Posts Tagged ‘trains’

St Pancras Station nightmare

May 29, 2023

Thirty minutes to change trains from King’s Cross to St Pancras. Doable?

Climb up steps to the entrance. Walk in. No information, no staff.

Take a lift to a lower level. None the wiser.

Take lift back up. No not working. Eventually it works.

Ask. Told go back down to lower level. Lift not working. Find another lift.

Platform I require, long walk, a lower level.

I arrive to find train departing.

LNER ticket nightmare

March 21, 2023

Gatwick Airport has no ticket office at Gatwick Airport Station. Second busiest airport in the country, a very busy train station (currently undergoing expansion, and no ticket office.

This left me with no choice Tuesday evening of last week than to try and book on-line.

Several attempts, half an hour later, and I find I have paid for two sets of tickets, full price and Rail Card discount.

Now second nightmare , I am engaged with a robot. I ask for a human being. After several times of asking, I am told the office is closed.

And to add insult to injury, I am told to collect my tickets from the ticket office.

I try twitter. I am told to cancel my ticket. This I succeed, after a couple of attempts.

If I have to collect my tickets from a ticket machine, I may as well buy from the machine.

I head off to Gatwick South Terminal to use a machine.

I ask a pig-ignorant Indian by the name of Harold who is incapable of speaking intelligible English to operate the machine. He refuses. He refuses to help other passengers who speak his help.

Back into the terminal building, I once again battle with the LNER website. I can find no option for Railcard. I pay full price

Back to the station, battle with the ticket machine, and manage to extract three tickets.

Had I paid for my tickets at a ticket office, it would have taken mea couple of minutes.

Next morning when I go to catch my train, I find a long queue at the ticket machines.

The time shown for the train 1046. My ticket and the website 1049.

Lincoln Central RMT train strike

July 27, 2022

I thought I would join the RMT picket line outside Lincoln Central train station.

There was no RMT picket line. Lincoln Central was closed, no trains.

I guess if station closed, no trains, no need for a picket line, if can deploy resources elsewhere.

But I would argue there is a need to have a presence, to explain their case and counter government propaganda.

No trains Reading to Gatwick

July 10, 2019

I thought leaving Oxford at 7-30 I would catch the same time train as I did a couple of weeks ago leaving at 6-30. Either I was too late or no CrossCountry train, which I had assumed runs hourly. Wait until 2006 and catch train for Paddington which stops at Reading.

Train ran slow. I just missed a train from Reading.

Next train at 2235, no trains for two hours for what is a service of two trains an hour.

What of trains to Gatwick, planes to catch, what alternative transport has been arranged? Nothing, no information, no announcements.

I was told to find a Duty Manager.

A train to Basingstoke, leaving at 2107. I could go a very long way round. Guard and driver see me not looking very happy. Asked what’s up, I told them. I asked could I catch the Basingstoke train. They said yes.

At Basingstoke just missed a train. Have to cross to a central platform to see display for trains, then cross back again. A girl came in late from Salisbury, next rain to Reading cancelled.

She asked did the train I was waiting for go to Woking. I said yes, then told her she had just missed a Woking train.

On reflection I realised if she wanted Reading, she wanted Wokingham not Woking.

I caught the train to Woking, then bus. Arrived home 2220, 15 minuted before the train would have left Reading had I waited two hours.

Nightmare. Go out anywhere, never know if will get back home. Last week stranded at Alton, no trains, all trains cancelled, no information.

Situation is not helped by stations not manned, or at large stations like Reading, no staff to be, no announcements, no apology. And no one cares, at least the train companies do not care. The staff are almost begging for the trains to be taken into public ownership as they a see on a daily basis how bad the service has become.

Canvas Coffee

September 24, 2018

Stations are places where do not get great coffee, in general it will be undrinkable coffee from one of the corporate coffee chains. There are though exceptions, Small Batch kiosk outside Brighton Station, FCB kiosk on Guildford Station (though depends very much on who is serving), a kiosk around the side of King’s Cross Station.

Portsmouth Station a strange station, end of the line, and yet a small station with two lines. At least it was, now a parallel elevated line runs past the station onward to Portsmouth Harbour. Portsmouth being a major port, begs the question why the original line did not run to the harbour?

At Portsmouth Station, Canvas Coffee. A quick look, nothing worth eating, I decided to pass and asked of Hideout Coffee, a few minutes walk away.

Not too difficult to find, past the Civic Offices, across a square polluted by a massive TV screen, like something out of Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four, carry on, down the side of Starbucks. A strange battleship grey building only darker.

A sign Hideout and a locked door. On the door

this is not a coffee shop there is no coffee sold at this address

I banged the door. No response. Out of sheer cussedness, rang a doorbell for an office, no response.

Back to Canvas Coffee.

Canvas Coffee gives every impression of a pop up shop, dark and gloomy, unfinished business. When I arrived off the train it was empty, now busy.

A cookie and a cappuccino. A fiver for a sandwich got to be joking.

