Simon Calder, also known as The Man Who Pay His Way, has been writing about travel for The Independent since 1994. In his weekly opinion column, he explores a key travel issue – and what it means for you .
Richard’s birthday is December 12. I mailed him a map in due time. Or so I thought.
On Friday – a month and a day after the big day – he called to thank me for the item that had just been delivered. Next year I will make other arrangements with Richard’s card, perhaps arranging to deliver it myself (assuming the trains are running). I wonder how many people with similar experiences will abandon the Royal Mail after industrial action results in millions of undelivered cards?
I do not criticize the strikers for a minute, who are fortunately free to exercise their right to disrupt their activities by withholding their work. But I am sure the postal workers are, like their counterparts in the railway unions, aware that the disruption they are about to cause will have permanent effects. Just like rail strikes.
Research conducted in 2018 in Montreal (which I read so you don’t have to) concluded: “The average length of disruption to public transit service…significantly reduces demand for the service concerning. »
After 30 weeks of on-and-off rail strikes, lifelong train travelers can contemplate anything from reducing the frequency of trips to, at the most extreme end, returning home. Many of us will have been compelled to find new ways to travel – and hopefully make some welcome discoveries.
Here’s mine. Last weekend, towards the end of the latest bout of strikes by RMT union members, I landed at Gatwick airport at 10pm and had to fly home to London. Normally this would be one of the easiest airport transfers: fast and frequent trains taking around 30 minutes to the center of the capital.
But the walkout resulted in the sabotage of tens of thousands of passengers. The North Terminal taxi line stretched out the door and around the block. Some desperate travelers were asking every driver leaving the short-term parking lot to take an elevator.
The travel gods were smiling down on me: on the plane I met Dave, a former colleague, who volunteered to take me to a junction on the M25 across the North Downs.
With a wise hitchhiking and a tactical Uber, I quickly found myself in a place I had never explored before. Welcome to Morden, the deep south of London Underground.
The Tube does not extend far south of the Thames. Yet there is one tube station far enough from the City of London and the West End to be entirely within zone four, one of the furthest from the concentric rings that define fares.
Morden station, with its weekend night subway, was my lifeline to central London. And, I discovered, a serious transportation hub. Not quite on par with Heathrow Airport and Birmingham New Street station, perhaps, but a great choice for anyone needing to travel around the capital’s southwest quadrant.
Just one of the many buses – the brave K5 – takes you to distant lands such as Kingston, New Malden and Norbiton, while the South London tram spins north, connecting Wimbledon to Beckenham Junction.
Between them: Morden Hall Park, a beautiful open space under the care of the National Trust. The River Wandle meanders through it. Facilities include a rose garden, an urban farm and the Potting Shed cafe.
During the last weekend of January, the National Trust organizes a wellness weekend. The organizers urge us: “Welcome the new year by recognizing, exploring and eliminating the uncomfortable things that still linger in the body and mind.
Crikey. The discoveries that result from a strike take you in a new direction. Next time I’ll invite Richard.