I admit that today I gave up!
I don’t exactly live out in the sticks, but then again, my local station isn’t the Clapham Junction of Surrey. It does, however, have the complete misfortune to be “served” by Southern Railway.
During the peak rush hour between 7.30 and 8.30am there are supposed to be five trains heading into London. I arrived for my usual one at 7.45 only to find that it had been cancelled, as had the 7.30 and the 8.15. The 7.54 was still on the board, but then that got cancelled as well. That left the 8.26 – all five coaches of it!
I didn’t have a very good night’s sleep. I’m getting over a cold and that, coupled with the emphysema, kept me up coughing for quite a bit of it. I also don’t breath very well when under stress or in humid conditions, so I decided to call in and take the day off.
Now, I wish that I could say that Southern’s piss-poor performance this morning was an aberration caused by last night’s storms, but, unfortunately, it has become the norm rather than the exception. Southern is now the byword for crap service. We are now six months into this year and not once, NOT ON ONE SINGLE, SODDING DAY has Southern Railway run the trains I use according to their own timetable. There has ALWAYS been something wrong.
The most common excuses they trot out are a “temporary shortage of train crew” or “unusual levels of staff sickness”. Forgive me, but this crap has been going on since last year. If you don’t have enough staff, hire some more. If your staff are that unfit that they keep chucking sickies, retire them on medical grounds and replace them. These are not difficult problems to solve.
And the cherry on top of all this mess is the latest round of strike action by the RMT – itself a dinosaur prone to bark at cars. Come on, people, you’re arguing about who closes the fucking doors!
Southern’s senior management hide in their ivory tower, happily trousering massive amounts of public dosh while we wait on crammed platforms in the pissing rain for an overcrowded, late and short-formed train. There is no point in complaining to them. Their social media and complaints teams employ apologists who frame their replies in Airhostessian, which when translated into English turns out to be a bucket of bland sop.
Our politicians are of no bloody use (now, there’s a surprise), because the rail system is no longer under any form of effective public scrutiny. The way in which BR was split up means that there are a lot of people making big fat salaries for being in charge, but there’s no-one in control or properly accountable. The whole mess was sold to us as increasing competition and providing choice for the passenger, who now has to be referred to as a customer. That implies that we have a choice, where, in fact, the only options are “suffer, bitch” or go by car.
I’m well old enough to remember British Rail. It had its faults, but it was never as unspeakably awful as Southern Railway.
Bring it back!