Archive for the ‘South West Trains’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at 13 December 2004

Category: South West Trains

Meet 13yee, who begins his South West Trains diary with a tale of a pretty typical penalty-fare sting.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 30 November 2003

Category: South West Trains

or
What Happens When you Dare Complain

To:
Andrew Haines
Managing Director
South West Trains

From:
Tim Ireland
30th November, 2003

Dear Andrew,

This was going to be a private letter, but it’s become clear to me after your reaction to my complaint of June last year (which was to send a bunch of flowers to the woman whose life your staff so blithely put at risk) and the treatment to which I was subjected early on the morning of Sunday 30th November 2003 that your company deserves a long-overdue public shaming.

Please bear with me…

I arrived at Waterloo Station in good time for the 00:08 express service to Guildford station. That service was not displayed on the boards. The nearest thing to it was a multi-stop service due at 00:10 that was shown as being 30 minutes late.

At 00:00 I enquired, I would think quite reasonably, as to the fate of the 00:08 service. I was informed by Jobsworth No. 1 that what I saw on the board was pretty much what I could expect.

I avoided naming names last time, but this time I am really – and quite justifiably, I would think – pissed off, so I ask you most humbly to suck this and see:

Jobsworth No. 1: Molly Morgan

Given that the timetable advertised a service that you were not publicly acknowledging as a failed, late, or possibly cancelled service, I saw fit to question the current state of affairs. Enter Jobsworth No.2…

Jobsworth No. 2: Tim Reilly

We’ll hear more from Tim soon, because he’s a plucky young lad, able to hold a man’s gaze, but not above abusing his position of authority in order to stifle valid complaints. Initially, all you need to know is that he intervened at this stage and informed me that The Way Things Were were The Way Things Were.

Andrew, you should know by now that I’m an idealistic chap, prone to impromptu shows of rebellion. The first thing I did as a result was to head to the information boards on the far side of the concourse and inform those staring hopefully at these boards that there was a whole service that had been cancelled without their knowledge, and that they should make a complaint regarding this.

Misguided? Perhaps. Satisfying? Definitely.

By now, it was 00:15. and another service – the 00:23 to Guildford via Clapham Junction, Woking and Worpleston – was long overdue for display.

I went back to the ‘information’ desk and enquired as the fate of this particular service.

I received little in the way of information, or satisfaction, and became quite agitated – especially when Jobsworth No. 3 informed me that this service was ’30 minutes delayed’, but they still saw no reason to advertise this fact on the boards.

Jobsworth No. 3: Rob Boorwell

You know as well as I do that – kept from the information that shows a failure of service – many people will be unable to make a complaint regarding that service. 13 information screens stood empty at ths point (save for a Waterloo Station logo). There was plenty of room to show such a failure, but only one person was complaining about it. Me.

I was soon to find out why, as jobsworth Tim Reilly really came into play. I was informed that my tone was abusive and that the police had been called. I held my ground and enquired in unreasonably reasonable tones exactly what had become of the 00:08 and 00:23 services.

Jobsworth No. 1: Molly Morgan (manning the ‘information’ desk)
“All I can tell you is what you see on the boards.”

Jobsworth No. 2: Tim Reilly (standing not 3 feet from the ‘information’ desk)
“I’m sorry, but you’ll have to ask at the information desk.”

My immediate reaction was to turn to waiting commuters and point out what they could expect if they dared to complain. In fact, I even dared to point out what was at stake and why your staff hoped they would not complain.

When faced with multiple layers of bullshit, I tell it like it is. You know this.

Result? Some hopeful faces, but no action; they knew what was in store.

By now, I also had some drunken RWCs (right wing cunts) getting seriously In My Face for daring to question authority. No effort was made to control these individuals. In fact, the smug look on jobsworth Tim Reilly’s face seemed impossible to shift.

Enter the police…

God bless the London Met. So intent on their duty, they ignored each and every aspect of my quite valid complaint and informed me that South West Trains was – as a result of my ‘abusive’ behaviour – refusing to carry me as a passenger. I was to be escorted from the concourse.

