Monday, 2 July 2018

Northern Rail and project management

How can Northern Rail go ahead with changes to the timetable without project management?
There are three aspects which should have been planned before the changes were implemented.
1. They should have made sure that there was enough track capacity to sustain the changes. This has to be planned in conjunction with Network Rail. Once it has been established that there is enough track capacity, the next aspect can be planned.
2. That there is enough rolling stock to fulfil the timetable and the rolling stock is in the right place to fulfil the timetable over time.
3. There are enough drivers to handle the routes and the timetable.
Northern Rail appear to have failed on all of these points which does not give anybody confidence in their ability to run the franchise in the future.!
Do they employ anybody in higher management who knows anything about running trains?

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Northern Rail

I have watched open mouthed as all the trouble beset Northern rail. It appears they have forgotten the simple first rules of transport. Maybe there was nobody employed who was familiar with these principles.
There are very few people who like transport for transports sake. They use transport to fulfill other objectives like getting to work, visiting relatives and so on. If they could step into a box and be instantly transported to their destination, they would take that option. So the objective of transport is to get the passenger to their destination in other words the arrival. This has to be accomplished safely.    It must also be accomplished in the time promised by the timetable.
Northern rail failed on all these counts. As for their project management comment on that will have to wait for my next blog.
For a expanded version of this buy Managing Transport Operations by Edmund Gubbins. This is the first lecture I gave to my students before I retired. It might sound to simple but a great deal of transport operations follows from this.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Bullies in the Labour Party


Listening to listening to the radio discussing the Labour Party and the contempt momentum supporters have for those who have been members for years but do not agree with their policies takes me back to the 1980's. In my novel An Ordinary Life I describe what was happening during that period. It looks like the bullying has taken hold again. Ultimately as McDonnell has pointed out this leads to no truck with dissent. That notion leads to the Gulag or Venezuela!
Here is one passage from the novel.


The next time there was a Labour Party meeting in his area, Tom went along. A few people who he knew greeted him like a lost brother but others were much more hostile. He did not recognise many of the people in the room though he did know Mike Pearce among those on the platform.
         The business dragged on and Tom was aware that he had been warned about this by his brother. People started to drift away, some to go home, others to the bar. Stubbornly Tom stayed.
         “ Next item on the agenda.” The chairman Dave Dowling stated. “ The nomination of two delegates to the Labour Party conference.”
         “ I propose Dave Dowling and Mike Pearce,” a thin face woman said from the floor.
         “ Thank you,” Dave Dowling said. “ I will have to step aside while a vote is taken if there are any other nominations. Well?”
         He glowered round the room.
         “ I nominate Tom Houseman,” a quiet voice spoke from the middle of the room.
         Mr. Reynolds, thought Tom, looking round. Stan Reynolds sat with his wife Betty defiantly looking at the committee. He was dressed in a suit and tie, grey hair slicked back. His lined face showed his concern and determination. His wife was dressed in a cardigan and skirt. They must have been well passed retirement age. They had been coming to these meetings for a long time so Tom had gathered when he had talked to them after joining from the other constituency. They were the sort of old fashioned Labour people who believed in equality of opportunity, redistribution of wealth and society. For them the health service was the best thing that had ever been devised. Their children had gone, like Tom to grammar school and then into professions, one a teacher, the other doctor. They were proud of their children and grandchildren but they never lost sight of their roots and the need to give people a chance in life. They supported the monarchy and the countries institutions. As Tom’s mother would have described them, the salt of the earth. Ordinary people leading ordinary lives.
         Dave Dowling scowled. “ Seconder?”
         May Reynolds raised her hand. “ I second Tom Houseman. He will make a very good delegate to the Conference,”
         “ Is that constitutional? You are his wife.” Dave Dowling grunted.
         “ But we are individual members of the Party. Therefore we have the right to nominate and second who we like.”
         “ Do you agree to this nomination, Tom?” Mike Pearce asked bluntly.
         “ Yes,” Tom smiled sweetly. “ It looks like you will not get the shoe in you expected.”
         “ Those nominated will have to leave the room,” Dave Dowling stated glowering at Tom. “ Brian will take the chair for the vote.”
         All three trooped out. A waste of time, thought Tom looking round the room. There are only a couple of people like Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds left. All the rest are the supporters of Dave Dowling. Tom was proved right. Dave Dowling and Mike Pearce were easily elected.
         After the vote Mr. Reynolds moved a point of order. “ Are we quorate? There don’t seem to be many people here.”
         “ Of course we are quorate,” Dave Dowling now back in the chair snapped. “ I would not have taken a vote if we were not quorate.”
         “ Another thing,” Stan persisted. “ Why was such an important item placed towards the end of the agenda? A lot of brothers and sisters left before we got to that business.”
         “ They knew what was on the agenda so it is their fault they were not here for the vote.”
         “ Who draws up the agenda?” Stan asked not giving up.
         “ The committee, you ass hole!” Dave Dowling snapped.
         “ There is no need to call me that. I was asking perfectly valid questions,” Stan stood his ground.
         “ No it wasn’t a valid question. The committee draws up the agenda from all the business that needs to be discussed. That is the trouble with the party. We have to keep faith with members like you and your wife. You are from the past. You want to be civil with all sides. You believe in decency and equal opportunities. Redistribution of wealth but not getting rid of those who exploit the working class. Christ, you should not be in the party. We need to turn back to a Marxist agenda. Nationalise all the means of production, finance and business. The best thing you two could do is to leave the party to the likes of me and Mike.”
         “ That is not right. My wife and I have been working for the party for years and years. We have supported it through the good times and the bad.”
         “ Look old man. Go home and leave the proper politics to those who know what they are doing. You are not wanted. You are part of the problem.”
         Tom could see they were almost in tears and reacted angrily. “ There is no need to insult these good people, Dave Dowling. You might think that your education and ideas are superior to theirs but they are only ideas. Leave them alone.”
         Dave Dowling smiled cruelly. “ What do you know of working people, Tom Houseman? You are the product of an elitist system. You went to grammar school and then to university. You work in a university now. What do you know of struggle?”
         “ Coming from you that is rich,” Tom laughed. “ My father is at least a working man. Yours was a school teacher just as you are a school teacher. My convictions come from a deep rooted source. I believe in equality of opportunity and redistribution of wealth. But there has to be the creation of wealth in the first place. People have to earn money before they can pay taxes.”
         “ But as is shown in Russia, there can be wealth without exploitation.”
         “ Rubbish! Which is the richest country on earth?” Tom asked. “ The United States.”
         “ But they exploit the poor unlike in Russia.”
         “ Rubbish again. In Russia they put people in Gulags who disagree with the government. In the United States you are free to criticise the government. You can vote out those in office.”
         “ To help the working class we have to have a left wing agenda.”
         “ To carry out your agenda you have to get elected.”
         “ With a left wing agenda and ideas, there are more working class than the rest, so we will get elected. The trouble with this government is that it is not radical enough.”
         “ Now you are either being silly or you have your head in the clouds. With a programme like Mike is always advocating there is not a cat in hells chance of this party getting elected. Hopefully the Tories have shot themselves in the foot by electing a woman as leader. If Jim Callaghan goes to the polls this autumn, we have a chance but not with a manifesto like you are going to advocate at the party conference. Now you leave these good people alone in future. They have a perfect right to be here and a perfect right to ask questions. If you are so unsure of your position that you have to insult life long Labour members, there is something wrong with your arguments. Come on Mr. And Mrs. Reynolds. I will give you a lift home.”
         “ Don’t you dare call me a coward, Tom Houseman!” Mike exploded.
         “ Mike grow up and start acting like an adult. You are going to put this party in a right mess if you are not careful.” Tom grinned. “ The next thing you will do is start to advocate  locking up anybody who disagrees with you. All you have to do is look at dictatorships down the ages to se where hat leads. Even better, go and buy a copy of animal farm and read that if you can read and understand what it is saying. It will save you a great deal l of heart ache in the future.”
         Tom ushered them out of the building and into his car.
         “ Thank you for standing up for us,” Mr. Reynolds said as they arrived at his house. “ I don’t know what the Party is coming to when people treat other people like that.”
         “ We have to make a stand against the bullies of the left,” Tom smiled in reassurance. “ lets make sure we are there next time.”


