I’m currently sitting on a very crowded train on the way home to Worcestershire having finally squeezed into a seat after standing for most of the journey. You might expect this at rush hour maybe but the time is 10:14pm. On the train from Leicester to Birmingham, I bizarrely had a massive carriage almost to myself. But then I changed at Birmingham New Street- the station you seem to have to go through to get anywhere in the world- and it all went downhill from there. To make matters worse, since it was quite late when I actually caught the train, the barriers were open at Leicester but despite this, I did the right thing and bought a £17 ticket. And it hasn’t actually been checked once the whole journey. Not once. And all I get for my money is the horrendously uncomfortable experience of being squeezed between an elderly Brummy and the train’s toilet door.
I’m conscious of sounding like a football fan who thinks he knows better than his team, the commentators and the coach and I don’t want to assume that it’s more simple than it is but I’m sure with the trains they haven’t got it right. Surely there must be a better way of planning the capacity required than this…
My mum used to regularly get a train from Evesham to Paddington when she worked for the British Heart Foundation 15 years ago and there was always only standing room for the 3hr journey back then. To her surprise when she used the same train last year it was still the same! What about that for a reputation of not listening to your customers’ needs!
The train from Leicester to Birmingham had 8 carriages and, as I’m now finishing this blog in my bed back home, I was able to count the Redditch bound train had 3. I’m almost certain the Redditch train had probably double the number of passengers.
I know they can’t predict exactly how many people will be on which train at which time but you would have thought they could have used counters on the ticket machines to get a bit of an idea and put the carriages where they are needed and also look at trends. Surely it is safe to assume that lots of people will be going out on the Friday night of Halloween weekend?
Or if its distribution of carriages that is the problem – if we haven’t got enough- buy some more! Admittedly for a new state of the art carriage it can cost upwards of £1million but in the railway world, where tarting up new street station costs £600million, it doesn’t seem so bad. And once you’ve bought them they last for years…Having an extra carriage on a train costs just a few pounds extra to put on as trains are actually very efficient due to their wheels having little friction and the fact they generally travel in straight lines. Once you’re sending a costly train from a to b it doesn’t cost a lot to add more carriages, and then passengers like me could have the pleasure of sitting on a hard seat with no leg room rather standing up sandwiched against a loo door.
I’m back in the ‘Shire now for our farm’s annual bonfire night on Saturday and some of my uni friends are following tomorrow. I will be interested to hear how many people travel on either crowded or empty trains.
Photos of the bonfire to follow…