Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Thomas was always on time, right?

Thomas was always on time, right?

Dear Mr Branson,

At Oxford station on Friday lunchtime I enquired if the bank holiday was going to affect the train timetable.

"Oh no, it's normal service".

And indeed it was normal service. My train to Birmingham on Friday was delayed by 40 minutes. When I did get on it was standing room only. And as I hadn't exactly mastered the 'light packing' thing the only place where I could store my luggage and sit down was outside of the toilet. I'm sure that I don't need to elaborate on just how skanky this was. Especially on a train where it is a million degrees and there is no fresh oxygen as it has been used up by all of the thousand people on board. Now I can't imagine that when you're in your balloon that it is very comfortable, but I suspect that it is infinitely preferably to sitting outside of one of your toilets.

If I thought that the first stage of my journey was interesting enough then I certainly wasn't prepared for what happened on the return leg from York to Oxford. We arrived at the station in plenty of time to discover that the train to Birmingham was delayed by over half an hour. Under most circumstances that would have been annoying enough and I'd have muttered about you under my breath but there was a slightly bigger complication in this. Namely that the half hour delay meant that I would miss my connection. And my connection was the last train to Oxford. In short, your trains had conspired to leave me stranded in Birmingham. Which is not the nicest thing to face on a Monday evening when you're a tiny woman* in flip flops with approximately 56 pence in copper to her name.

If your trains have been proving to me why public transport is shit, then I have to commend your staff, all of whom were incredibly helpful. And occasionally amusing. Not least when it emerged that a coach had been laid on for the three people stranded in Birmingham because of your earlier cock-up with carriages. Yes, a full size, padded seat, air-conditioned coach. For three people. What can I say, it was an improvement on the floor with a view of the toilet. For future reference, though, I have a coach card as well as a railcard. I chose trains because I'm less likely to be sick on them. Had I wanted a coach, I'd have booked a seat on one.

By the time I got home it was nearly midnight. I'd arrived at York station at 6:15pm. Count yourself lucky that you didn't come into contact with me last night or I'd have been sticking my suitcase somewhere very painful.

Yours sincerely,


*Tinier than I was prior to finals it seems, as I discovered in the Lifeboat giftshop in Whitby that I've gained a 25 inch waist. Ebay vintage dresses, here I come.


Val said...

The bizarreness of your footnote can only be explained by the fantastic wonderfulness that is a RNLI gift shop complete with chav Dolphins, comedy pencil sharpeners and said tape measure.
Please remember to eat :)

gayle said...

I think that journey beats my 'rail replacement bus driver deciding to take the scenic route through Lancashire so that I miss my train connection' hands down. Hats off to Mr Branson once again for trying to ruin our weekends away.