I worked for South West Trains for four years, from 2005-2009. In that time I was constantly impressed by the dedication of my colleagues. I have never worked for a company where the staff have been so committed to customer satisfaction, nor so driven by personal motivation. Only after working for a Train Operating Company (TOC) did I come to realise what problems are faced in providing a passenger train service. Without that knowledge I find it hard to listen with credulity to anyone criticising a TOC.
Passengers only look at their own requirements, without giving a thought to the challenges that TOCs face. Passengers are not generally aware of the way TOCs integrate with Network Rail, who own the tracks. They often donít realise that the actual train stock is leased. They donít realise that someone holding the doors so that friends can board can create a knock-on delay that can lead to cancellations and delays. They donít realise that a yob trespassing can also have this effect. More to come...
The views expressed here are my own and not necessarily the same as anyone elseís!
Some recent articles which may be of interest to rail users:
This picture, of vandals at a station (not one served by SWT) shows just how good the CCTV is at British stations and on trains and buses.
A true train story from RailChat:
Giggle at Bristol Temple Meads yesterday morning.
1125-Dishevelled blonde appears at booking office window. "1029 York platform?"
Clerk answers "56 minutes ago platform 3."
Blonde runs off, no please/thank you etc as usual.
1128-Dishevelled blonde returns-"That ***** train goes to Carlisle,doesn't stop at York!"
Clerk answers "Please refer to original answer - IT LEFT 59 MINUTES AGO!!!"
Dishevelled blonde-"Well it went early then..........."
Clerk-"I presume you put your clock forward?"
DB-"Huh?" (CHARGEMANíS WHISTLE BLOWS IN BACKGROUND)
DB-"You've deliberately made me miss the York train now!!!"
Clerk 2 intervenes before fireworks.
C2-"The clock went forward last night, itís now 1130"
DB-"What has that got to do with me?"
C2-"It has happened every year for the other 20 years of your life!!!"
DB-"I don't normally get the train on the Sunday when this happens!!"
C2-"Do you have your ticket?"
DB-"No it's in the machine."
C2-Well you wouldn't have got on the platform without it anyway."
DB-"I'd have told the man......"
C2-"Well whatís the reference and I'll take it out here for you."
After much ado, the ticket emerges - Value Advance A.
Clerk 2-"Itís an advance, you have to buy a new single, £67.50."
DB-"Give me the other one back, I'm going to complain to someone high up in BRITISH RAIL about all this clocks business......"
Clerk 1 falls off chair laughing as clerk 2 bangs head on counter.
...the day after the clocks went forward!