I hate it, especially as my son died of a smoking related disease and it seems to make my hay fever and breathing worse.
To make matters even worse, my local stop is a changeover point for drivers and sometimes there are half-a-dozen in the shelter puffing away.
With all the tickets, I’ve been buying for my challenge, I’m starting to get strong views about how the system should be improved.
The first thing that is needed is a global account that works for all of the train company sites.
It would be a complete profile and contain.
- All your personal details.
- Your preferred station for picking up tickets.
- Your preferred seating arrangements.
- Your credit card details.
It would of course have all of the tickets you’d ordered in a database, so you could use them for purposes like calculating expenses or rebooking a similar trip on another day.
The site would be run by ATOC and not by a company such as the trainline, which charges you a booking fee and doesn’t always give you the most logical routes.
So let’s say I want to book a London Liverpool train on Virgin similar to one I bought a month ago. I would click the Book Similar link on the previous ticket and this would put me into the Virgin site, showing me the prices I would be charged I would then book as normal, using the global preferences. It would make the process a lot simpler.
User-Defined Pick-Up Passwords
To pick up tickets you need the eight-digit reference number. Recently, I picked up seven tickets, with different reference numbers in one visit to Kings Cross. It was a nightmare, especially as my left-hand isn’t 100%. I do text the reference numbers to my mobile phone, but that only simiplifies it a small amount.
If you could define your own pick-up password, then the process would be much simpler. I might use VG1234 for Virgin, where 1234 is the last four digits of my phone number. This would mean the pick-up is as secure as it is now, but I should also be allowed at my risk to pick up the tickets on a credit card only. I would always use a simple password, I could remember.
Virgin and others can text me details of my trip, but they send too much information and we need more messages.
I would just like the eight-digit reference followed say by Euston-Liverpool Lime Street, as this would then display the reference, when I held up the phone without opening the message, so it would be easier to pick-up the tickets.
But how about these messages.
- An alert if there was any engineering work or delay before the train leaves.
- An alert a specific number of minutes before the train leaves.
- An alert with the platform number. This might clear out the space in front of the departure boards.
- Alerts if the train was going to arrive late.
Whilst travelling from Crewe to Lancaster on Day 21 on the very overcrowded Glasgow train, I came across a very unhappy bunny. She had booked the previous Glasgow train, but had then missed it because of a tube journey that took twenty minutes longer than it should. So to get to Glasgow, she’d had to buy a new ticket at £130 and stand all the way. She was saying she wouldn’t use the train again and would fly next time. But what would have happened if she’d turned up late for her flight?
The trouble is that many expect that when they use a train, they just turn up, buy a ticket at a good price and go. If I’ve bought a cheap ticket, I always make sure I get it, although in a couple of trips, I’ve bought a new ticket to get home early. It has cost me, but I’ve got to bed a couple of hours early.
I have read that a lot of people get to the station early for their trains. The trouble is that most stations don’t cater for those, who do and then have a coffee, buy a paper and have a read. It’s why you get so many people standing in front of the departure boards at stations, blocking the path for those hurrying to get on a train. So as more people travel by train, it just means that stations will get more and more congested.
I do wonder whether this congestion, meant that the unhappy bunny, deliberately delayed until the last minute to avoid the crush.
I’m lucky in that I’m a 30 minute or under bus ride from Liverpool Street, Kings Cross, St. Pancras, London Bridge and Euston, so if I watch the buses on-line through the Countdown system, I can usually have a better experience than most. It also means, I can catch the very early morning trains before six in the morning, when everything is less crowded. But if you live more than 30 minutes from the main station and there is no all-night bus, this isn’t possible in London. that it is like in Manchester or Birmingham say, I do not know.
But to return to my unhappy bunny. She was at fault for missing the train. But in her support, getting to stations early, is often not the best experience.