Thursday, 5 January 2012

5 January 2012. Letter 72

Dear Mark and Sue

Re: 08.06 FGW service from Oxford to Paddington, 5/1/12. Amount of my day wasted: seven minutes.

Hey Mark and Sue! Don’t make it bad! Take a sad train, and make it run better! Remember! To doo-da-dum-di-da-doo, rinky-dink-doo, to make it better…

Ah, Mark! The inspiring words of Paul McCartney! Macca! Fab Macca Thumbs Aloft, as Smash Hits used to have it. What a guy! What hair! Give him a ukulele and an industrial-sized vat of Just for Men and he’ll go on for ever! Second best lyricist in the Beatles, was Macca. (After Ringo. Have you heard the words to Octupus’s Garden? A-maze, as the girls in the office like to say. Oh! Em! Gee! George is third, of course – mostly for Here Comes the Sun. Which leaves sad John bringing up the rear. Poor old John. Never could get his tongue round a diphthong.)

Where was I? Oh yes! The inspiring words of Fab Macca! He knew a thing or two about trains, did Macca! Probably. Possibly. Perhaps. Actually, I’ve no idea if he knew a thing or two about trains or not. But you know what? I suspect that even if he didn’t know a thing or two about trains, he would at least have known enough to grasp the concept of the importance of running the things on time. Of sticking to the timetable. Of not charging more and more for a declining service.

Old Macca may not have been the world’s foremost economist (third best economist in the Beatles) or the planet’s premier locomotive historian (second best locomotive historian in the Beatles) – but even he would have grasped the basic fundamentals of what running a train franchise should be about.

Don’t you think, Mark? What about you, Sue? What’s the official line from the First Great Western Communications Hub on the influence of the Fab Four on customer service and efficient train management? I’d love to know!

Anyway. My rather long introduction to this letter (hello, by the way! How are you?) serves only to delay the inevitable point of the exercise. Mark, Sue: I write to you today on the occasion of my 72nd delay since the end of June last year. My train, meine kleine knockwursts, was slow this morning. It was held up, or held back.

It was tardy, it was overdue. It dawdled and dilly-dallied, dragged and lagged. It was late, Mark. It was not on time, Sue. It was – what’s the word? (Don’t you hate it when you can’t think of the word, Sue! There’s a word for that, isn’t there? For when you can’t think of the word? What is that word!)

Delayed! It was delayed! My train today was delayed! And so, like sand through the hourglass, do the minutes of my life fall away as I gaze out of the window at the world happening without me and wonder about all that might have happened to me in the 17 hours (and counting) you’ve taken from me since the end of June last year.

What was the reason today, Mark? Was it Network Rail’s fault again? Was it your fault again? Have you not had a chance to spend all this extra money we’re giving you for the same tickets, for the same awful service, on improving your service?

That is what you’re going to spend it on, right Mark? All this extra money, I mean. You are going to spend it on making the service better? You’re not going to spend it on (whisper it) yourselves or anything, are you?

We won’t be expecting any reports of increased profits for First Great Western any time soon, will we? You can confirm that you won’t be using my money to fatten up you and your fellow executives’ wallets, right?

Good! Great! Well done! I can’t wait for things to start to get better, Mark! Really I can’t!

All together now! Naaaaa na-na, na-na-na-naaa, na-na-na-naaa, hey Mark and Sue…

Au revoir!


1 comment:

  1. Well, I've just spent an enthralling fifteen minutes perusing the FGW Careers website. You should try it, it's instructive -

    The first, and slightly worrying thing to note is the distinction between train/bus driver and QUALIFIED train/bus driver. The second interesting thing is that it is a contractual requirement of being a train driver to be "punctual". I wonder if Mark Hopwood's contract includes anyhting about punctuality? The final thing that caught my eye are the jobs for Route Performance Manager, Business Improvement Manager, and Business Improvement Analyst. Perhaps FGW are spending their extra fare income on these posts? Though of course if it's all Network Rail's fault why would you need to emplot Route Performance and Business Improvement Managers?!