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Life as we Know It – National Express Trains

It is often said of middle-aged people that they are “grumpy” – especially men. There is certainly an increased tendency to complain and an apparently unlimited number of things to complain about – but I was thinking about this….

With age comes confidence, experience and an increased desire for comfort. Is it any wonder then that given someone who is less intimidated by authority, has the experience to know when things have been better and who actually cares if their trip is comfortable or product actually works as advertised, that these people would be more likely to complain?

I can remember a time as a teen when I would stand in long queues to get into a nightclub. Why did I do that? Why would I stand in a long queue to get into a bar so I could have the privilage of spending my hard-earned money on booze? I guess thinking back, I didn’t know there was a better way and I had this crazy idea that getting drunk gave you more chances of meeting the opposite sex, therefore standing in queues in the freezing cold at 10.30pm was just the price you paid. Similarly I used to accept pretty awful service in shops before I’d travelled to the likes of the USA where staff are actually polite (whether they mean it or not is another matter, it’s the experience that counts). I don’t do any of that any more.

I’ve been on National Express trains twice now since they took over from GNER. The first time they screwed up the trip and put 2-train’s worth of customers onto one – the result, passengers who’d paid a fortune to sit in first class for a bit of comfort were standing neck-to-neck from London to Peterborough – in the height of the flu season – and I may add the company had just printed a load of leaflets to let you know how they were putting on extra trains to improve the service from the last lot. The second time they’d screwed up the seat bookings and so it became a mad scramble to get a seat with a table – first come, first served. It mattered not that you might have paid twice the cost of a cheap overseas holiday flight just for a train seat.

This kind of thing is simply not good enough. With air travel becoming more of a nightmare by the day, we’re all potential terrorists and so what used to be a quick hop-on, hop off now takes almost as long as taking the train – in some cases longer.

If a train or plane is late, you’ve no chance of compensation, but if YOU are late you have to pay FULL-RIPPING FAIR for another ticket. There’s something simply unfair about the one-sided nature of the deal.

Meanwhile the only real solution to transport woes is the car. The car doesn’t care if you’re a little late and it doesn’t mind doing a diversion if a road is closed. But thanks partly to global warming the car is now number one target for more taxation (actually that’s not true, businesses seem to be the number 1 target but I reckon it’s neck and neck).

Well, I intend to use my car MORE often and shout about it. I’m well aware of global warming but less aware of any real proof that we have anything to do with it – public transport is RUBBISH and that’s all there is to it. It’ll take a lifetime to develop a decent, comfortable, efficient public transport system if that’s even possible, meanwhile if there are any younger folk reading this blog – I beg you – if you suffer bad service, COMPLAIN, not to your friends but to the supplier of the service – and don’t just complain, push for a refund. Why on earth should you pay full rate for something that was no as advertised?

The sooner we stop accepting whatever is thrown at us, the sooner things will get better.

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