Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Travelling with Michael Palin

Yesterday I disappeared for another adventure in the Big Smoke. I know... I know... you can't keep the girl away from the bright lights!

But when I set off from my provincial little town of Bury St Edmunds I hadn't quite expected that I would be travelling with Michael Palin.

It sounds so exciting doesn't it? The honour, the pleasure and a chance to muse over rubbish with a well-know globetrotter and much loved actor and writer.

Except the globetrotter that I'm talking about is probably unknown outside the East of England and hardly travels much further than Cambridge or Ipswich. Travelling over the border to Cambridgeshire is as much an adventure for the Michael Palin from my neck of the woods.

Yes, my Michael Palin is nothing more than a train, a British Rail Class 153 no. 153335, named after the honorable man himself!

But I'm not really sure that you can call it a train. It's not much more than a carriage that shuttles backwards and forwards in the singular. Even that it does with a creak.

An engine might be nice. I really don't know how it manages to get from Bury to Cambridge. Perhaps it's operated by a gaggle of cyclists pulling it from the front.

No offence Michael, but despite the fact you can get me from A to B it's always a relief to get off at Cambridge and find a proper train for the rest of the journey.

Anyway..............when travelling by train, I've often wondered what happens to the stuff that people carry with them when they are out-and-about....you know things like plastic bottles, newspapers, cans etc...the stuff that I now bring home with me to ensure that it is disposed of properly.

Once-upon-a-time any such rubbish would have been simply sent off to landfill, but having had a quick chin-wag with a conductor, it was great to hear that train companies are now making tracks in recycling.

Some services are better than others and it is all dependent on the facilities that are available at destination stations. For example recycling services are available at London Kings Cross, which helps companies such as First Capital Connect improve their targets. When you consider that 60% of rubbish left on First Capital Connect's trains is made up of newspapers it shows how important such facilities are.

First Capital Connect has also looked at other recycling schemes and in May this year, the company launched a book exchange facility at Bedford Station, where commuters can swap books for free.

If we had a service like that in Bury St Edmunds, I would be very tempted to leave secret messages in the books like "Meet me by the lift on Platform One at 16.00 on Thursday, wearing a red carnation." and then sit and observe from behind my copy of The Times. There'd probably be others joining me on the bench, sat behind their copies of The Guardian, Telegraph or Daily Mail!

But it's not just First Capital Connect who are at it. National Express also claims to be targeting recycling, while Virgin has set up newspaper recycling facilities at London Euston and is also rolling out on-board recycling on its trains, as is First Great Western.

The Stagecoach group has developed what it refers to as "an industry leading waste segregation and recycling operation" at South West Trains Wimbledon Traincare Depot, where waste is sorted into different types. The train company states that this scheme, which it calls "Garbology" is saving South West Trains around £70,000 per year in waste disposal fees. Other recycling schemes have been set up at nine pilot locations in partnership with waste management and recycling company SITA.

That's one heck of a lot of recycling going on and I haven't even covered the full length or breadth of Britain, so it may be worth finding out what your local train operator is getting up to and hassle them if they don't seem to be doing much.

Now it's all very well recycling a plastic bottle or a newspaper, but what if you wanted to recycle a train..you know...as you do...

If you are in the market, it's reassuring to know that you can get rid of a train or indeed pick up the odd part or two at Immingham Railway Terminals.

Hmm, now that could be a job for Little T, my four year old waste saboteur. Sometimes his Brio trainset resembles a train scrapyard, so I am sure he'd feel right at home!

So are you listening Michael Palin...the train that is?

If you don't get a shift on and stop that creaking, be warned because this is where you could end up. However, be rest assured, you'll be stripped of your cans and bottles first!

Oh dear, what have I let myself in for...there's probably a Michael Palin Carriage fan-club out there somewhere, full of people who are quite happy to travel on the funny little "train". Next time I'm on my travels I'd better watch my back.



Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin