This will be a Victor Meldrew-style rant, so apologies in advance. I have to travel on London Midland's rail route into Euston. They took over the franchise recently and to be frank, their punctuality, service and responsiveness to customers are all crap. The service over the last few months has been utterly dire, with an endless stream of signalling problems, broken-down trains, unexplained delays - and pretty much every train is late for some reason. You can claim money back for delays longer than 30 mins, but all the constant 10, 15 and 20-minute delays which go under the radar are HUGELY frustrating. My only pathetic consolation is that I have an annual TFL travelcard which entitles me to a discount on the fare, and as it covers zones 1 and 2 I get an extra bit off because technically I've already paid to travel through that bit (apologies to non-Londoners - I know this is deadly dull but the reason for explaining will become clear). Today I went up to buy my ticket and the clerk said it would be £7.05. No, I said pleasantly, it's £5.70. No it isn't, she said - our managers have just told us today that if you travel on the fast train (ie only stops at Watford, then London terminus), you can't get the discount for zones 1 and 2. Only the slow train is now eligible, they have decreed, because it actually STOPS, whereas the other one travels through. So if I got the fast train on the discounted ticket, I would have to get off at Watford and get back on the slow one that follows it.
This is for exactly the same route. Going through the same places. On the same bleedin' tracks. To the same destination. But in their mad quest to wring ever more money out of us, this is a good new wheeze, no? Forgive me for being way over the top here about a small amount of money , but sometimes the little things are the ones that tip you over the edge!
[OK, slightly calmer now.....oooh, my first proper MN rant...it feels gooooooooooood!]
Alas, alas, can't use Chiltern - we're in the wrong bit of Herts. The other day they just completely cancelled all services for some reason and I had to get DH to drive me (luckily he was at home) to the nearest alternative station - 25 mins away by road - so I could get into London for a meeting I couldn't miss. Then I had to argue with LM customer services about getting a refund of the extra costs I'd incurred. Gaah!
Virgin - left me stranded on a train in my wheelchair while everyone got off. First Great Western - tried to put me and dd at opposite ends of train cos we're both in wheelchairs. National express trains - 3 hours late, cancelled trains and no bloody ramp for the chairs.
Yes, I try to get the bus whenever I can - they're pretty hopeless where we live, though, as the blessed Arriva seem not to realise that people may need to get to the main railway station! But sometimes there's no alternative to the car. London Midland decided to change the parking system so that season tickets, which used to allow you a set number of entries, now expire within a certain time-span. So for people like me who don't use the car-park 5 days a week, it's pointless. I have to buy a daily ticket at full price while the lucky season-ticket-holding commuters get to park for half the amount! (whoops, I said I wouldn't get started on the car-park, didn;t I?)
TW My route into London has a similar restriction that came in when they introduced the idea of evening peak. I travel in quite late so have always used a cheap day return rather than standard return but I do travel during their new evening peak. Now I can still have the cheap fare but only if I am on a slow stopping train. Doesn't ususally bother me as I actually prefer the slow train as I'm more likely to get some work done. I think what annoys me more is that they keep this really quiet so most people think they have to pay the higher fare even if they are on the stopping train.
Yes, I've had some lovely times on Virgin Trains too. Always love the excuse that 'the boiler's broken' so they can't come round with the hot-drinks trolley. Strangely, it never seems to affect First Class.
I will say that Virgin had the right idea this summer by making the otherwise generally-empty First Class carriages at the back of the train (North-bound)standard class instead of making people stand in cattle second class further down the train. It's absurd when 6 out of 13 carriages are First and empty!!
I know exactly the line you are talking about as I get it too.
I complained to them recently as we were stopped at a station forever waiting for a member of staff. When she finally appeared she was carrying a chuffing cup of tea as she leisurely wended her way across the footbridge.