They’re ripping us off blind!
“Not my problem…”

You’re leaving me stranded in London with no way to get home!
“That, sir, is *your* problem.. off we go.”

(Hand on elbow; to make any move from this point on is to Resist and get thrown in clink on a technicality. Smile on jobsworth Tim Reilly’s face defies polite description..)

And so I was led from the concourse to resounding jeers. I was informed by the police that these jeers clearly showed my lack of popularity, but….

The clever clogs did not account on me making my way via the Underground, back onto the platform to the now very late 00:10 multi-stop service (which, in the end, terminated at Walton-On-Thames and had to be completed by bus).

On that trip, I met:

The dozen or so people who congratulated me on my courage but failed to speak up themselves for fear of similar ‘complain and you will not travel’ treatment.

The gentleman who informed me of the Guildford service that left at 11:50, made up of 4 carriages (from the 12 that were available) that was so hopelessly overcrowded that many gave up on it.

The few RWCs – one in particular – who gladly took the time to inform the driver of my unauthorised – albeit fully paid for – presence on board. (Happily, I had made the devilishly clever move of removing my jacket, thereby rendering me invisible to the waiting authorities at Clapham Junction and Wimbledon. If you got burgled or mugged in these areas on this night, it was because police were called away to incarcerate The Man Who Dared To Complain. I do apologise.)

Andrew, I appreciate that you’re an honourable man in a difficult situation, but in this case I’m sure you’ll pardon me for saying Fuck You & The Horse You Rode In On.

There is one reason and one reason only why I choose not to work in London. That reason is South West Trains.

It’s obvious to me after this experience that the main priority in too many employees’ minds is to protect this failing system – and/or their jobs – at all costs. In fact, the few small actions I took following our disagreement last year led to many staff fearing my camera (and hating my guts) but not changing their ways.

(Do you remember the charming sign that greeted customers who approached the staff room at Guildford? And how after I took a photo of that and sent it to you, it was removed? Well, following that minor event and the major one that preceded it, I found that I was being carefully watched by staff and so didn’t need to send anything to you to have an effect. I took a photo of misspelled sign; it was immediately removed. I took a photo of shit on the tracks; this area and this area alone was immediately hosed down. This was fun while it lasted, but it did little good in the end.)

You and I, we have serious issues mostly buried in the past, but I hold your company directly responsible not only for undue stress, but well over 700 man-hours that were lost due to SWT’s inability to provide the service promised to this one small commuter.

Others may not dare to complain (and I’m pretty sure by now that we all know why) but – though I may not be reliant on this service at present – I find it very difficult to understand why I shouldn’t be addressing this as a significant ‘in my backyard’ priority.

You don’t want this; I don’t need it – but the problem obviously needs to be addressed.

I got 21st-century on your ass last time, and is didn’t make a lick of difference. What is it going to take to make you realise that this one commuter out of a thousand can – and will – make a difference if necessary?

[ENDS]

What do you think? Was I too aggressive in the face of simple diversionary tactics, or do I have a justifiable problem with South West Trains and the way they treat people? Send me an email or get in touch with Andrew Haines via customerrelations@swtrains.co.uk and do what a lot of people didn’t this morning because they did not dare – speak your mind.

UPDATES & FEEDBACK
1st December 2003

Wibbler was on the scene, and had this to say:

“Good lord, Tim, you were on the train after me!

“My girlfriend and I arrived at the platform at 10.40pm. The Train Entering Platform 8 was an obligatory 15 minutes late, and this strangely worked in our favour. We rushed to the platform, to be met by a very substandard train, due to stop at Clapham Junction, Surbiton and Guildford, which was plainly a replacement. To make matters worse, if you wanted to get further than Guildford (which we instantly abandoned), the remaining journey had to be competed by a rickety old bus. God help the poor 90 year old couple hoping to get to Liphook before sunrise.

