‘Not enough staff’ at ev­ery stage of £50 trip

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

GRUMP alert. I rarely travel on pub­lic trans­port so I was re­ally look­ing for­ward to tak­ing a train last week. A proper one, with re­served seats and (oh joy) cof­fee served at the ta­ble.

I felt as ex­cited as a child go­ing on a steam train to the sea­side.

Un­like the Un­der­ground, I’d have a win­dow with a view. Cows and sheep would wave at me from green fields, un­tainted by mo­tor­way grime and sand­wich wrap­pers.

I could make eye con­tact with the friend who was ac­com­pa­ny­ing me, rather than gaz­ing gloomily into the dis­tance at smelly lor­ries.

As I was busy, Mr F of­fered to book the train tick­ets – he didn’t tell me he’d cho­sen a quiet car­riage. Yes, very funny.

Ten seconds after my friend and I took our re­served seats at Euston, we were told off by a pas­sen­ger, for talk­ing. She grimly pointed to the no­tices which banned mobiles (good) and un­nec­es­sary noise (hmm).

Were we re­ally noisy? Or un­nec­es­sary? Pos­si­bly…

We slunk off to find dif­fer­ent seats, which (grrr) had no view. Why can’t trains be de­signed to give all pas­sen­gers at least a de­cent win­dow?

We also had to travel back­wards, which we both hate. There was no trol­ley ser­vice, so we slumped into our seats and fell into a sulky doze.

At Birm­ing­ham New Street, the es­ca­la­tor lead­ing from the plat­form had bro­ken and there was no sign of a lift or stairs; not even any staff to help peo­ple.

Ev­ery­one – in­clud­ing el­derly peo­ple and those car­ry­ing chil­dren – strug­gled up the steep es­ca­la­tor steps with heavy cases.

At the sum­mit I re­ported this, but was told there were not enough staff; an echo of the young man serv­ing in my Vir­gin train’s empty buf­fet car, when asked why there was no trol­ley ser­vice.

But those who are em­ployed don’t seem to care. Hav­ing paid more than £50 for my ticket, I did not have to present it once – not at any bar­rier nor to any per­son. Any­one could have trav­elled on that train for noth­ing. I bet many do.

No won­der travel is so ex­pen­sive and keeps ris­ing for those of us who do cough up.

Heaven help HS2 – and now pos­si­bly HS3. With staff and bosses like this – and why should it be any dif­fer­ent? – it’ll never re­coup its costs. And we’ll all go mad.

Catch up with Bar­bara at www.getwest­lon­don.co.uk/au­thors/bar­bara-fisher/

Bm@il

Ev­ery week BAR­BARA FISHER looks at is­sues that af­fect us all – the is­sues that get you talk­ing. You can join in by email­ing bmail­bar­bara@gmail.com

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