Tuesday, April 28, 2009

East Midland Trains - an example of the benefits of privatisation!

Last night I went to the National Liberal Club for an ALDE reception. It was a great evening and entertaining given I was seated between two of our esteemed peers, Navnit Dholakia and John Lee. I confess I spent some of the evening making the case for revisiting our Trident policy - but about 10.45 began my journey home. I knew I was pushing it to get the 11.15 East Midlands train back to Luton, but my delight at making it was soon dented by seeing the "DELAYED" signs.

The story was that a train engine was on fire near Luton and there were no trains running. The transport police informed us that we should make other arrangements as there were no coaches. I toyed with the idea of staying over with a pal, but decided against it, given that my "evening" attire was not quite the ticket for the hustings at Brentwood School I was attending in the morning.

I headed over to King's Cross, just in time to jump on a train to Hitchin - thankful that I no longer lived in Bedford when my alternative routes would have had to be Milton Keynes of Sandy. But even going to Hitchin meant a £20 taxi fare home.

However, my irritation faded into insignificance as I travelled into London this morning with my daughter and her friend. Her friend had been on the 8.20 train out of St Pancras last night and they had been stuck for four hours outside Luton! It took that long to turn off the electricity apparently - then the whole train were given glowlights and guided the half hour walk up the track to Luton Airport Parkway. The company included an elderly lady who had to be carried, and many with heavy cases who also had to be helped.

Then this evening I read Duncan Borrowman's blog, who had been stuck coming the opposite way and ended up having to take a taxi all the way home! So two important questions about a company (along with First Capital Connect whose services were also affected) with little on no regard for passengers. Not only do they pay scant regard for the hundreds of stranded commuters, clearly having no contingency in place to get them home, but also they have no contingency in place to deal with passengers stranded on the track. How and why on earth did it take 4 hours to "rescue" stranded passengers?

If ever there was a graphic demonstration of the problem of proxy customers - this is it. Our privatised train companies have a captive audience. We have no other realistic alternative, and they know it - we can't vote with our feet because our feet have no place else to go. I have never travelled on East Midland trains when there has been a problem and found anyone who thinks privatisation was a good idea. Frankly we are all treated like compliant mushrooms. Now I understand there may be an argument that the problem is that privatisation hasn't gone far enough - that may be the case - whatever - the truth is that this half way house serves none of us ........except of course the private rail companies and their shareholders - well, wouldn't you be laughing all the way to the bank with this sort of monopoly?

3 comments:

Duncan Borrowman said...

They are a total disgrace who shouldn't be given a model train set fo look after.

quba said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Patricia

http://lioneltrains.info

quba said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Patricia

http://lioneltrains.info