A Train Station - Last Week

Clapham Junction – The Land of the dissatisfied commuter

I’ve had a big chip on my shoulder, as I am sure 99% of other train or public transport commuters do in fact, about the cost of the train commuting and the service we get for it in this country, for about as long as I can remember.

Upon hearing a recent story about¬†Southeastern trains refusing to print off a replacement ticket¬†thereby forcing the guy to have to ¬†buy brand new tickets for the rest of the year, has forced me into keyboard warrior mode and produce my first blog rant, a momentus occasion indeed! Furthermore, I tried to get into work early today only to discover there had been a very untimely¬†“Over-running engineering works”¬†at Clapham Junction, I either had to wait an hour for the next train or just come turn around head back home to work remotely, I chose the latter and decided to post this instead! ūüôā

First of all then… regarding that story. They think it’s absolutely fair to charge a guy who has already paid in full for a years worth of train travel up to another ¬£2000 because he lost his ticket – can you imagine this – a whole TWO times?! I mean Double-you-Tee-Eff!? It’s not even as if the tickets are decent and durable materials, simply being made out of a flimsy bit of cardboard. And these things are supposed to last a frigging YEAR!?

Even if you are meticulously careful and avoid losing the damn thing, they barely last six months anyway. And the magnetic strip to get through the automatic barriers wears out after 7-8 months, often sooner, meaning you have to queue up for the guard to let you through for the last 4-5 months of your season ticket. And god forbid you ask them to replace it for a newly printed one because if you lost that then you are facing a bill of another few grand, we all know how much it costs to print a bit of cardboard so that’s only fair enough of course!

Bottom line then – to charge that much for a replacement bit of cardboard that is simply a representation of a service you have already paid for¬†is criminal… literally in my eyes. It should be against the law and the government should step in and stop this sort of thing from happening.

Pathetic Performance Prevents Pleasant Passage

Now regarding the service you get for your hard earned… My current yearly ticket is over ¬£3000. I know people that go into central London are paying ¬£4k, ¬£5k and even more for the privilege of being rammed into tiny metal carriages, practically never getting a seat, and often experiencing delays (such as muggins here, this morning). While I fully appreciate Britain, especially in the South East, is fast becoming grossly over populated, and being crowded in central London is inevitable, I have to say that the reduction of services over the last few years is an absolute joke. I am speaking from a purely personal point of view at this stage by the way: My train, which is at just after 7 in the morning* from a station around 20 miles outside of London has gone from a 12 carriage beast down to an 8 carriage inadequacy in around 4 years, leaving the commuters fighting over the few seats that are left. The general crapiness of service in terms of delays does not really need re-stating except for maybe to point out the fact that many other countries seem to manage to run a decent service, and their tickets are often cheaper, relatively speaking of course.

Efficiency Emergency

This is a bug bear for most medium-large companies I have: They seem to love wasting money.

The perfect example for train companies, or many others in this country for that matter, is on air conditioning and heating. I don’t know if anyone else has realised but we live in the UK where the climate would generally be described as Cold/Temperate. The number of days where you’d actually need air conditioning on a train could probably added up using two hands, but for arguements sake let’s say around 50% of summer days you might need it on at a stretch, and even then only for a few hours of the day, barring our one in a blue moon “heatwaves” that seem to make everyone start acting crazy. However I find that still, at 8am in Autumn or Spring, where the outside temperature can’t be more than 16 degrees (C) the A/C is blowing cold air onto me. Conversely, there must be a certain temperature (say around 13 degrees) where the A/C goes off and the heating comes on. It would seem that the revolutionary idea of not using either when the temperature¬†is moderate¬†to save a bit of fare paying passengers cash, has not been thought of by the boffins in the National Rail Economic Efficiency Department (if it even exists, I am guessing not!).

In summary then, available services are being cut, while passenger numbers are increasing, while wasting money left right and centre, while mugging off individual honest paying customers using silly rules and regulations that should be illegal. And yet somehow having the gall to simultaneously increasing prices far above inflation.

And relax….**

The one obvious positive to take away from all of this is, one you are financially independant and out of the rat race, you won’t ever have to worry about rush hour commuting, so let’s get our heads down and work even harder to get to that goal!


*I get up this early not because I have to start work so early, it is simply in a vain attempt to get a seat, anything later and you have no hope.¬†Back¬†‚ÜĎ

**Well I have to say I feel a lot better now, I can see this becoming a regular feature. ūüôā¬†Back¬†‚ÜĎ