Championing the underdog

WHETHER it be politics, sport or whatever, it’s strange how everyone loves the underdog. Football is a case in point.

For those who follow the ‘beautiful game’, a team considered mediocre and relatively unglamorous has suddenly been propelled into the limelight.

Leicester City’s meteoric rise from bottom of the Premiership at the start of April 2015 and subsequent survival, has been followed by an outstanding season, culminating in a neck-and-neck fight with Tottenham Hotspur for the 2015/6 Premiership title. It has been real ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff.

Leicester were never given a hope at the start of this campaign and were tipped for relegation, but a remarkable season has proved the critics wrong, and the team has won thousands of new fans and admirers from around the globe.

It will cost the bookies a fair sum, too!

When GB Railfreight’s managing director John Smith named Class 66 No. 66725 after Sunderland AFC back in 2011, the football club which he supports, he set in motion a succession of namings that has started to replicate LNER ‘B17’ ‘Footballer’ 4-6-0s. We now have locos named after Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Derby County.

As I write this, the pendulum has swung very much Leicester’s way and it could be all over by the time this issue is published.

Both Leicester and Tottenham have proven that they are worthy of having locomotives named after them, continuing the adopted ‘B17’ theme.

Apart from what happens on the pitch, there are other valid reasons, too.
GBRf has very strong business connections in Leicestershire – moving thousands of tons of aggregates from quarries at Bardon Hill and Mountsorrel; having locomotives overhauled, rebuilt or repaired at Wabtec Brush, Loughborough; moving Class 800/801 IEP trains to and from Old Dalby for Hitachi; and not to mention the daily passage of intermodal trains through the county to and from Felixstowe.

Such a naming would be a fillip to those who work for the many local businesses and conduct business with GBRf. It would also be a nod to the fanatical supporters of Leicester City and the players, staff and manager who have won over so many fans because of their never-say-die attitude.

As a ‘Foxes’ supporter I am definitely biased, but seriously, how about it GB Railfreight?

Electrify Nuneaton-Birmingham line now!
DAMAGE to the overhead power supply at Birmingham International at the start of the working day on April 5 couldn’t have come at a worse time – or in a worse place – on a crossover south of the station, blocking both lines.

It disrupted thousands of commuters and those trying to get to the airport to catch flights.

As has become usual in such circumstances passengers get diverted to other operators’ services, which struggle to cope with the unexpected influx. Or they wait, frustrated, in long queues to be bussed to other stations or destinations – assuming operators can find drivers for the buses, which might be on the school run.

After such incidents there always follows accusations by passengers of poor or non-existent information and a lack of staff to assist with enquiries, with the industry promising to do better.

Had the Nuneaton to Birmingham fill-in scheme and others been completed as a priority some years ago, it would have provided so much more operational flexibility on that day, lessened passenger anger and frustration, and kept people on the move.

With Rugeley to Walsall now being electrified, this will leave Nuneaton to Birmingham as the only non-electrified diversionary route between Birmingham and the WCML.

That is an absurd situation and needs resolving.

Chris Milner, Editor

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