Friday, January 15, 2010

Nightmare trek ends bad week for East Coast Main Line...

The week started snow bad for East Coast Main Line (and its ‘customers’), with trains that never were. But as the freeze appeared to thaw, my experience was that Peterborough-Kings Cross train ‘service’ became worse rather than better.

My week has just been rounded off with a truly nightmare trek home on one of the most overcrowded trains I’ve had the misfortune to be packed onto in over 30 years of full and part-time commuting.

I expected this evening’s rush-hour tube hops on the Circle, then Victoria lines to be the usual squeeze. And they were.

I was daft enough to look forward to a little more space for the 90-odd mile - and rather more expensive - journey to Peterborough.

But no. As the train crawled out of Kings Cross, every carriage had people standing in the aisles. I was forced to squeeze into the tiny vestibule between two carriages which I shared for the duration with enough bodies to make two full football teams, complete with a compliment of subs (...if only there were a subs bench!)

To add insult to injury, the guard was soon picking his way through us sardines, demanding to see all tickets, no doubt to make sure no-one was daring to travel on a ‘cheap’ ticket.

I was so tightly wedged between a door and three fellow travellers, I would have had real difficulty getting my hand in my jacket to extract my ticket and told the guard so. I added that given the state of Third World overcrowding on the train he was responsible for, I thought he had a bloody cheek worrying about tickets.

He clearly realised that even if I could retrieve my ticket, he would struggle to get near enough to check or clip it. So he sensibly suggested that I keep my ticket in my pocket and he moved on!

With the guard in full retreat, I shared my frustration with the rest of the Coach B Vestibule first team, explaining that my £87 ticket had bought me a cancelled train on my outward journey this morning and now, no seat on my return journey, not even space to stand in relative comfort.

He too had been delayed by a train that never was this morning and were we clearly in the same er, boat? heading north. Then he produced his Leeds-London ticket which had cost him a staggering £224...

Our conversation was interrupted by the worst moment of the ordeal was when the East Coast’s ‘at seat’ (er, what seat?) drinks and snacks trolley (aka a surefire cash cow within a cash cow) was forced through the vestibule on its relentless drive, sending us sardines falling over each other to avoid a broken leg.

Talking of legs, I’m just starting to get the circulation back in mine. My back will take a little longer to recover.

What an absolute disgrace.

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