Monday, August 28, 2006

The return Journey

The continuing tragedy of Virgin Trains (episode 2)

The local train from the station near the camp was fine with plenty of space and luggage room (this was a not a virgin train).

However the Virgin train to Edinburgh was terrible fully booked with seat reservations all the way to Edinburgh and despite my seat reservation I ended up sitting on my bag in the vestibule, there was an elderly man in the seat I had reserved and he needed it more than I did. It should not be possible for all seats to be fully booked and the additional passengers which pay more for valid tickets which work all day have no where to sit. Also neither of my bags would fit in the overhead racks and the small luggage sections were full to the ceiling. There were additional complications caused by an irate passenger (who had also been annoying on the previous train) who complained that she would faint or have an epileptic fit if she could not be provided with a seat. (standing up causes epileptic fits? I think not). She resorted to insulting England and English people. Slightly loopy I am afraid. Oh well.

I asked if it was possible to advise the management of Virgin trains that not allocating all seats through reservation and then having additional passengers but instead reserving a few seats for the additional passengers might prevent repeats of the severity of the problem.

I was told that I could try but that there were “government plans to reduce the number of trains running and so it would only get worse and I should make the most of it”[approximately] this from the manager of the train. (what the government has to do with the decisions by virgin trains of how many trains they run I do not know – though perhaps they could be reducing the amount of subsides paid to Virgin)

Soon afterwards the slightly loopy lady complained that the train manager had been extremely rude to her after the manager had managed to create a seat and persuade her to move and sit in it (the lady did not want to squeeze along the corridor). The lady then proceeded to be rude to surrounding passengers which I later learned caused much hilarity. The train manager was not even in the same carriage when this supposed rudeness occurred. As I was originally writing this the train manager was phoning up to see if a policeman could get on at the next station and remove the lady because she was “upsetting everybody”. I pity the poor employees who have to deal with this.

One of the train crew agreed that ‘it is often like this’.

Train crew and passengers should not be subjected to this for the greed of the higher management.

Oh and the doors do not check whether anyone is between them before they close – lots of slightly squashed people. :)

A policeman came aboard at Carslie to try and remove the loopy lady sensitively she left but the manager was unsure whether she had reboarded but then she saw that the lady was on the station as we were leaving and so someone else will have to deal with her.

The plastic bag the lady left behind was disposed of in the bin, no one wanted to find out what was inside.

All the vestibules I can see are packed with standing people.

But Virgin does have Fair trade sugar. PR I think.

I took them up on there offer of a complementary drink and the orange juice and biscuits distracted me for at least 10 minutes.

At Lockerbie the train got even fuller and I do not think many people got off – though lots got on.

1 hour on the train from Lockerbie to the next station standing in a hot overcrowded vestibule. I do not anticipate this to be fun.

I usually like travelling by train, less hassle (especially with all the airport security checks) better for the environment… but travelling by Virgin trains is pushing it. Ahh my poor knees I will delve again into my in search of knee braces and hope that the weird pins and needles like pains that assault me after wearing wetsuits don’t get too bad.

The Scottish countryside however is living up to its usual beauty.

I think seeing me scribbling away in my notebook may have unnerved the crew slightly but they were all nice. I pity them the most as they have to do this every Saturday and probably have other journeys on other days. I know that this is the last weekend of the Edinburgh festival but this is no excuse if more people want to travel run more trains.

The strain lessened slightly at Haymarket but it is only a few minutes from there to Waverly.

Freedom at last 1 hour 20 minutes to eat my packed lunch before my connection leaves.

Thus ends episode 2 of the Tragedy of Virgin trains.

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