Roberts’ Reflections: Catch a train, catch a virus?

Today (June 15) is the next step towards the new normal or so we are told. Non-essential retail outlets (shops to you and me) can reopen. The general public, though, are still being discouraged from all public transport except for essential journeys and if they do travel, they must wear a face covering. These strange times are becoming stranger in my opinion with the lockdown being eased despite the alert level (whatever happened to that) not falling. Of course, I wish all the newly opened businesses well, but you won’t find me rushing to them just yet πŸ€”

Mention of the alert levels reminds me of another mystery disappearance “The Williams Report” – remember that, the report destined to bring big change and sort out the railway once and for all? Well, according to the latest reports its been held up by the Coronavirus – does that mean it’s in intensive care with the DfT desperately fighting to save it? πŸ’ͺ

There has been a lot of controversy of late over the extension of IR35 to the private sector. To be really honest, it doesn’t bother me too much. I have contracts both inside and outside IR35 and it always depends on what you have to do and the management chain supervising the work. For roles inside IR35, I’m quite happy to be treated like any other employee and have income tax and national insurance deducted at source. What I’m not so keen on is when the employer deducts the employer national insurance from your day rate as well! Where is the fairness in that? πŸ‘€

I attended my first CER meeting via Skype earlier this month and its remarkable how quickly one adapts to large meetings over the Internet. 17 people from all over Europe attended and heard the latest progress regarding the OPE TSI. This meant that the meeting was largely taken up with understanding the latest ERTMS change requests that have railway operations implications in readiness to express our opinions on them in August. πŸ›€οΈ

With all the demonstrations going on at the moment, it has given me pause for thought as I think of all the black (and other members of the BAME community) colleagues that have helped me through my railway career and even before that. Without their help my life would not have been so rich nor would I have enjoyed my time on the railway quite so much and so I thank each one of you and can truly say that Black Lives Matter. πŸ–€

I hope everyone reading this is staying safe and well. Don’t hesitate to comment on this message, good natured debate is constructive. πŸ‘


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