Grumpy Old Men On The Trains

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Moved from Colins Blog, and now one of the Random Writings about Train Travel ...

Grumpy Old Men on the Trains

Following on from my earlier story about train travel ( Train Fare Confusion ), I had another interesting journey that you might like to hear about.

I set out with high hopes from home for my local station, sure that I would catch my train with few problems. That was, indeed, the case. In fact, the train seemed to have stopped somewhere for a quick coffee, no doubt being late deliberately to ensure that I would catch it with no trouble. Well, that was Merseyrail Electrics - always thoughtful.

I was now faced with a dilemma, though. Should I carry on as planned and change at Chester and Crewe, or should I change tack and go via Liverpool? The latter seemed a good choice. There were two trains to connect with at Liverpool, and if I missed the first, I could always get the second. Liverpool it was.

So I arrived with minutes to spare. Trotting gently to platform 8, however, I started to slow as I realised that there was no train there, although there were many people clearly loitering with intent.

The train, I discovered, was over 50 minutes late.

A very nice person announced - several times, actually - that they were desperately sorry for the inconvenience being caused. I'm sure that made some people much happier, but I was curious. Just why was the incoming train 50 minutes late? Correction, 52 minutes late. Correction, 57 minutes late. Alas - we were never told. Not even the usual uninformative, catch-all "Operational difficulties."

Then I made a mistake. "My" train, the 18:18, ended up leaving at about 19:20, but the 19:20 was about to go out right behind it. I thought: "Nice quiet train - I'll get that one."

Hmm. We had to wait for a member of the crew, who was on another, late, incoming train.

Oh well.

So there I was, writing this account while on a train for London. I should have arrived at 21:41. In the end I arrived at 23:00.

And the rubber seal on the window was coming off.

I run a small company, and I have had a glimpse of the problems involved in scheduling, shift patterns, maintenance, running times, delays, etc. I wouldn't want to run a railway company, really I wouldn't. Unlike many people who complain and moan, I do actually have a clue as to just how hard it is. But spare a thought for me. Despite the personnel on the ground being helpful and considerate, I still felt helpless and ignored.

Given that occasional late trains are unavoidable, I have no idea what to suggest.

Except a simple, transparent, condition-free refund policy.

I recently stayed at a Premier Travel Inn. While I was showering in the morning, the lights went out. Very disconcerting, as the bathroom was pitch-black. Not many windows, you see.

I filled in a comment form, mostly to say that the staff had been helpful, cheerful, and efficient, but almost in passing I mentioned that the lights had gone out. I wanted to make sure they were fixed before the next customer used the room.

Without asking, I was given a full refund.

And immediately I booked my next stay.

I don't know if story has amused you, but perhaps you have been given cause to think. Perhaps the future of service could be improved, even if only marginally, because I have made use of the extra time gifted to me by a late running train.

Just a thought.



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