So I don’t know if any of you are aware but a recent set of statistics was released on the performance of everyone’s favourite train franchise Northern Rail (Fail) showed only 45% of trains actually arrived on time, and on the Leeds to Harrogate light that figure was 0%!!!
So recently I have taken it upon myself to tweet Northern Rail (@northernassist) every time we either get a late, short formed, or dangerously overcrowded service. I may also have been a bit sarcastic towards their ‘higher up’s’ and salaries paid for abject failure.
In the end I guess those who operate the twitter feed got fed up of my sarcasm as I have now been blocked from their Twitter feed!!! Its like a toddler who is being told off by their parents so stick their fingers in their ears!!
The simple facts are this Northern have a cut and paste system when it comes to responding to their customers the people who pay overpriced fares to ride a substandard service (and there will be an extra 2.5% added to fares in the new year as well).
Almost every twitter response I have read from Northern contains the same stuff (note a few examples below)
- If your service was over 15 minutes late you can claim compensation
- If you wish to complain please follow the link
- There is no upper limit to what our carriages can hold and this is at the discretion of our conductors and drivers
Add this to the excuses that get posted on service boards on stations throughout the network and it gives you a bit of an idea, just a snippet into how bad this service really is!
- Delayed or Cancelled due to a lack of train drivers
- Faults on the brand new trains
- Due to the service in front being cancelled
- Leaves on the line
- A member of train crew not being available
- Short formed due to a lack of carriages (my personal favourite)
Now allow me to take some of these excuses in turn as an illustration:
I have heard tales of the compensation being something ludicrous like 32p being awarded and makes me ask what was the point? I actually think this is rather the point Arriva (who are the parent of Northern) don’t want you claim so offer paltry sums so you don’t bother next time. Please keep bothering as they have to process it and it adds a little inconvenience to them.
Following the link… Now I have complained on many occasions and have experienced some complaints being ignored and the other ones having a cut and paste response sent back to me that I could almost recite word for word now. Again though I encourage you to continue to complain as these statistics have to be published and the more we have the worse the statistics look for them.
No Upper Limit to How Many Passengers their Carriages can Carry (Train Crews Discretion)
I would argue this is my personal favourite as we get shoved into the carriages like cattle and when the doors open you are literally falling out of the carriages. People are being pushed up against each other in really uncomfortable positions barely able to move. If those trains (god forbid) ever crash the death toll could be catastrophic, but remember people no upper limit!! I have seen children having to stand! Small children being squished by much larger people for the sake of letting a few more people on! I cannot understand how removed from reality these executives must be to go along with this and I honestly believe that it is only a matter of time before there are injuries to be had on Northern’s overcrowded services. Even if the government do not provide any guidance on an ‘upper limit’ surely common sense should prevail here (oh wait we are talking about Arriva here).
Lack of Train Drivers
Now this one is two fold. The first part is that a lot of drivers have been taken out to train on the new Spanish built trains they have! Now Northern have promised these trains almost since day 1 of taking on the franchise, I accept their were delays in the delivery of the new trains, but surely (once again)common sense should have prevailed and drivers should have been trained well before the implementation of the new trains. I would have thought this was just good business practice, something that Arriva seem not to have unless it relates to profit!!
The other revolutionary idea I would like to propose is use some of your ill gotten profits to pay for more drivers rather than giving bonuses to Mr Brown and company for their latest luxury villa or car!!
Faults on New Trains
Now once again I may be being cynical here but to me if you are buying a product as expensive as a new train surely you would have wanted to have them tested first? Not an earth shattering idea I know but one that Arriva didn’t seem to agree with as there have been numerous instances of faults on these ‘new and improved’ trains causing yet more delays to the network.
Leaves on the Line
Now granted this is also the fault of Network Rail the government owed subsidiary that maintains the trains, but in this country we have 4 seasons that means autumn happens EVERY year!!!
Now with leaf fall also being seasonal it should come as no surprise when it happens EVERY year!!! To me a way forward could be maybe having some sort of contingency plan for leaf fall to go into action every autumn a deal with the inevitable.
Short Formed Due to Various Reasons
The biggest issues for the long suffering commuter not having enough carriages to accommodate all commuters on the platform.
Now Arriva have had the Northern franchise for a few years now so are well aware of the numbers of commuters they have using their franchise.
In the beginning people could kind of understand the excuse of them having to deal with historic stock, but now most people would expect by now that they are able to deal with the demands of the service.
I have personally seen it get very nasty on platforms in both a morning and night when people cannot physically get on services due to overcrowding.
Your heart sinks every time you see a 2 car service arriving in place of a 3 car service, and knowing you will either be squished up against another commuter or left stranded on the platform. When their is only one train an hour from that station it makes a mockery of having it open in the first place.
In the end MR. Brown and the board at Northern, and also the board of Arriva either cannot comprehend or more likely just care the misery they are placing on commuters on a daily basis.
How they effect a persons work life balance, and may in the end start costing people jobs due to a lack of punctuality entirely out of their control.
Then when people protest the appalling service on platforms such as Twitter they get blocked from posting!! Truth hurt much?
I would appeal to whomever is in charge of the country after the 12th December to do something about this mess. It is unacceptable to put prices up year on year and then expect people to deal with a service like the one we have already. Paying us lip service and then doing nothing only serves to show how not thought of the north of this country is.
I would also ask Chief executives and politicians alike how much is enough? How much money are you going to take from us with absolutely nothing in return?
If you are literally rolling in money as most executives and politicians are why do you need more? Could you not redirect some back into the service that is provided?
Food for thought at least.
As always my opinions are my own are thank you for reading.