Friday, 25 November 2011

Some people love Fridays

Anyone who looks forward to Friday is obviously not a commuter on this line. My "on time" train arrived 12 minutes late, and then was swarmed by 4 transport police recovering a lost suitcase. Not a suspicious one, just a lost one. When they finally allowed us on, there was a stampede of people trying to get into seats while a hapless conductor was trying to swim against the current to put out seat reservations.

Once again, I have question the wisdom of putting on only 2 carriages on a train that hits 3 major cities during the evening rush period. I think I only managed to get into a seat because the conductor gave up on the reservations before he got to this end. There's been no attempt in 3 stops to check tickets, so perhaps at least a few people will get a free ride. We eventually set off 16 minutes late, which will inevitably put us behind a local stopping train or something. I'd like to just sit and read, but there is a girl halfway in my seat with her suitcase on her lap because she's scooted over to make room for her colleagues in the aisle. It's fine, and important, but I'm not really in the mood to listen to endless prattle about breast feeding intervention strategies for new mothers.

I was off yesterday recovering from a tummy bug, but dragged myself in for a meeting today (and to collect a turkey - long story). Let's just hope for everyone's sake that I don't have a relapse, because there are about 40 people crammed into the aisle between me and the nearest receptacle. That would make everyone's Friday night, I'm sure.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Train theatre

Ok, train company. Can we just stop pretending now? Frankly, the storyline that the evening train is going to arrive at 18:41 is simply not believable. You might as well just be honest and say that you have absolutely no idea when the damned thing is likely to arrive. Not enamored with the theatre metaphor? Let's try science instead.

If my students submit a report with statistics, it is expected that the numbers include a standard error of the mean (usually indicated by +/-). In your case, the arrival time is always accompanied by a +. This indicates that you are actually misrepresenting the true time at which the train arrives.

In the last few weeks*, my T,W,Th, Fri journeys have gone something like this:

25/10 14 mins late
26/10 24 mins late
27/10 on time (anomalous)
28/10 22 mins late (on hour earlier train)
1/11 8 mins late
8/11 10 mins late (am train)
9/11 30 mins late (this was on 17:22 start, which involved 2 delays and a sprint to have doors slammed in my face on connection)
10/11 29 minutes late
11/11 ~10 mins late (I'd stopped caring by end of week)
15/11 I forgot to look
16/11 trains *CANCELLED* after waiting for 2 hours at the station, Train Buddy drove us. (More on this in a forthcoming post).
17/11 10 mins late
18/11 morning train 11 late (and short 2 carriages), evening train 14 minutes and counting as I type.

*missing dates indicate days on which I was so fed up that I arranged to work from home.

Let's hope next week is better. Perhaps we might aim for 1-2 days of on-time service before December, when we can fully expect snow or leaves to shut the rails down altogether.

-Apologies to my dear readers for the complete lack of humor lately. I'm too annoyed and tired to even try to find the funny in this.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Betcha I don't get a response

There's no compensation for delays of less than 30 minutes, and the most compensation I've ever received for anything has been a whopping £9. However, I'm fed up and have sent the following letter, along with the standard claim form:

Dear Customer Relations,

Please find the enclosed Delay Repay form. Although the 17:22 was technically only delayed by about 10 minutes, it meant that despite sprinting across Manchester Piccadilly I missed my connection to Sheffield (arriving in time for the doors to slam shut in my face). The next train was not for another 25 minutes and was also delayed by about 8 minutes. I arrived a full 31 minutes after I should have done, and was unable to work productively during the trip, which is why I opt to take the train rather than driving in the first place.

This was actually the 6th train of 9 evening journeys that has arrived late in the last couple of weeks. Sometimes it’s only a matter of 7-15 minutes, but it’s enough to ensure that I miss buses, evening appointments and generally arrive home frustrated and exhausted nearly every night. None of these journeys individually adds up to a compensable delay; however, cumulatively it has added well over an hour of inconvenience to my life in the last week alone.

Quite often, the train is crushed to standing room only and overheated. Why on earth there are only two carriages on a train that goes through 3 of the largest cities in the North during rush hour is utterly incomprehensible.

I pay an extortionate amount of money –over £4500- for this service each year, and it is quite frankly just not good enough. I would appreciate it if only as a token gesture the company would a) acknowledge the issues I have raised in this letter and b) offer some sort of meaningful compensation for the prolonged torture that has become my daily commute.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


Disgruntled season ticket holder

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Today went like this...

4.5 hours sleep, alarm in the dark at 4:45 am. Out the door at 5:30. Arrive at work, sun barely up. Work straight through with out food or bathroom break until it's dark again. Miss train. Next train gets stuck. Sprint for connection and miss it. Wait for next train. That train is delayed. Bus smells of feet. Walk in door just shy of 15 hours after leaving. Miss seeing my kid awake at today. Hoping for a glass of wine and an episode of The Wire before I go to sleep and do it all again tomorrow.