RICK JACKSON: Should we go the whole hog and bring back British Rail?

With all the well-reported issues concerning Southern Trains, it came as a bit of a shock to me to hear that Stagecoach has lost the franchise to run South West Trains.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 6th April 2017, 6:01 am
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:19 pm

The new operator is a 70/30 partnership between Hong Kong Metro operators MTR and the First Group, which already runs Great Western Trains and bus services in Portsmouth, Gosport and Fareham.

I’m wondering if this news will bring cheers of delight from local rail users, or worry after what has happened to services out to the east of the city over the past few years.

I do not use the service as regularly as I used to, but I do have friends who do the daily commute to London.

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I’m sure they are happy at the news of more seating becoming available. Stagecoach’s promise of more seats was the introduction of the three seat/two seat configuration on the Portsmouth run.

These trains are meant for shorter, urban services and the thought of three adults squeezed on to these seats for a journey of almost two hours would put dread into the most hardened of travellers.

One friend of mine said he sat frozen for 90 minutes whilst the man next to him fell asleep on his shoulder.

He couldn’t move as the lady on the third seat was eating a McDonald’s whilst on her phone!

This doesn’t constitute quality 21st century travel, does it?

What made the situation worse was watching a Southampton train depart with two-plus-two seats, taking just 60 minutes to complete its journey.

The new operator is also promising to cut the journey time by five minutes. But is this enough?

Was Stagecoach that bad? The oldest trains in Portsmouth Harbour are those heading to Bristol with First.

Then we got the news that 30-year-old British Rail trains are to be taken out of mothballs for the Portsmouth service.

I actually see this as a positive move. These trains are very comfortable, have large two-plus-two seating and are specifically designed for the service.

Then again, should we go the whole hog and just bring back British Rail instead?


Before you have them, you really don’t know how exhausting children can be.

I thought a trip to Paultons Park would be a relaxing affair. We could sit and watch as our two small children played in the soft play area, or enjoyed the delights of the play park.

No such luck. We must have run the equivalent of a marathon chasing them around, keeping them out of mischief and trying to control tantrums as they moved from one attraction to another.

There was five minutes to relax with a coffee before another nappy change.

And who would have thought that Peppa Pig’s Windy Castle ride would make both myself and my wife queasy? Next time, we’ll pack seasickness tablets.


I know we’re late to the party, but we’ve just discovered Broadchurch.

We’ve been hooked on the third and final series – so much so that we’ve downloaded the first two series to watch.

This is the first time we’ve ever participated in a ‘box-set-a-thon’ like our friends.

They have watched episode after episode of shows like Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad.

I suppose we’ve not had the time. But after the kids went to bed, we watched six episodes of the first series and we were hooked!

It was 1am when we staggered off to bed.

But believe me we paid for it the next morning as the sound of footsteps filled our bedroom and our two-year-old started reading Stick Man to us!