The ECB’s shiny new engine has had its first outing to great fanfare, much expense, approval from passengers. It’s been a visibly good summer for Sir Topham. As for that old favourite BranchLineBlast, parked in the siding and feeling rather neglected, a big weekend engagement this month, although passengers seemingly rather wonder about its future.
Long ago in the days of nationalisation Sunday League services maintained a regular schedule, One-Day Cup matches were played on a Saturday. 172 weekend fixtures over the summer at times, in places, to attract newcomers, with weekdays mainly the long format for established custom. Not everything was better in the 1970s, a lot of things weren’t, although as a way to run a railroad…….
Winds of change came, suits replaced secretaries and county T20 cricket, looking not unlike the second half of many Sunday League games, started in 2003. Aimed more at after work crowds, the funky innovations of the noughties included spectators in bath tubs. 10 of the 48 games in the first year were played on a Saturday or Sunday.
Station managers saw the £ signs, the competition greatly expanded in terms of the numbers of games. By 2019 the figure that was 10 had risen, but only to 35, 25 days for the RLC, a total of 60. While The Blast was unfortunate that cricket FTA paid for by adverts was a loss-maker, broadly the game invested in buildings before a new generation of supporters.
Which raises the question of whether it will now invest in encouraging more families, under 10s to come along? Those that have been on The 100 might find that actually BranchLineBlast has really quite similar carriages, gets up to speed pretty well and runs on the main lines.
It would have be said that in 2021 there was no obvious sign of it, rather a fixture calendar that started in early April, had almost no domestic white-ball cricket before the middle of June, then scheduled fewer Sat/Sun dates than in 2019. From which the question how long will passengers be waiting on the platform next season; as for those who do the administration for one engine, and give directions to the other, a pointed question as to which service, if either, will they be sending?