Available from Amazon as a paperback and Kindle for downloading as an ebook

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

For The Love of Pauline by Eddie Gubbins

I was listening to the news this morning while drinking my first morning coffee in bed when the subject of trafficked women being forced into short lease brothels was raised. It reminded me that my thriller For The Love Of Pauline involves that subject.
Ken Flood' daughter Pauline dies after she takes contaminated drugs. The police appear helpless to bring the dealers to justice. Ken understands that the police have to get evidence before they can proceed. He sets out with the help of his brother to find out who was responsible for his daughter's death.
His searching brings him into conflict with harden criminals who do not hesitate to kill any who stand against them. They threaten his brother and Ken with death unless they desist in their digging. Ken has to concider the risks in carrying on against his feeling of letting his daughter down if he does not find out who was responsible.
For The Love Of Pauline is available from Amazon as a paperback and kindle to download as an ebook.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Christianity and the USA

I sat in church this morning listening to the sermon and for some reason started to wonder about the Christian credentials of the USA. The Christian Right pontificate that their philosophy is bible based but in some things they cherry pick which parts they think are relevant. It says though shalt not kill but they support capital punishment, or state killing, and many support having freedom to own and use guns. Nowhere to me do they talk about the love of Christ for everybody.
They forget this passage from the New Testament:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Where is their adherence to this when voting against universal medical coverage? Where is their help for the homeless or those less fortunate than themselves?
It is a puzzle to me that they call themselves Christian.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Brotherly Love by Eddie Gubbins

Brotherly Love a thriller by Eddie Gubbins.
This is the story of family loyalty in the face of whether the loyalty is misplaced. When his brother Norman asks Ken Flood for help, Ken does not question his brother's motives. Deep down he does have questions about the nature of what his brother asks him to undertake. Under the surface it Stuart's to appear that what he has been asked to do might be criminal. The question for Ken is that if the activity is outside the law should he abandon his brother and ask for help elsewhere. As ken flees first to Jersey and then to London he has no notion of which side he is on or who are his enemies. He. Has to ask him self whether he will ask any of his friends for help or should he remain on his own. Running away he suspects anybody who offers help and looks over his shoulder at the thought of pursuers. Scared and shaking he runs and hides.
Buy as a paperback from Amazon, for downloading as an ebook from Kindle store.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

A Ceremony of Innocence by Edmund Gubbins

Two brothers are at home on holiday with their family much to the delight of their mother. It was the firsts time they had been at home together for several years. Their father is the union convener at the local shipyard and he leads the workers a out on strike against the proposed redundancies at the same time as the brothers arrive home. Though on the surface both brothers support their father, below the surface their simmers a stew of disagreement.
 Mark, the elder brother, is home fresh from months at sea as a ships officer and refuses to compromise his upwardly mobiles lifestyle with his friends for the sake of family harmony. He lives for the moment and grabs any chance of happiness.
Jim the younger brother has freshly graduated from university. He supports his father with a passion and without question.
During the summer holidays can the brothers find a way to compromise their positions and fulfil their mother's wish for a happy few weeks while they are all together? Will their rigid positions boil over into anger and open conflict and the threat of family break up?