COLUMN: It’s about time working people were honoured says Westwell of Ely

Rosemary Westwell

Rosemary Westwell - Credit: Archant

It is time the honours list was overhauled.

If only real people working at the ground level, helping real citizens get a better life, could be the people who were given the honours.

Instead, while many well-meaning people on the list deserve a pat on the back, there are many more who have already received plenty of praise and fame - not to mention huge salaries that make life sweet. That should be enough.

I do not know if you have tried to catch a train recently, but thinking back over the year, I do not remember a single journey when there was not a problem. Yes, there are lovely new seats – but ones that are deliberately too small so that even a medium-sized person has to squeeze in and when an oversized person has to sit beside them, there is no chance of a comfortable journey. The 110 per cent of people squashing into carriages at peak hour give a very good impression of a third-world service.

Windows that crash open and cannot be contained, smelly toilets more often than not out of use, filthy tables that should have the food safety powers-that-be up in arms, trains that are delayed, or cancelled, drivers who don’t turn up and points systems that keep breaking down seem to be the order of the day.

So why honour the chap in charge of Network Rail, largely responsible for failing to solve many of these problems?

Why give Mark Carne a CBE? CBE, I’m informed, is an award of ‘Commander of most Excellent Order of the British Empire’. One could mutter most excellent ‘disorder’ in this case.

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To say it is unfortunate timing is not good enough. Any timing would be unfortunate. There is hardly a headline about Network Rail that does not contain the word ‘chaos’.

I note that the CBE is only awarded to someone already in a prominent position.

There are plenty of people in a prominent position who keep their heads down, do a decent job and actually run organisations really successfully with plenty of hands-on experience.

Most of us do not know the names of these people because they work hard, and rarely seek publicity.

In fact, the ones that I can think of are so unassuming that they would rather not be included in this list. They would rather just get on with the job.