Friday, 26 June 2009

Go where?

Paddington is an exquisite terminus, maybe even sumptuous. However, the people running it have the mean habit of refusing to reveal where their trains are leaving from until 5 minutes before departure. At the best of times this precipitates a rush among the would-be passengers that is unworthy of the surroundings. Moreover, I found a new twist to this on Wednesday. If, as I did, you misread the departure board (for the 9-30 to Bristol Temple Meads, if that adds to the piquancy) you find that there is neither means nor time to retrieve the situation: in the wrong part of the station none of the information you need is displayed, and none of the staff know anything either. Of course, this didn't matter in the slightest; it was only a train, and I took the next one.
But when I was a boy you could expect station staff to know about their trains, and staff in a bookshop to know about their stock, whereas now any such hope is regarded as eccentric, or even unreasonable. It wasn't as if I wanted detailed recommendations ("The 12-30 is an excellent train, sir, you won't go wrong with that. And the claret in the dining car is really most drinkable, but the zinfandel is suspect, I don't think it's been cellared properly"), but they knew nothing. Not their fault, clearly their management intends them to know nothing, but who gains by this?

14 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

If you picked a train at random, and kept doing that at every station you arrived at, how long would it take to reach your destination? A random amount time and a random cost too.

Lulu LaBonne said...

I know the Paddington - BTM announcement board well.

I just pretend that I'm in one of those school sports like the sack race, and if I don't make it - well it's just a train, I'll try and get on the ext one!

it gets tiring, I tend to use the car these days

Gadjo Dilo said...

But it gets worse if the management sends them on a charm course: they'll be greeting you with formulaic lines and "have a nice day sir" - no claret however good dispels that nausea.

KAZ said...

I made a nightmare journey fron Stansted to Manchester. Bad enough for an English speaker - how do visitors ever find their destination?

inkspot said...

GB, unfortunately your question is not hypothetical, the traveller on the contemporary version of British Railways discovers the answer every day and it's not pretty. Stay in the jungle, you're better off.

Lulu, Precision Handling has a vacancy for a driver, are you interested? Car and uniform not supplied, it's a bit like Ryanair.

Oh god Gadj, how right you are. Has that kind of bullshit hit Romania yet?

Kaz, exactly. How to convey to the oafs running these things that, seen from abroad, their shenanigans are disgusting?

Kevin Musgrove said...

at Euston they generally put the platform number to the train only after it has departed

at Oxford Road trains frequently depart from platform minus, which the cogniscenti know is either one or five

inkspot said...

Kevin, thank christ, I was hoping to hear from you, the voice of management. And senior management, at that. But you traduce Euston; the sleeper (queen of trains) always departs from platform 15. And I am unimpressed by the Mancunian manoeuvre of platform minus; it is sophomoric.

Lulu LaBonne said...

PH - you have a talent for making easily refusable offers - are you sure you're not my husband?

He says he's in Botswana but who knows?

Gadjo Dilo said...

No Inky, it hasn't hit Romania yet, thank God, and we still get the first 10 notes of a Hungarian-bashing nationalist song pumped out before each announcement!

Kevin Musgrove said...

Senior management? Good heavens my lad, I'm just a humble toiler in the vineyard.

If Lulu's not getting dolled up as your chaffeur why don't you ask if Madame Whiplash has a spare hour or two?

Mrs Pouncer said...

Inky, you aunt! Next time, tell me and I can travel with you as far as Reading General. I once fell asleep on that very line and woke up at Bristol Temple Meads which was a truly terrible experience. All the helpful BR staff sounded like Julie Birchall, the well known new Jew.

inkspot said...

Lulu, I multitask.

Gadj, Youtube was made for things like this. Perhaps with a voiceover from Mrs P?

Kevin, you are too modest.

Clarissa, it's a date. I generally have a glass of champagne at that time of day; OK with you?

Mrs Pouncer said...

Inky, I am in Rimini, but BARRY TEETH is back!! Go to his, soonest, and read his news.

BEAST said...

Inky , I have only travelled by train once in recent years from Bournemouth to Waterloo and back . First Class naturally . I availed myself of the Buffet 'trolley' and was happy as Larry with my two packets of mini cheddars , 1 bounty bar and a paper cup of Messrs Nescafe's finest brew