“We were then informed that the driver was still to be found. He was still nowhere to be found 15 minutes later, but eventually he was located. It was then that 4 Drunken Fools decided to board (drunken fools who were plainly less of a problem than you supposedly were). They proceeded to discuss, exceedingly loudly and between gulps of recently-bought champagne, the nights events, and life in general. This included the “fucking temperature”, the “fucking bottle”, the “shit weather” and references to a neighbouring travellers’ grandmother that I dare not repeat. Other topics included differing tastes of semen, their musical favourites (with long, loud demonstrations of each song) and where the “fucking toilets” were. The journey seemed long. We supposed this was because of the Drunken Fools, but it was, as we were later told, because of the engineering “works”. I use the term “works” lightly – indeed as we passed one such engineering location, I noted all 5 of the workers sitting down on barrels, sipping their tea and looking at magazines (the content of these can only be imagined).

“So, we arrived one hour late, in the freezing cold of the winter night. The police, although informed of the Drunken Fools, did diddly about them. Oh, and the driver forgot to stop at Surbiton. You can imagine the words coming out of the Surbitonians on the train as the alighted in Guildford at midnight, many miles from home, with no visible means of getting there.”

James was at the same party as I was that night. He’s provided some quite reasonable points about giving feedback to staff members. He’s right on many points, but – well, I’ll let you read his email first…

“Sorry but I think you were too aggressive in your actions described in your letter. I am a frequent complainer and I have worked in customer services so I have a fair idea of what does and doesn’t work.

“Raising your voice, swearing or using aggressive body language is not going to succeed. For a complaint to be handled quickly and effectively you have to make the person you are dealing with want to help you. By attacking them, their colleagues or whatever you are just going to put them on the defensive and make them want to get a victory over you by not being helpful.

“I know it shouldn’t be this way but it is, and it is extremely rare for someone to change their mind by aggressively pointing out that they are wrong.

“People who work in customer services, especially those who work with the public late at night, are frequently exposed to abuse, assault and all manner of downright evil behaviour from the public. Although I’m sure you were not being abusive (at least not at first) this is the behaviour they expect and when approaching the CS rep, you have to immediately show that this is not what you are about. Complaining calmly and reasonably – in a non-personal manner will be much more successful than insults and swearing.

“Unfortunately the same goes for the letter. The swearing, personal tone and general ‘Ranting’ nature of the text will make it much likely that whoever deals with the letter (and you can be pretty sure it will not be Andrew Haines – at least not at first) will mentally file it in the ‘Nutter’ category and be as obstructive as possible when dealing with your complaint.

“I appreciate that keeping your cool can be difficult when faced with the monstrous lack of helpfulness you experienced but calm, reasoned complaint will get you so much further than having a good shout. Although having a rant can be immediately very satisfying I personally find that it is worth swallowing a little pride and anger to get the result I want.

“Sorry if this comes across as a bit preachy but you did ask for feedback. This is all of course just the way I would approach things and YMMV!”

Not at all preachy, and all points that needs to be raised for a reader of this article that doesn’t know:
1. SWT and I have a long history. I’ve been down the ‘reasonable’ path and have seen little improvement to the service as a result.
2. Me being loud isn’t necessarily directed at staff. Often (and, admittedly, this does annoy the staff) it’s me addressing people on the concourse and explaining to them that (a) they’re being robbed and (b) they don’t have to sit there and take it.
3. The email I sent went directly to Andrew Haines, as we’ve had correspondence in the past. I published the general feedback address on my website and not his personal one as a courtesy. I can be downright nice when I want to be.

And now, a word or two from Seamus:

“go for it.. they say we’re a nation of whingers, may as well prove em right.. i followed your bush hunt and saw what complaining can do.. usually best to get a few people on your side first.. that’s something RWCs do understand..

“being a scruffy bastard i know what it’s like to have a genuine grievance dismissed cos you’re alone.. your opponent can easily point you out as if ‘he’s not one
of us..’ But a few seemingly normal folks together presents them a real challenge..

