Nine-year-old writes heartbreaking letter to Southern Rail bosses

Nine year old boy writes letter to Southern Rail bosses because he doesn't see parents

A nine-year-old boy has penned a heartrending letter to Southern Rail bosses - complaining he is tired of his parents "coming home late every night because of the rail strikes".

It comes as Southern Rail sees the first of three days worth of strikes this WEEK - in a dispute which has been ongoing since last April and seemingly has no end in sight.

See also: Passengers back legal review against Southern Railway

See also: Vintage Routemaster buses drafted in to 'save' commuters during Tube strike

In a damning indictment of the long running row between the unions and the employer, young Frankie explains that primary school pupils would make better negotiators.

He told them in no uncertain words that his commuter parents pay a lot of money for their season tickets and are "not getting value for their money".

Frankie says: "Surely there must be a way to solve these problems.

"At school we are taught to negotiate with each other to sort out our differences and clearly you have not learnt to do this.

"Please could you sort this out as soon as possible so my mum, dad and other commuters can get back to normal life again."

Frankie's dad Clive Cottrell, 45, a marketing specialist for Racing UK from Hove, says that his son wrote the heartfelt plea "spontaneously" off his own back - addressing it to both Southern Rail and his local MP.

Mr Cottrell told MirrorOnline: "We were surprised when he had told us what he had done.

"The strikes are clearly having an impression on him."

He said that it particularly took him and his wife, Catherine, 45, fundraising director at UNICEF, by surprise as his son hadn't previously spoken about the strike action and the impact it he felt it was having on their family life.

Mr Cottrell explained: "It's affecting families throughout. Kids not seeing parents as much as they should, people losing their jobs, people not getting to work when they should, people having to make other arrangements,...

"It's just endless frustration. We get a bus to Brighton and then the train from Brighton to London.

"The strike days aren't so bad - as everyone stays at home - but it's the non-strike days, when there is always some some level of action going on, when you are expecting a normal service at full capacity, that are hardest.

"You find people are stressed and angry and irritated and arguing with themselves.

"I find it frustrating - it's unacceptable they are taking this action - I can't understand why there's no progress."

Frankie emailed the letter off his own back to Southern Rail - receiving an automated email back thanking him for his complaint and detailing which days the strike action will be taking place this week.

He then forwarded it to his local MP Peter Kyle.

While attempting to reach London on a train during the strike action this morning, Mr Cottrell posted his son's note online this morning for Twitter users to read.

One, David Davis, said that "a 9 year old like Frankie could probably run the franchise better".

But not everyone was as receptive, with another Twitter user, Matthew Emson, posting: "Maybe they should consider working closer to home & the kid instead of themselves."

The long-running dispute is over pay, jobs and conditions - centred on how Southern Rail doesn't feel there is any need for train guards as drivers, in their minds, could operate doors as they do on London Underground.

The unions disagree who claim that puts the public at risk of injury.

10 scenic train trips in Europe
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10 scenic train trips in Europe

The line between Glasgow and Mallaig is one of Britain’s most eye-catching train journeys. During the course of the 164-mile route, the “Road to the Isles” hugs the banks of Loch Lomond on departure from Glasgow, before making its way past castles, mountains (including Ben Nevis) and waterfalls en route to Scotland’s west coast. Then, just as you approach the journey’s end, the track crosses the spectacular Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter movies.

There’s no disputing the Cote d’Azur is one of Europe’s loveliest coastlines, with golden beaches and bright blue waters stretching for more than 100km. Skirt the shoreline from Fréjus in France to Ventimiglia in Italy and you can give this sandy playground a closer inspection, because there are ample opportunities to stop and soak up the atmosphere if you catch one of the daily regional TER trains, which call at Cannes, Antibes, Nice, Eze and other stops along the way.

Keep your eyes on the skies on the daily InterCity from Venice to Munich, which weaves through the mighty Alps on the Austrian-Italian border. Following one of Europe’s great trade routes, the train calls at some of Italy’s finest Renaissance towns, before continuing to Innsbruck via the Brenner Alpine pass. The section between Verona, Bolzano and Fortezza is particularly striking as the train traces the river Isarco north in the shadow of the Dolomites, briefly crossing into Austria before arriving into Munich in time for dinner.

The narrow-gauge railway from Nice to Digne les Bains, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region, is a relative unknown in the world of scenic trains. A 90-mile journey taking around three hours, it crosses rivers and passes through enchanting communities such as St Andre les Alpes and Entreveux. This is a private railway, so it often remains undiscovered unless you’re on a tour. However, it’s open for exploration by independent travellers, too, departing Nice CFP station four times per day. 

A train trip doesn’t need to be long to be beautiful. The stretch from Messina to Catania in Sicily takes just 90 minutes, but the views of the coast and Ionian Sea are something to remember. If you’re travelling overnight from Rome, you’ll wake at daybreak to find the train being loaded onto a ferry. And from the moment you’re on Sicilian shores until your arrival in Catania you’re spoiled for choice – look east to see the rocky Mediterranean coastline and bobbing fishing boats, and west for none other than the peak of Mount Etna, Europe's tallest active volcano.

The joy of train travel is the transition from one place to another, watching the landscape unfold before you as you cross borders by rail. Starting out in Zurich’s cosmopolitan centre, this train quickly ascends into the Swiss Alps, passing green lakes, quaint villages, and snowy peaks. Just a few hours later you’ll descend into Italy, to the shores of Lake Como, catching a glimpse of the cupola of the cathedral and the lakeside villas bounded by Cypress trees. The Zurich to Como route is done on an everyday InterCity train, with no panoramic windows or fancy title to its name, yet it’s still a stunner of a trip. 

The Golden Pass refers to the stretch of railway from Montreux to Lucerne in the Swiss Alps. Though feasible in a day, the route isn’t one to conquer in such a short time, and should be savoured. With countless opportunities to get off and explore, it’s easy to build your own itinerary on Switzerland’s famous scenic railways. The region is home to a host of scenic services, including glass-topped panoramic trains and funicular railways, so it’s little wonder that the Oberland attracts such wide praise from train travellers. Between Lucerne and Interlaken the landscape is exceptionally beautiful, passing the emerald-green waters of Lake Lungern and lakeside hamlets at the Brunig Pass.  

Travelling at around 20mph, this scenic train is the epitome of slow travel. But although the Bernina “Express” hardly deserves its title, as it winds through the southern Alps, over bridges, gorges and precarious mountain passes, you wouldn’t want it to go any faster. Crossing some 200 bridges and passing through mountains via 55 tunnels, this is a feat of engineering so impressive that it has earned Unesco World Heritage status. The panoramic train has been designed to offer a ringside seat and as the rails mount the Albula pass to St Moritz, you won’t be disappointed by the views. 

Fjords, glaciers and snow-capped peaks provide the spectacle on the Bergen Line, one of Scandinavia’s most impressive train journeys. Travelling from Oslo to Bergen in around seven hours, the trip’s highlights include Europe’s largest mountain plateau, Hardangervidda. But it’s not just the views that impress; the railway itself is extraordinary. More than 15,000 men laid this track into the peaks and dug 182 tunnels out of mountain rock, by hand. Construction started in 1875 – and took 34 years to complete. 
An unexpected beauty in Spain, the train between Madrid and Oviedo offers a glimpse of classic Spanish countryside on its way from the capital to the north coast. And as the train approaches the Asturias region, and its principal city Oviedo, it climbs into the clouds, passing through the Picos de Europa mountains. Upon arrival in Oviedo, the train remains the best way to continue your explorations of the area: take a Feve narrow-gauge railway to Galicia and the Basque Country.

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