Travelling recently 5+ hours to London (and then back) brought me only disbelief and frustration. Granted perhaps an oversimplification but running a train service is not difficult.
I don't mean the logistics - signalling, pathing, crew and stock placement - all of these things I can only imagine to be very difficult to get right indeed.
What I do mean is the front-of-house, the service the regular punter sees and gets…
When a foreign sounding voice attempting to do some kind of Lloyd Grossman impression repeatedly accuses everyone on-board of being a criminal and how we will be punished and humiliated… somehow it doesn't set the right persona for relaxing travel.
I'm not a smoker, however I have to be repeatedly told that in no uncertain terms that if I were to light up I'd be responsible for delaying the whole train with an unscheduled stop where I'd be removed and taken away by the British Transport Plods.
I also am already in the knowledge that this is the 12:30 from Edinburgh, the 13:53 from Newcastle, the 27:73 from Abergavenny, and that if I don't have a ticket, or if my ticket is for a train operated by the same company going to exactly the same place exactly 2 minutes behind the very train that I am on - I will have to pay six gazillion pounds in penalty fares or be carted off by these wonderful sounding chaps at the BTP.
Lovely, but hold on a minute, for the seven-teen-th time, I've got a valid ticket, I'm sitting in the right seat on the right train - for god's sake shut-up.
Now if I haven't succumbed and convinced that in the greatest probability that I am actually in fact a criminal, I decide I'm a little peckish. So I navigate my way towards the buffet car, jumping over the trolley dolly that has decided to serve every passenger in the entire coach before 'spotting' me and letting me - and the half dozen others - past.
We're met by Cruella - but I had to get a day job - Devil, who promptly barks in our direction, 'There's no hot food, there's a bag of crisps or this muffin, what do you want?'. Well love I was looking for some food, but… Mind you she can't have been the happiest bunny in the world when the company she works for cannot provide her with, a till - 'cups will do', paper to record sales - 'napkins will do', or anything worthwhile to sell!
No, don't get me wrong, I'm against anyone who tries to beat the system. You're on a train going from A to B, then buy a ticket from A to B. You're in public, then don't smoke. But I strongly believe that it is demeaning and unnecessary to repeatedly bark everything I shouldn't or mustn't do over a public tannoy in a confined space such as a train, to a huge majority of law abiding people.
If there are people breaking the law they should be punished, yes, but for goodness sake let everyone else get on with their lives in peace.
PS: While your at it, buy some equipment for your employees to use, and take that bleeding PA system off that guard.
Comments? Tweet me @mealybar, smoke signals, or homing pigeon, or something :)