked. It is absolutely ridiculous that public transport is non-existent on December 25 & 26, this also includes buses in most areas
     
  4. GB

    GB Established Member

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    Cost cutting? The level of major renewals projects that get done over the Christmas period says otherwise.
     
  5. Zoe

    Zoe Established Member

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    There was a discussion about buses recently where it was claimed that almost none of the bus drivers would work on Christmas Day as it's the one day of the year that they have guaranteed off work. You can't run a service if you can't get any of the drivers to work and I don't think it would be a good idea to force them to. It is also often claimed that if a service did run then almost no-one would use it.
     
  6. wessex

    wessex Member

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    They could run it on volunteers as long as the price is right ;)
     
  7. route:oxford

    route:oxford Established Member

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    Winterval Day Services in Oxford:-

    Domestic...

    Tube...

     
  8. SS4

    SS4 Established Member

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    Are they well loaded?
     
  9. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    And you will be doing what on Christmas Day exactly ?
     
  10. scarby

    scarby Member

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    As I mention in the original post, I can see the case for December 25.

    However, December 26 is a day when people are "doing" rather a lot.

    For example, say someone wants to attend the prestigious King George V horse race meeting at Kempton, on December 26. Fine. Except for one slight problem:

    there are no trains to Kempton Park Racecourse station on December 26.
     
  11. ChrisCooper

    ChrisCooper Established Member

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    Public transport workers work shifts that are 7 days a week 364 days a year, sometimes 24 hours a day, usually not far off. Christmas day is the one day they get off. It's also the one day most people do and should get off, other than essential workers and some services. Also, whilst many none essential Christmas jobs tend to be young people, often single, who really aren't that bothered about Christmas and just want the money, public transport workers on average are older and often have families, and therefore are more likely to want Christmas day off. Many Christmas jobs too will be unskilled or low skilled part time seasonal workers too who are got in specifically to cover over Christmas, wheras public transport requires too much training to work like that (you can't just train up train drivers or guards or bus drivers to work over Christmas).

    I think one problem though is that like sundays it becomes a viscious circle. The more people who have to work Christmas day and Boxing day, the more call there will be for transport. That said at the moment beyond essential services where it's expected and staff will naturally live either close by or have their own transport, I don't know of any companies that expect people to work Christmas, but Boxing Day is another matter and more and more shops etc are expecting workers to do Boxing Day, which can be a big problem when no public transport is available.
     
  12. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    No, it was cost-cutting in the 1960s. Along with a "nobody travels on Boxing Day" excuse.
    At the same time a great many Sunday services were cut (virtually all the West Midlands for instance), though many of these have since been restored.
    The major works over Christmas and New Year are a relatively recent invention, rather than the reason for closure in the first place.

    I would have thought a Bank Hol or Sunday service should run on main lines on Dec 26, maybe with a late start (say 1000).
    I understand the problems and costs associated with opening manual signal boxes which would otherwise be closed, but you should be able to make major journeys on routes where the big boxes are manned anyway.
    The current very limited Boxing Day services are only local in nature around London.
    And then there's Scotland...
     
  13. route:oxford

    route:oxford Established Member

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    As far as I'm aware, Stagecoach have to pay a fine for every "Tube" that enters Heathrow on Winterval day.

    There is no way they'd be operating the route if it didn't turn a profit. They've been running the Tube on the 25th for at least 10 years.

    First Winterval "Domestic" service was operated by Stachcoach Oxford on 25/12/2009. It attracted 100 passengers, nothing published for last year.
     
  14. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    When services ran in the 1960's - they were pretty sparse and very lightly loaded - basically a token service. When they came off , the rail media covered it as a positive story allowing railway staff to have a decent break with their families.

    Options to run Boxing Day services are included in some franchise agreements like SET and Southern - however actually running anything is challenging due to the wide and heavy nature of engineering operations. Pressure on running more on the other 50 weekends tends to pile bigger jobs into the Xmas and Easter periods clear of the busiest travel days.

    However , running a reduced Sunday service on selected routes could be achieved with a level of co-operation and some additional support , as costs would be higher than normal. Much higher. (it has been explored)
     
  15. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    I'd agree.

    I can't see any demand sufficient to justify a train service on Christmas Day (no shops open, no offices open, no sporting events).

    Boxing Day, however, is the busiest single shopping day of the year, and usually a full day's sporting fixtures too. I'd say there'd be more demand for a Boxing Day service than an "average" Bank Holiday. And I wouldn't mind working Boxing Day, before anyone asks...
     
  16. 455driver

    455driver On Moderation

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    When I was a bus driver (about 10 years ago) due to perceived demand we ran a bus service on Boxing Day, it was well advertised on the run up to Christmas but the number of passengers I carried in a 10 hour shift could be counted on my fingers and toes with a couple of thumbs spare.

    Needless to say we didnt bother after that.

    People want the OPTION of going long distances but MOST PEOPLE invariably wouldnt bother and would stay within walking/ driving distance, the numbers of people that WOULD travel would not be in sufficient to cover the costs so the service would be run at a loss (more subsidy from the government?) and when do you propose to do the big engineering jobs that invariably get done on these 2 wheel free days?
     
