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EDITIONS
Monday, 23 September, 2002, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Last chance to vote for our Rail Commuters' Champ
This is your last chance to vote for BBC News Online's Rail Commuters' Champion. Who do you want to speak up for the beleaguered passenger? Choose your favourite from the 10 below and cast your vote.

Last week we asked readers to nominate themselves to be BBC News Online's Rail Commuters' Champion. We were looking for ordinary rail users willing to speak through this website about how Britain's failing railways could be improved.

Below are the 10 best entries, each with a short manifesto. Read them and then vote, at the bottom of the page, for your favourite.

Name: Jonathon Yuill
Age: 41
Occupation: Art director
Daily commute: Witham - London, Liverpool Street
Manifesto:
I've been a passenger (I refuse to use the term customer) on the Colchester/Clacton line for over 20 years. In that time, I've been detrained, detained, derailed and delayed. My trains have been hit by missiles thrown from the trackside, and once hit a herd of stray cows. I've been used, abused and once been fined for the heinous crime of forgetting my yearly ticket. I've seen Liverpool Street transformed from stunning Gothic masterpiece into a glorified Sockshop emporium. To be fair, I've also seen some improvements in some services. I'd like to be the Voice from the Platform!

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Name: Deborah Stephens
Age: 52
Occupation: Account director
Daily commute: Reading - London, Paddington
Manifesto:
Not a railway expert, but a passenger who also walks, runs, cycles, swims and drives. I am a commuter along the Great West Rail route, and am - like everyone else - extremely disillusioned with the service and the general attitude of railway staff towards us. Changes are needed more than ever in:

  • the culture of the railways,
  • the process of investment in new infrastructure and rolling stock,
  • the issues of fares and finance,
  • the approach to integration with other transport services, and finally
  • the treatment of the environment in and around the railway system
    Let me be your champion!

    --------------------------------------

    Name: Richard Palethorpe
    Age: 34
    Occupation: Business solutions consultant
    Daily commute: Peterborough - London, King's Cross
    Manifesto:
    I commute daily from Peterborough to London on GNER. There's three aspects to improving the railways - 1) Long term government investment to improve the infrastructure, 2) short term railway company investment in teaching communication skills to staff (GNER is good at this) and 3) creating an environment where commuters can change their own attitudes - I've met loads of people, myself included, who are using commuting time to study Open University degrees. Getting stressed won't reverse years of under-funding so reframe the problem and look at ways of making the journey of value to the individual as well as the rail company.

    --------------------------------------

    Name: Gillian Sclater
    Age: 40
    Occupation: Computer consultant
    Daily commute: Canterbury - London
    Manifesto:
    As a daily long-distance and long-suffering commuter I would LOVE the opportunity to be a voice that is actually representative of, hopefully HEARD and AGRESSIVELY acted upon. The malaise that strangles the whole rail system obviously paralyses the train operators themselves (if results are anything to go on), but seems to affect the passengers and staff on the trains as well. I believe that a concerted effort on all these fronts could vastly improve things and that our ghastly rail system could perhaps be, against all odds, on a par with some of the better European train systems!

    --------------------------------------

    Name: Pepe Tozzo
    Age: 41
    Occupation: Development manager
    Daily commute: Basingstoke - Woking
    Manifesto:
    As your rail champion I could represent many types of train commuter. I own a car but cycle to the railway station from where I travel to work by train every working day. After experiencing one of the busiest train routes for over seven years I have seen poor service at its worst. I believe in the importance of good public transport and have reminded ministers many times that they have failed to make any positive impact whatsoever. Simple changes have a large effect. I can see that so why can't the decision makers? Let me be your voice.

    --------------------------------------

    Name: Adam Edwards
    Age: 40
    Occupation: Library manager
    Daily commute: Hatfield - London, King's Cross
    Manifesto:
    Commute daily from Hatfield (Herts) so use an unreliable service, hit by two recent tragedies. Run the local commuter group which has a forward looking plan. Four-year-old daughter so particularly familiar with problems caused by lack of lifts and toilets. Subscribe to many rail publications so am up to date on news in the UK and in Europe. Am keen to give the whole picture rather than joining the rest of the media in unbalanced shock horror stories, without being afraid to criticise the railways where deserved.

    --------------------------------------

    Name: Rachel Crookes
    Age: 23
    Occupation: Publishing assistant
    Daily commute: London Fields - London, Liverpool Street
    Manifesto:
    As both a cross-city commuter and a long distance train traveller, I know about the good and the bad of train travel in the UK. I'm happy to dole out both praise and condemnation when warranted and have given both to train companies in the past. We need a system that is accountable, efficient and manageable. In particular, rail companies need to take responsibility for the smaller train stations and less crowded routes, and pay attention to the black spots on the train map. But if people don't speak up, nothing will get done. It's time to rethink the rails!

    --------------------------------------

    Name: Richard Twyning
    Age: 32
    Occupation: Software engineer
    Daily commute: Mansfield - Nottingham
    Manifesto:
    I should be your Rail Commuters' Champ, because I commute to work every day via Central Trains on the Robin Hood Line in Nottinghamshire. I write a daily report which I fax to Central Trains and the Midlands Rail Passenger's Committee. I have a personal campaign against Central Trains to improve conditions for their passengers. Besides reliability issues, there are also health issues from the fumes produced by waiting trains, and a large part of my focus is to improve things in this area. The Midlands Rail Passengers' Committee monitor my reports and use them as evidence against Central Trains.

    --------------------------------------

    Name: Adam Warr
    Age: 33
    Occupation: IT analyst
    Daily commute: n/a (lives in Peterborough)
    Manifesto:
    As a former railway employee I have seen the changes wrought to the system from the sharp end since privatisation. I understand the frustration of today's rail users travelling on an overpriced and often inefficient system. My knowledge and passion for rail travel is boundless and I would be able to offer insightful and accurate comment on news stories, speaking up for the day to day rail user in a cool, concise manner. I would cut through the hysteria and the hype and tell things as they really are.

    --------------------------------------

    Name: Kevin Miller
    Age: 39
    Occupation: Advertising manager
    Line regularly used: NW London - SE London
    Manifesto:
    To alleviate the strain of train travel we must implement two things: First, reduce the cost of train travel by subsidising fares from government funds. Second, increase frequency of the timetable, making it more accessible during peak and off-peak. These two measures will last for two years. During which, a major rescue plan will be undertaken, to sell-off old rolling stock, clean up stations, make trains safer and run more efficiently and more frequently including overnight services. As with all injuries, first you stop the bleeding, then you start to heal.


    The vote is now closed. Jonathon Yuill won with 26% of the 3,123 votes cast. Later this week, Jonathon will begin his duties as BBC News Online's Rail Commuters' Champion by explaining how he wants to see the railways revolutionised.

  • BBC News Online's search for a Rail Commuters' Champion'Sort it out!'
    Why BBC News Online wants a rail champion
    See also:

    16 Aug 02 | Business
    25 Mar 02 | Business
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