The coffee was at best mediocre. From The Roasting Party, as used by Coffee Lab in Winchester and a kiosk at foot of Hungerfood Bridge on the London South Bank, it should have been far better than mediocre.

Canvas Coffee is a social enterprise, it lends people a helping hand. The people I talked to were friendly and helpful. I do not wish to be too critical on the coffee as it could be someone being given a helping hand.

On sale coffee from The Roasting Party and from Sunday Coffee Roasters. Not heard of. Their own roast. They only roast on a Sunday. Having tried a coffee, I decided to give the Sunday coffee a miss.

It was then either Hunter Gatherer or Southsea Coffee, both in Southsea, a bus ride away.

Craft Coffee

August 22, 2018

I usually give myself an hour to get across London to catch a train from King’s Cross, if lucky I can do it in half an hour. Today I gave myself an hour and a half. Why? I wished to visit the street food market and a coffee stall located somewhere behind the station.

I was looking for Noble Espresso. All I could find was a wooden counter with Craft Coffee written across it. Was this declaring what they served or the name of the stall?

Craft Coffee is the name of the stall. Nobel Espresso has sold up, moved on, and Craft Coffee had taken over their pitch.

Was their coffee as good? They hoped so.

I was served an espresso. It was excellent. A single origin coffee from Brazil roasted by Notes.

I asked why was their stall tucked behind the station not as would logically expect with the street food market. No gas or electricity which they need to power their stall.

King’s Cross Street Food Market

August 22, 2018

One of the advantages of catching a train from King’s Cross, indeed reason to arrive with more than a few minutes to spare, is the street food market in front of the station.

My favourite stall is the cheese stall, run by Borough Cheese.

Excellent Comte, indeed until today, Comte is the only cheese I have seen on the stall, but today not only Comte, also feta cheese, and a cheese I had not encountered before Tome de Jura.

After a quick tour of the market, I went off in search of a coffee stall, which is not as would logically expect with the street food stalls, but around the back of the station. Craft Coffee, worth going in search of, serves excellent coffee.

On return, cakes, some savouries, and of course cheese.

The guy running the stall was sadly not that knowledgeable on the cheeses, but could tell me made from raw milk, unpasteurised milk.

He was not there at first, gone to get a coffee. Where, the coffee stall? No, Pret a Manger.

Why oh why do these artisan stalls not support each other, why get a crap coffee from Pret, now owned by Vulture Capitalists, when there is a quality coffee stall nearby?

European owned British rail companies

January 4, 2017

Passengers on European railways would like to thank British rail passengers for supporting their railways.

Foreign state railways own most of our rail network.

When we see rail companies making massive profits, and those rail companies are owned by foreign state railways, the profit they make is ploughed back into their own national railways.

Also true of electricity. EDF is a French electricity company.

State-owned railways is ok, so long as it is a foreign state railway does the owning.

We must take our railways back into public ownership.

Not nationalisation.
It has to be some form of open coop, where the rail staff, passengers and the state have a stake.

The beginning of the working week, saw yet another inflation busting hike in rail fares, for a service that is abysmal.


Disgraceful behaviour of guard on 1234 Reading-Gatwick train

October 21, 2016

There is a problem  at North Camp Station, a known problem, barriers drop and passengers cannot cross the line to catch the train.

Today the  barriers dropped five minutes early.

When the 1257 (1255) train to  Guildford pulled in, the barriers did not open immediately.

The guard could see passengers waiting to cross the line, with at least one person waving to indicate they wished to catch the train.

As passengers crossed the line, hurried to catch the train, the guard signalled for the train to leave and waved and smiled at the stranded passengers.

Maybe he thought it a sick joke, to pull away deliberately leaving passengers stranded.

His action cost one passenger at least £20 in taxi fares to get to Guildford. She was starting a new job and could not afford to be late and lose her job.

This guard should be fired.

1334 (1332) train from North Camp, guard never came through the train to collect fares. This necessitated further delay at Guildford queuing to buy a  return ticket. The ticket office at North Camp was closed.

Train companies complain of fare dodging, but make no attempt to actually collect fares from passengers who wish to pay.

The display on the platform was indicating trains running two minutes earlier than shown on the timetable. There was no poster or other information to indicate there was an amended timetable in operation.

Dysfunctional SouthWestTrains to Waterloo

November 22, 2015

overcrowded SouthWestTrains

overcrowded SouthWestTrains

Disgraceful train service by SouthWestTrains to Waterloo.

Midday: Only one man manning the ticket office, long queue, train five minutes late, only five coaches, passengers packed in like sardines, standing room only, by the time train leaves running ten minutes late, arrival at Waterloo over ten minutes late.

Service from Waterloo no better.

Late night: Yet another overcrowded train, again only five coaches. Leaves on time, then runs slower and slower, now ten minutes late.

I had ten minutes to catch a bus. Luckily I caught it, as running late.

Time to re-nationalise the rail network.

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