“so keep complaining.. i’d do it myself but there’s too much to go on about.. and i’ll keep reading”

Seamus is spot on. The system SWT has in place to deal with complaints doesn’t make it clear to the public how badly the situation has deteriorated. I’m sure that if this was clear, people would feel less alone and would therefore be more likely to voice their dissatisfaction with the service. A page that clearly explains how you can (and why you should) complain to South West Trains seems to be in order – as does a public forum for those that wish to express frustration over complaints that have not been addressed to their complete satisfaction. (Oooh, look what I just found over at Annies’ blog, along with this post of support… the Evening Standard gets busy with a serious transport protest portal! It’d be nice to have a special one for SWT, though… something that turns up every time people search for ‘south west trains’ in Google would be especially useful.)

Why is this important? Well, if you fail to complain, sooner or later you lose the right to complain. I’m not saying that we’ll see rubber bullets being used at Waterloo Station anytime soon, but ExpatEgghead notes:

“I admire your restraint. I wish more people were like you. Here in Israel, when people got pissed of at the unemployment office being closed for weeks, the security guard used tear gas.”

FINAL UPDATE

So what did I do after being pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed? I did this:

South West Trains – How To Complain

Come and join us, do.

:o)








Posted by Tim Ireland at 12 June 2002

Category: South West Trains

This is going to be a very strange blog today, and I apologise for that, but after putting up with years of bullshit from South West Trains, and after what happened last night, I really feel that I must speak out.

It began, as most of my travel adventures have in the past, at Waterloo Station. I arrived in plenty of time to catch the 9:20 but, sadly, it had been announced on the boards as being ‘expected at 9:45’.

A multitude of passengers waited, staring hopefully at the electronic board.

About 20 minutes later, as a seasoned passenger of SWT, I asked why a number of platforms had been confirmed ahead of ours, when our train was listed as due (at 9:45, but the time had been and gone without advice).

“Well, as late as it is, it is confirmed for Platform 9″ came the quiet response from the man manning the ‘information’ desk, “But of course, I can’t confirm that…”

This triggered something inside me. Nothing big, but enough to make me do what an Australian will do ahead of a typical Englishman. No, I didn’t whinge selfishly; I simply spoke up in a loud voice to the majority who were waiting for the same train (and staring hopefully, if you remember, at the electronic board).

“This” I intoned, with as much senatorial control as I could muster, “is typical of how bad this situation is!

“The train is now over half an hour late – and nobody is complaining! And do you know what? Everybody here is hoping that you won’t complain!”

I went on to give a very loud, and I would think quite lucid, account of why privatisation of public transport doesn’t work. A local drunk helpfully chipped in by adding “England!!! England!!”, which pleased the SWT Trains bods no end. It gave them the perfect excuse to pack up and leave.

Yes, they actually lifted the entire information desk and shuffled away with it. I shit you not.

But this (my faithful friends who are actually reading the entirety of this text) is just the beginning. The rot goes much deeper than this, as you’re soon about to find out…

The platform was announced, finally, as Platform 9. I had to shake the drunk off my shoe to get there, but get there I did.

I arrived just in time to see our train – formed of the front four coaches only – arriving. The multitude or former electronic board watchers herded onto this train.

The only SWT staff member who was semi-helpful on this journey pointed out that the subsequent express (also running late) was arriving on the opposite side of the platform.

Not surprisingly, I opted for this eight-carriage train instead of the other (which by now was already standing-room only)..

The journey was uneventful.

I did, however, arrive at my destination a mere minute after my connecting bus – the final service for the night – had left.

I headed straight for the Station Manager’s office and pointed out that it was due to South West Trains’ failure to provide the scheduled service as promised that I was now facing a 3 mile walk home in the rain.

Here’s where the fun begins…

All I wanted was a cab. A simple service, and provided for under the meagre charter that allows for delays over an hour or more. A cost of six quid, to be precise.

