As most people outside of the UK are probably aware, the British are a nation of whingers! Whining poms we are called in Australia and for good reason. We are ridiculously nostalgic and pine for the days when everything was better but when we are responsible for making today's stuff better, we complain and we make excuses.

The Brexit debate/referendum/disagreement demonstrated this to a large scale. The idea that any change was bad, leaving the EU was bad, our economy would be ruined, our country would be ruined, everything would be ruined, except of course, that many countries exist quite successfully outside of the EU.

The simple fact is that we need to do our job properly. We can;t count on governments, partly because they are mostly at the idealistic end of the spectrum, many lack any practical experience in the areas they lead so if we have a problem with the roads, the Roads Minister is not going to come round and fix them. He/she is likely to call the Council who will simply blame a lack of money.

I started this rant after reading about people stranded on a (newly built) train for 6 hours after it broke down. 6 hours stranded just north of the city of Exeter, not a million miles from either Bristol or Plymouth, where there are depots with other trains in. Not far from Exeter St Davids, where there are several other trains.

So what? Trains break down, that's fine. New trains break down, that's probably fine too. What's not fine is that a 100% standard everyday operating condition takes 6 hours to deal with. This would take some coordination but every Train Operating Company has a control room and sometimes it is shared between other businesses and Network rail for inter-business coordination. What should happen is there should be a standard operating procedure for what happened with as few steps as possible.

1) Ascertain whether the train can be recovered (10 minutes)
2) Ascertain whether the problem is known well enough and can be repaired on-site (20 minutes)
3) Find out how long the repair from 2 would take (if possible to repair on-site)
4) Get out the alternative route book for other services that will be affected by the breakdown
5) Get on the hotline to the depots and/or stations to find either locomotives to tow the unit to somewhere helpful or otherwise detrain the passengers.

I would suspect/hope that this already exists but what is not acceptable is how long everything is taking. Don't send an engineer to the train to fix it if you don't know what's wrong before finding a replacement train because if they can't fix the problem after waiting 30 minutes to get to site, then you have wasted time.

What the process allows, more than anything else, is for a number of scenarios to be run with the procedure to question whether certain locations, services, size of trains etc. would make any of the steps difficult. What is the furthest that an engineer would have to travel to the broken-down train? If that is too far, should there be an engineer on call at some random station just in case? Should drivers have more training in engineering fault-finding?

I saw an example on the TV at Reading station where a broken down multiple-unit took about 2.5 hours to remove from a platform to a depot that is adjacent to the station! 2.5 hours! "We've never towed a dead unit with another unit" 1) Why not and 2) Why did it take so long to get that completely expected scenario authorised?

I do understand that there is a lot of fragmentation in certain public or public/private industries but we need some braver management who won't just accept the difficulty or lack of money etc. before making things work but they will push for improvements.

What we should definitely never have is a breakdown that takes longer than it takes to travel from London to Edinburgh by train to get the passengers back to the station they just left and then with all the joys of arranging onward transport.