22nd November 2002 at 00:00
Train travel has become a pioneering adventure. Clutching my carefully pre-booked ticket last Saturday, I watched the estimated time of arrival of my 8.30am train gradually receding into the far distance.

The imminent arrival of the 8 o'clock was announced to great excitement from the waiting crowds, only to be mysteriously cancelled. Finally an empty ghost train materialised and the station staff ran up and down the platform promising passengers it would take them to London.

Kings Cross underground was so dangerously overcrowded that the barriers were opened and passengers put on their honour to pay on arrival. I reached the National Governors' Council's conference very late, at the same time as colleagues from Nottingham who had been on five different trains to get there.

In contrast, the NGC does seem to be back on track at last, with funding secured for the next three years, professional staff running the office and harmony restored on the executive. Saturday's annual meeting agreed that better communication was needed to grassroots members.

Regular newsletters and an overhaul of the website are promised along with guidance on consultations. Perhaps when they have achieved all that, they can devise a way to make the trains run on time.

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