The only way we found to know if Northern trains were running was to go to the station and read a video board. Nope, no trains today.

The Northern Railway trains to and from Kendal were mostly canceled during our stay due to “lack of drivers” leaving us to take a taxi or emergency bus to get to Windermere or Oxenhall.  Nobody seemed to know exactly why.  One story was that Northern was cutting out conductors, leaving the train driver as the only employee to run the train, check tickets and “sort it” if there was an altercation.  This struck the drivers as impossible work conditions and they responded by frequently calling in sick.  

Waiting at Oxenhall station after a short taxi ride from Kendal. Transpennine Express trains were running reliably and zipped us back to the airport.

Northern claimed they didn’t have enough trained drivers and weren’t getting applicants, but our taxi driver disputed that as he didn’t see any “adverts” posted for train drivers.  Plus, he opined, drivers make L50,000-L75,000 a year, a very respectable wage, and many people would want those jobs.  Northern suggested they might stop operating the route as it was a money-loser, but the national government declared that Northern HAD to continue or else, according to our taxi driver.  

Regardless, between regular buses, special buses and taxis, everyone seemed to fare reasonably well.  The transportation system showed redundancy and resilience, in planning-speak.  The biggest worry, expressed by one local, was that “it looked bad for the Lakes District not to have trains with the main tourist season about to start.” 

Think Super Bowl in Atlanta with MARTA drivers on strike.  Atlanta would look bad.  But does Atlanta’s transportation system have enough redundancy and resilience to move people anyway?


Trainstopping — 1 Comment

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    That’s pretty much what happens every day in Atlanta already. Atlanta looks bad right now, just not as bad as some other cities. Atlanta’s transportation system is highway oriented, and operating well over capacity. A few more cars and charter buses aren’t going to materially affect a transportation system that is already operating beyond its limits.

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