Search this site
Delude Retreat Indemnify Prevaricate Squander

Shorn of the fripperies

As hope disappears over the horizon with its backside on fire, I find myself consumed by grumpy middle-age and acute intolerance of our superficial society.

On a recent trip to the Treacle Tower (lofty home of RSSB), I was confronted by a notice in the third floor toilets - “please remember to wash your hands”. Was my personal hygiene so gruesome that the Rail Safety and Standards Board felt compelled to intervene or had I stumbled through an open time-wound back to nursery school?

My Victor Meldrew tendencies kicked-in. I prepared a label - “nanny will be along to inspect them later” - and affixed it to the offending missive. It was a satisfying triumph but short lived. Within hours, the sticky alien invader had been peeled from the premises in a supreme demonstration of RSSB’s rapid response capabilities.
Within hours, the sticky alien invader had been peeled from the premises in a supreme demonstration of RSSB’s rapid response capabilities.

And the point of this tale? You can tell much about management culture by a willingness to embrace peripheral trivia. Is RSSB’s workforce really so ill-equipped to deal with life’s minor routines that instructions have to be plastered across the walls? What next - a user protocol for Doris the Cleaner’s feather duster? Boiling the Kettle - a Good Practice Guide? This flawed philosophy goes far to explain the Rule Book’s gross obesity and questionable fitness.

How come RSSB has the time and resources to invest in minutiae when issues of substance wait to be addressed? Up the road at 40 Melton Street, Network Rail’s managerial axe-wielding has left survivors peddling furiously, trying to keep pace with their workload. But those drained faces hide a new skill - how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Perhaps a recent RSSB Information Bulletin offers some clues. Critical corporate output appears thin on the ground. Amongst the under-whelming headlines - “Rail skills agreement signed”, “RIAC meeting”, “Yellow Book conference”. And you can hear the barrel bottom being frantically scraped when “RSSB staff profile” becomes a permanent fixture and there’s still space to report that a video has been sent to someone in Australia. The tabloids missed a real scoop there!

Thanks to above-inflation fare increases, some passengers now have to fork out “eye watering” sums for the pleasure of travelling on our trains so it’s incumbent on the industry to extract maximum value from every penny earned. If an organisation has spare capacity for collective thumb-twiddling then it needs to follow Network Rail’s lead and become a leaner, meaner machine.

The post-privatisation era of frill and excess is over. Let’s wave goodbye to ‘death by seminar’, stifling process and research into the screamingly obvious. It’s time we were shorn of the fripperies and all our energies fully committed to delivering real, tangible improvements for the railway community and those long-suffering customers.

Please take a deep breath after reading this article.

Story added 1st January 2006
Page Top

Front Page | Safety Valve | Jungle Ron | Newshound | Red Tape | On The Line
Four by Three | Forgotten Relics of an Enterprising Age | God's Own County | Image Library

© Four by Three 2014