Thursday, 3 January 2013

Poor Dumb Fools

Idle renewed his season ticket on New Year's Eve, thereby avoiding a 4%+ increase (something to look forward to at the end of the year). £4300, since you ask, to get from North East Hampshire into Waterloo, and the tubes and buses.

Today was a holiday, but rather than do my tax return, I decided to have lunch in London with a former junior banker who worked for me for two or three years but decided earlier in the year to study for an MBA in Milan, where he is now ensconced.

After lunching and buying some shirts in the sales, I wandered casually back to Waterloo to take the 1630 train. This is an agreeable train to catch, being pre-rush-hour and therefore half-empty. We took off at 1630 on the dot, I had newspapers and a pen for the crossword, and all was well with the world.

Well, we got as far as Sandown Park before the brakes came on in such a way that we experienced commuters know is not a good sign. And from 1645 until 1830, that's where we stayed. The driver, the guard, the man who answered the tannoy's baleful call "are there any employees of South West Trains on board?" - all of them proved completely useless when it came to getting us going again. Despite being only about ten minutes upline from Woking, a huge train depot and junction, it took them over an hour and a half to get a 'fitter' onto the train.

And you know what happened next? He simply uncoupled the rear five carriages from the front five, after the unlucky residents of the rear had been instructed to march forward to the front five. We left the dodgy half, with its electrical failure, sitting like a beached whale on the southbound fast track. It had been clear from the first minute of our sudden stop that it was electrical failure and that if the driver couldn't reboot it, we would uncouple. They told us so. But the driver didn't know how to do it, nor did the guard.

So, on idle's first day on the trains following a £4300 renewal, he is already in time deficit to the tune of 100 minutes to South West Trains. A figure which will surely rise to a thousand and more in the months ahead, never to be returned. A year of commuting stretches out in front of one like the Gobi Desert.

Of course, the train companies are required by their charter to recompense the poor dumb fools who suffer their gross inadequacy each year. Idle, like the other PDFs who renewed their season tickets this week, received a rebate..........

Of £24.


Blue Eyes said...

I have some sympathy for you. But in general you poor saps who get beaten up by the nasty train companies made your choices. If you wanted transport convenience ahead of the civilised semi-rural existence you would have made difference choices.

It appears that you are not willing to stump up the cash to pay for the line to be re-built and the staff re-trained. Who should? Me?

lilith said...

I'm afraid so, Blue Eyes. Trains are the arteries of the nation. Without them the roads would be a permanent car park and we'd be queuing for a loaf of bread instead of making it in to work. They should be paid for by the nation. Like the Armed Services and the police. There simply aren't enough properties in London for everyone who works there to live there.

Blue Eyes said...

OK I'll pay for your trains if you give me some of your garden. Hows about that?

Oh, you commuters want to have your cake and for someone else to pay for it? Who'd have thought?!

The funny bit is that the innner cities would be an awful lot more desirable to you lot if you lot hadn't abandoned them.

Sorry Lilith and Idle, but until you start subsidising my football season ticket and my holidays, I'm not happy to subsidise your choice of living arrangements.

idle said...

Football season ticket? Are you serious, Blue? Organised spitting, swearing, casual (occasionally serious) racism, two fingers up to authority? The most appalling role model yet devised for urban yoof?

There is a group that should subsidise your spectator 'sport', and that's the bunch of prima donnas and spoiled children who, even when barely competent, pull down a wage of £40,000 a week. The better ones, as we know, rake in £200,000 plus.

Anyway, I didn't advocate public subsidy. All I want is logistical expertise, managerial responsibility and good manners.

Blue Eyes said...

Glad to hear it, I'll just argue with Lilith then!

Re: football precisely my point. It is my idea of not-really-living hell to have to sit on a train for an hour or more to get home and/or arrange my affairs around the railway timetable. It is not your idea of fun to sit at a football stadium for 90 minutes.

lilith said...

I will post you some onions Blue Eyes :-)

lilith said...

Actually you are right Blue Eyes, commuter trains should go with this.

Blue Eyes said...

Ta, Lilith.

The secondary advantage of bringing Indian capacity trains to London would be that they might reduce unemployment.

idle said...

I think I was on that one last summer, lil. The 1305 Euston to Leicester, I think.

First Class was a bit hot and smelly but by 'eck, you got a decent samosa and green tea from the snack trolley.