  17. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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    It is only in recent years that Boxing Day has become a shopping day. The trend was started by the carpet, bed and furniture retailers in the mid-70s. Even in the late 70s no supermarkets or other shops opened which meant that Christmas was a nice two-day break.

    There are 363 other days in the year so God only knows why some people are so desperate to go shopping on Boxing Day :roll:
     
  18. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    I learnt my lesson the hard way some years back. I went to London with my sister and went to Oxford Street. Never again. It was manic and utterly senseless. We left empty handed!

    Since then I've always treated Boxing Day as a day of rest...put some DVDs on and spend time with family.
     
  19. Schnellzug

    Schnellzug Established Member

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    Well, as usual, every other country in the world (even the U.S.) has got it wrong, and good old Britian is the only one to do it right. :roll: Everywhere else runs a more or less normal service on Christmas Day even, so I really don't know if all the arguments about "but no one goes to work or goes Shopping" hold much in the way of water. And yes, no one ever wants to travel anywhere over christmas, do they? :roll:

    if churchgoing was at a slightly higher level than it is, perhaps the argument that everyone ought to have the Lord's birthday as a day of rest might hold some water as well, but again, countries (like the U.S.) that do profess to have rather a higher proportion of churchgoers (to say nothing of the solidly Catholic countries in Europe), again, seem to have no moral or ethical qualms about providing services over Christmas. And they also seem to be able to find the Staff to do so.
     
  20. 455driver

    455driver On Moderation

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    How do you cope, the shops may NEVER open again and you will starve to death! :lol:
     
  21. OMGitsDAVE

    OMGitsDAVE Member

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    I think the Christmas Shutdown is great, I mean Christmas Day is the one day that families want to spend together, so why on earth should we force people to work on that day? Fair enough if local organisations want to run a service, that's in their opinion, but a guaranteed one day off is great.

    Boxing day on the other hand, there needs to be more services - especially to the major cities. There's demand for the shoppers, even 3/4 trains each way on this day (with ample spare stock) would provide a good enough service.
     
  22. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    I would be quite happy to work Christmas Day - if the price was right!! No man is uncorruptible...
     
  23. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    Do railway workers in the rest of Europe get extra money for working Christmas Day?

    I will be enjoying a proper service from 24-26 Dec in the Netherlands. As far as I know, they still celebrate Christmas there.
     
  24. scarby

    scarby Member

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    1. On Boxing Day when there are all those sporting events as I mentioned upthread, I find it astonishing that these should function with no public transport provision. Can you imagine, say, England playing a Test match at Trent Bridge and there being absolutely no public transport provision in and out of Nottingham on that day?

    2. Secondly, there is the issue, as will be the case next year, when the 25th and 26th fall on Monday/Tuesday, that the 27th is, ostensibly at least, a normal working day. How are people who have travelled away from their work base to be with family such as parents supposed to get to work for 9am (or even 6am-7am for that matter) on the 27th?

    Obviously the answer is that people have to work around this in some way, such as taking a day's holiday or swapping shifts/days with someone who can cover for them, but this simply does not seem to be public transport doing its job, IMHO.
     
  25. Bellwater

    Bellwater Member

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    If there is to be a Rail Service on the 25/26 Dec Council offices, shops and supermarkets should open too.
     
  26. leedstraindude

    leedstraindude Member

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    This comes up every year and is argued to hell.

    My family lives a two hour drive away, as things stand now I can guarantee at least a day and half with them over Christmas once you factor driving time?
    Like hell am I giving up boxing day and losing precious little time I get with them.

    Equally so, if Boxing day services could be staffed with volunteers then I see no issue, but the problem the TOCS then have is if they cant get enough staff to volunteer, which speak to a lot of rail staff, maybe a problem.
     
  27. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    I very much doubt there will be a service on December 25th in my lifetime. As has been said, guaranteed day off, and established employees are well within their rights to claim an implied term in their contracts after having 25-26/12 off every year since the year dot. I can see an argument for trains on Boxing Day, but having trains on Christmas Day stands two hopes and one of them is called Bob.
     
  28. Oswyntail

    Oswyntail Established Member

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    Since the 60s, the social map has changed considerably. Then, the norm was for extended families to be within easy travelling distance so a) visiting at holiday time was less important and b) could often be walked. These days, with family spread around the country, the holiday periods carry a much more complex itinerary. My son, I guess, is typical, trying to find a way to visit family in Hampshire and Yorkshire within those few days available. Boxing Day trains are really required.
    Do other countries close down over this period? If not, how do they manage renewals? Or have we yet another example of operational convenience trumping the customers?
     
  29. scarby

    scarby Member

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    A very accurate evaluation of the situation as it stands.
     
  30. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    Reminds me of when my Canadian cousins came over and wanted local fish and chips at 1401 when the shop shut at 1400 and was firmly CLOSED.
    When they asked why chip shops closed in the afternoon, my 95-year-old aunt (who used to run a village shop) said sharply that the staff needed the afternoon off, and they should have gone earlier. We didn't tell them they closed all day Monday!

    Just about sums up the British attitude to customer service...
     
  31. Geezertronic

    Geezertronic Established Member

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    I wonder how members of the emergency services get to work on days of no services if they have no car. IMO that should be the only reason any services should be run, not to satisfy the bargin hunters or sports calendar
     
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