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Northern Fail day 2

December 3rd, 2010 tj 1 comment
For the second day in a row your ‘service’ has been so awful that I am moved to complain.  A copy of my original complaint is appended to the end of this email.
 
This morning I became aware that the 8.07 from Mossley to Manchester Victoria had been cancelled.  Luckily I hadn’t left my house yet.  So I set off later with the intent of catching the 8.27 instead.  When that train finally arrived at around 8.35 it was only two coaches long and was already full, meaning no one could get on at Mossley.  The advice from the guard was that he had been told that as there is apparently a bus service from Mossley to Manchester the service was not a priority.  I then had to wait in sub zero temperatures until the 8.55 train arrived (on time, a miracle in itself).
 
Quite frankly I am appalled at the contempt with which you treat your paying customers.  I do not pay £80 a month to be to be inconvenienced by you and then told to spend my money elsewhere on an inadequate replacement.  For what it’s worth, a few commuters seemingly did try and get a bus but the bus was too small and the driver said the route is so long and slow that it would make more sense to wait for the next train.
Do you really think that this is an acceptable service?  Do you honestly believe that I am getting value for money?  Because I don’t.  Yet no doubt I will be forced to pay increased costs as of January.  I am surprised that you have the bare faced cheek to have still been checking tickets at Victoria both yesterday and this morning.
 
I have not been using this route long but speaking to other commuters who have, these problems are not uncommon.  However, in the relatively short time I have been using the route I have regularly had to contend with overcrowded and late running trains.
 
Ask yourselves this question.. would you put up with this kind of ‘service’ if it was affecting you?  Unfortunately I have no other option.  Do you think that this ‘service’ is acceptable and worth £80 a month?  Would you pay £80 a month for overcrowded trains that you mighit not even be able to get on?
 
Even your turn around on complaints leaves a lot to be desired.  Four weeks?  How can you say that this is reasonable?  Or are you so swamped with complaints about your non-existent service that this is as quick a turnaround as you can manage?
 
Regards,
 
John Hyde
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Northern Rail, or should that be Northern Fail?

December 2nd, 2010 tj 5 comments

Yep, you guessed it! One of my famous complaint letters coming up!

Dear Sirs,

Now that my fingers have thawed out sufficiently I find myself having to write to you to complain about the ‘service’ you offered commuters at Mossley Station this morning (2nd December 2010). I’m probably not the first person you’ve heard from this morning, and I’m certain I won’t be the last.

I arrived at the station at around 8am, planning to catch the 0807 to Manchester Victoria. As 8.07 approached the screen updated to say the train was expected to arrive at Mossley at 8.08; I wasn’t too perturbed by this as late arrivals are quite common.

However, when the train did arrive it was standing room only in the front 2 carriages (of a 4 carriage train). The rear two carriages were completely empty. As many people as possible crammed themselves onto the front two carriages but there were at least 30 people, myself included, who could not fit on the train. When we asked the guard (whose head appeared out of a window in the rear 2 carriages) to open the carriages to let us on he said he could not do it. Apparently it was down to that bane of modern life… health and safety reasons, The platform at Mossley is apparently too short, even though the train seemed to fit just fine. I assume a full risk assessment has been carried out?

The next few minutes descended into farce, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. People, understandably frustrated by proceedings, were blocking doors and pleading with the guard to show some common sense. Unfortunately common sense seems to be a rare commodity on today’s railways. The guard threatened to involve the police, but this didn’t deter the commuters. Why would it? They had nothing to lose. Eventually the protesters had to concede defeat and let the train depart.

Thankfully the next train, the 8.27, was relatively empty and I was able to stand uncomfortably all the way into Victoria.

I wonder if you could explain why this happened? Why was common sense not allowed to prevail? There are at least three possible ways to combat this happening.

1. Why could the guard not stand in the supposedly ‘unsafe’ door to stop people using it?  The train wasn’t so long that the entire rear coach was beyond the platform. In fact, it looked safe enough to board to me. Had the guard just stopped people from using the ‘unsafe’ door then passengers would have easily been able to board using the other doors.

2. Why could the front coaches be closed to enable the train to move forward by a few feet and enable the rear doors to be opened safely? Again, this is pure common sense. It would be safer than the first suggestion and all it would take would be a few minutes. I guess you wouldn’t want to do this as it might make your trains (even) late(r).

3. Why not extend the platform at Mossley to accommodate 4 coach trains?  Wishful thinking, I know. And I already know the answer if I’m honest. As a monopoly you would rather bleed your customers dry with yearly price increases (without any noticeable improvement to the service or facilities) than invest in the infrastructure to provide your customers with a better service.

I look forward to hearing you try and explain your way out of this one. I won’t be letting it drop easily. Nor, I suspect, will any of the other people affected this morning. I would like you to address all points raised in this email, but especially those in bold. If I do not receive a satisfactory response soon I will take this matter further.

Yours faithfully,

John Hyde

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