He informed me that he was not responsible for buses.

I informed him that he was responsible for trains, and from about then on, he ignored me.

The discussion collapsed irretrievably when he shut the office door in my face.

So, here I was with an unexpected cab fare home that I couldn’t pay for (due to an un-cleared cheque that is a matter for later blog-whinges regarding banks and their archaic ‘7 day clearance’ system in this modern age of instant email and what-not) and a corporation that, rightfully, owed me at least a single fare refund. This single fare refund amounted to pretty much the cost of my cab fare (if you remember, about 6 quid) so, as it was raining quite heavily, I tried to reason with him as a human being.

Big mistake.

Mr Tiddles, as the Station Manager shall be known from this point forward, took great offence at the suggestion that he should be called to authorise such an extravagant expenditure.

His solution was to call ‘the police’.

Now, when an SWT stationmaster calls the police on you, there’s something you should be aware of. When he refers to ‘ the police’, he is, in fact, referring to the Transport Police.

Here’s where it gets even more interesting…

This ‘policeman’ turned up, as if by magic, at about the time when I felt compelled to stage an impromptu sit-in by blocking the doors of (yet another) late train.

I even drew up a sign, being the stubborn little fucker I can be forced to be occasionally, reading:

THIS IS AN OFFICIAL PROTEST

SOUTH WEST TRAINS DID NOT PROVIDE ME WITH THE SERVICE THAT WAS PROMISED AND WILL NOT HEAR MY COMPLAINT

This ‘policeman’ turned up as yet another drunk turned up to take my side. Perhaps God sends these people but, God – if you’re listening – I can do without it.

Ho hum.

Anyways, I stood well clear as the ‘policeman’ cleared this chap from our lives, as in his current state he was no more than an unwelcome distraction.

So, here I am, waiting patiently for the ‘policeman’ to address me.

I explained the situation in some detail, and here – critically – time gets fuzzy.

What it all boiled down to, after roughly thirty minutes of discussion, was that he insisted that he was “merely a keeper of the Queen’s peace”.

Please remember this, as there will be a test later…

At the close of our long, long discussion (during which, I was constantly worried that he had better things to do) I pointed out that the Station Manager held the solution to the problem – not me – and not me – had best take it up with him.

I was certainly not going to endure an hour’s walk home in the pouring rain because SWT had fucked up, and if the Queen’s peace was at stake, then the only resolution lay in the hands of the Station Manager because I was in the right and, subsequently, an immovable object.

It was about this time he pointed out that, as a member of the Transport Police, he was – in effect – employed by South West Trains as part of their security force.

This is the bit where I failed to absorb important information. I take full responsibility for that. I was thrown off by the fact that he had a radio, black uniform and bobby hat like What Those On The Bill wear.

Stupid.

Stupid.

Stupid.

He went off to ‘meet’ with the manager in what looked to be a small office on the far end of the station. I waited 5 minutes, 10, then close to 20…

Then a woman in her late 30’s turned up. She was quite distressed, because a late train had resulted in her missing the last bus (sound familiar?).

I was a prick.

I was so intent on using her to support my cause, that I didn’t see the full scope of her problem.

I asked her to stay where she was while I tracked down the officer from the Transport Police and/or the Station Manager.

I went to the small office they appeared to have disappeared into, knocked politely, and announced: “I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I have someone here with exactly the same problem as I have. You may as well deal with both of us.”

No answer.

The woman was getting more and more agitated, so I headed back towards her.

She informed me that she now she had a lift, but she would hang around for ‘a few minutes’ while I tried to sort this out.

I went back and knocked at the door again, but as I looked back, I noticed something particularly strange about the manner of the man who was obviously her promised lift. It’s hard to describe, but he seemed a little too insistent, if you know what I mean. When he saw me looking, he backed off again.

