News ATI drivers

Adam Williamson awilliamson at
Mon Sep 10 10:29:12 PDT 2007

On Sun, 2007-09-09 at 12:53 +0100, Alan Cox wrote:
> > DON'T take the the bus at bay 18, this is a different company 
> > unrelated British Rail. 
> > 
> > Should anyone listen: British Rail SUCKS!
> British Rail was abolished in the 1980s. It was replaced by a mad setup of
> half regulated corporate fatcats who made things far worse.

Mid-1990s, actually. I know this because I was old enough to remember
it, and I was born in 1982. :) Wikipedia claims 1994-97, which seems to
match my memory, though of course one can never trust Wikipedia further
than one can throw it.

For those interested in the insanity of the British public transit
system (if you're not, skip to the last paragraph now), the setup now is
that the infrastructure (tracks, stations etc) is owned and maintained
by one company - previously Railtrack, a real private company. Railtrack
collapsed after some scandals involving accidents caused by its poor
management, and was replaced by Network Rail, a somewhat odd entity
which is a private company which isn't run for profit and is ultimately
(yet massively indirectly) controlled by the government.

The actual train services are run in a 'market' environment by a bunch
of different private companies. These own the rolling stock (trains) and
buy the rights to run them over the rails and stop them in the stations
from Network Rail. They handle their own ticketing. There are
additionally independent ticket brokers who will deal with ticketing
from the various companies for you. Each of these companies tends to be
based in a different area, with significant overlap, but no one company
operates everywhere (hence, of course, there is very little true

This system works *exactly* as well as you would expect, particularly if
you're trying to make a long journey with a couple of changes.

In other words, since the days of British Rail, the quality of the
convenience stores on the station and the public information displays
has improved measurably. The quality of the onboard food has increased
slightly (I love Douglas Adams' old joke that British Rail kept its
sandwiches fresh by taking them out of the packet and washing them once
a week). The convenience of booking a journey, the speed of travel and
the frequency of services have, to most independent observers, declined
greatly (except on the biggest direct services - the ones that actually
make money - like Manchester to London). Prices, of course, have
increased. Each of these private companies receives a substantial
government subsidy, and most of them operate at a nice profit.

Anyway, to get back on topic - now it's Monday, any news from any
ATI-involved X developers? It would be nice to know what's going to
happen with avivo and so forth.

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