Yes, it's that time of year again. The new rail timetable has come into force. According to our local station clerk, everything changes because 'someone up there who obviously never travels by train gets a bee in his bonnet'. This sympathetic man did try to lessen the blow by informing me that those travelling north have to contend with totally impossible connections. Some solace]
I am a working mother in a family of four, three of whom travel by train every day. I, mercifully, use rail irregularly, as I prefer to arrange my appointments in London so I can travel by car. Whether BR is privatised or not we have no choice of service. The only difference is that instead of complaining to British Rail, we now complain to the West Anglia & Great Northern railway operating company, in the run-up to the great sell-off. BR never replied to our letters; will you be any different?
Each year we spend several thousand pounds with your organisation. Other suppliers would value our custom - you just throw our lives into turmoil.
We had it all beautifully worked out. Husband with kids departed home at 07.33 to Shepreth station for kids to catch the 07.46 to Cambridge. Husband continued journey to Royston by car to catch the wonderfully fast 08.08 non-stop service to King's Cross (journey time 40 minutes). Now what do we do? From this morning, the children's 07.46 train will depart at 07.51, but the fast 08.08 has been taken off, replaced by the 07.56 (journey time 44 minutes) or the 08.00 (journey time 51 minutes). Neither give my husband enough time to reach Royston from Shepreth without breaking the speed limit. He could make the 08.25, which replaces the 08.29 (journey time 46 minutes), but this now takes 60 minutes and will make him late for work.
I want an explanation. I want you to put the timetable back to the way it was before.
I rang your local customer relations department. The lady who answered the phone informed me of the name of the man in charge - but he wasn't in. The staff of the West Anglia & Great Northern were on holiday. Why? British Rail always takes the Tuesday off after a bank holiday. Surely not the new regime too, as it prepares for the real world? What about his boss? He turned out to be the public relations manager - he wasn't in, of course. 'Could you give me the name of the person in charge, someone who carries clout?' I asked again. That turned out to be you. But could I get anyone even to answer the phone at your London headquarters? Old habits die hard, don't they?
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