Suddenly, my priorities had (finally) changed. I walked across to the woman, and ensured her she would be able to get a cab. Even though I couldn’t afford it, the last thing I wanted to do was let her go off with this man. She seemed so desperate to get home, but I was looking less and less like a sure bet as the station staff ignored me and/or disappeared into the woodwork as I asked about the whereabouts of the Station Manager.

In the end, she opted to go with the stranger. I did not feel comfortable about this at all. If he’d stepped forward at any time I might have been OK about it, but he seemed so intent on orbiting this distressed woman until she was alone that he made me very suspicious.

I looked toward the small office once more, but she had gone. I chased after her. The stranger was ushering her toward the road near the station.

Say what you like about my paranoia, but by now all sorts of alarm bells were ringing in my head. It didn’t seem right at all.

I ran back into the station (about 12 steps, not a big run) and pointed out what was happening and the possible – if unlikely – ramifications. The staff, bolstered as they were by my status as a troublemaker, ignored me.

I was dumbfounded.

I asked the eight men present (that’s eight of the fuckers) if they were going to let this woman walk away with a stranger.

“Not our problem” said the fat bastard who claimed to be ‘just a cleaner’ (who from now on shall be known as the ‘Fat Bastard Cleaner’).

Of course, at this time, I still had a vague notion that there was a real policeman somewhere nearby – so I this time I *hammered* at the door the member of the Transport Police and Station Manager had seemingly disappeared into.

No answer.

I rushed back out to the front door just in time to see the woman being rushed/ushered out of sight.

Yes, I will admit at this stage that consensual sex between two strangers happens from time to time, but this woman hadn’t been out clubbing all night – she’d just arrived on a train from work. And the surreptitious way in which this woman was spirited from the station made me feel very, very uncomfortable.

So uncomfortable, in fact, that I felt compelled to call 999.

Too far away to give chase (after being under the illusion for so long that a police officer was in attendance) I did so.

It was quite reassuring, after all of the negative and/or ‘who gives a damn’ attitude I had experienced on the platform to hear someone on the other end of the line who actually responded with a reasonable amount of care.

Real policemen were on the way, and by the time I had made it back to the platform it had finally sunk in that Mr Tiddles the Station Manager and the officer of the Transport Police had (instead of making their way into an office) actually disappeared from the station via a nearby set of doors.

I informed the remaining staff of my concerns and told them that police were on the way. Much hilarity ensued. I pressured them again and again as a concerned commuter to reveal the whereabouts of the Station Manager. Hell, I even tried to appeal to them as fellow human beings.

Again, a big mistake.

Fat Bastard Cleaner threatened me with physical violence at least twice. Another gangly git from the security team (hereby known as ‘The Gangly Git From Security’) not only refused to give his name, but even the name of the company he worked for.

“Right,” I said, “Let’s ignore the last hour or so. As a concerned commuter, I want to contact the Station Manager, and I want to do so now.”

The Gangly Git From Security responded with; “Nobody orders me around, mate!”

No help from staff, no management in sight, and no police. Yet.

In desperation, I picked up the same phone Mr Tiddles had used to call the Transport Police. I figured anything was better than nothing. I informed them of the situation, they informed me there was nothing that they could do. Hooray!

So I asked about the previous call-out to get the real name of the ‘policeman’ who had attended the original call (he had reluctantly given his name as ‘White’ or ‘Whyce’ before swiftly changing the subject).

They informed me that no such call-out was made. I asked them to widen their time-frame and/or check if there were officers on duty at the time. After a muffled pause, they claimed to have no record.

The real police arrived at this time, and were Perfectly Reasonable. They listened to what I had to say, and did their best to take action.

They interviewed me, and the staff that were present. Acknowledging the possible gravity of this situation, they requested access to CCTV footage.

Miraculously, Mr Tiddles turned up about 5 minutes after this formal request. He gave his version of the story – at least, the bits he was there for – and was quick to point out that I had wrongly claimed a refund because my train was only 13 minutes late. (If you remember, I had caught the alternative train – so technically he was correct. Score one for Mr Tiddles.)

