return of the railway rant

For those of you who eagerly visit this corner of the Blogosphere in anticipation of another railway related rant your boat has come in again.

Yesterday, I was returning from work and on arrival at Horsham, the train did not divide as planned*. Instead, after a bit of bumping around, an abrupt announcement told us without apology or explanation that the whole train was going to go fast to Barnham without stopping at any intermediate stations and that those passengers requiring said stops should "leave the train immediately". So, a large number of passengers were then thrown out in to the freezing cold with a wait of more than half an hour for the next train. One wonders if Southern Railway actually cares at all about the people who pay to use their trains.

Although I can appreciate that it was not directly their fault, the general attitude of most of the Southern staff on the train and on the platform left a lot to be desired. Initially no-one offered any sort of apology or made any effort to help at all, and in some cases they were downright rude. It can’t be easy for them when faced with (understandably) irate passengers, but they didn’t exactly help the situation. Having been in Tesco's again earlier where one member of staff had answered my query with "Dunno" before ambling off, I'm starting to wonder what has happened to the concept of Customer Service in British society.** In my book, you might only be paid to dispatch trains or stack shelves, but you are still the public face of the company and I think that you do have a duty to help in whatever way you can. Besides, much as you might enjoy dispatching empty trains, who's going to pay you to do it?***

The excuse we eventually extracted**** from the Station Manager was that there was no conductor on board, which means that the train couldn't stop safely at stations with short platforms. This does make some sense, except for the fact that I'm fairly certain that one of the employees who threw us off the train in an insolent "not my problem" sort of way was in fact a conductor. Surely the nice people at Southern wouldn't lie to their passengers?

If you're a bit worried about me and want reassurance that I'm not alone in my rantings, or you get such a kick out of it that you crave more, then you might want to visit these sites for a bit of light reading.

Meanwhile, I'm grateful to the man who took the whole bundle of complaint forms from the Station Manager and actively handed them out to the shivering rows of passengers on the platform at Horsham. I will be sending mine off and hoping that the New Year dawns with yet more Rail Vouchers.

*That in itself is annoying. I can see the reasons for it, but since the timetable change my journey has been 'enhanced' with a 10 minute wait at Horsham whilst someone faffs about joining and splitting trains.

** Despite comments like this, I am actually under 40.

*** The Department for Transport (DfT) of course. How could I forget?

****Like blood from a stone.


Chuck said…
Yeah, the railways have been going downhill since Beeching... And apparently the prices went up yet again at the beginning of the month. Joy.

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