Mr Tiddles wisely gestured Fat Bastard Cleaner away, but The Gangly Git From Security had already mouthed off once, and was determined to do so again. I’ll leave his description of me to your imagination. You know enough swear words already.

So why all this fuss? What’s my problem?

My problem is that, at the end of the day, these goddamn jobsworths were so intent on protecting themselves and defeating one problematic commuter that they ignored what may have been a much larger problem.

I’m praying it wasn’t.

I also have a slight problem with the fact that South West Trains have their own goddamn Gestapo who obviously act in the company’s interest whilst strutting about in a policeman’s uniform that amounts to little more than a stage costume.

But then, that’s just me…

UPDATE – She’s OK folks! I’d given the woman in question one of my business cards when we first met, and she got in touch. She was most appreciative of the effort I made and the concern I showed, and described as ‘the only gentleman on the platform’.

Guess what? The guy who offered to get her home didn’t have a car. He did, however, offer to walk her through Guildford. It was when he then wanted to go via a dark underpass rather than the High Street that she became fully creeped out and simply walked away from him.

The distance to her home was over 2 miles. It’s at this stage that I should probably mention how old she is. 50.

Charming, isn’t it? Because of the inaction of South West Trains staff, this 50 year old woman was walking through Guildford, alone, about an hour after chucking out time. Happily, she had a key for her mother’s house, which happened to be on the far side of Guildford. She made it there safely, let herself in quietly, and stayed the night.

I gave her the names of the (real) police officers that I spoke to, so by now she would have been in touch to let them know that she is OK and given her account of the incident.

Now all that remains is to make South West Trains answerable for the disgraceful behaviour of their staff. That starts, but doesn’t end, with this web page.

Thanks for your time.

UPDATE II – RB wrote in with a few points:

“I have just had read your SWT article and would like to clarify a couple of points for you (I do not work for SWT, and I do not like SWT services!)… British Transport Police are a special police force who cover the whole of the British Isles and who have different divisions around the country… BTP are NOT security guards for SWT nor any other Train Operating Companies, they are there to keep the peace and to arrest anybody who has committed a criminal offence against railway property.”

Here I should point out that, while the BTP do not work directly for SWT, they are funded fully by the industry, primarily the train operating companies, who contribute 50% (with Railtrack contributing 30% and London Underground 20%). I’m sure you can guess where their priorities lie.

Mr Alex Robertson, the Chairman of the British Transport Police Federation, said the following at their annual conference on 17 April, 2002 (a full transcript is here):

“Turning now to the Force itself, the BTP remains saddled with being funded by the Train Operating Companies. In turn they are driven by commercial priorities in the very difficult market of railway transportation.”

Having a privatised railway system is bad enough, but a privatised police force? It boggles the mind!

FEEDBACK – Many folks have written in with positive feedback. Thanks, everybody. Best quotes are below.

“Today’s entry was actually the best thing I’ve read on your site so far. Don’t get me wrong, I do like your site a lot, but I was very impressed with the way you handled the situation, and the way you expressed yourself. Anger and frustration can be a powerful impetus, both to positive action and to making an interesting read. You did completely the right thing, and more people should have the same sense of civic responsibility.” – Linus

“South West Trains clearly were bang out of order.” – Martin

“Keep the moral high ground, stay calm and aloof…. but above all… get your formal complaint in.” – Paul

“Good for you, I hope you get at least an apology.” – James

“It’s about time this type of thing got some publicity and I hope you have some serious interest from the web community.” – Simon

“What a load of wankers.” – Elizabeth

UPDATE – Oh, you’ll love this… I’ve just been informed by the woman in question that she has finally been contacted by South West Trains… who sent her a bunch of flowers.

SEE ALSO – They never learn. Read about the latest adventure at South West Trains Does It Again.

FINAL UPDATE

So what did I do after being pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed? I did this:

South West Trains – How To Complain

You’re welcome to join. It’s ever so much fun.








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