> For those who get the Great Eastern Railway or any trains really.
> This is a letter that a friend of a friend has recently written to Great
> Dear Sir or Madam:
> I write this letter out of anger at the state of the train service
> currently provided by yourselves. Today I have come to the end of my
> tether. I attempted to phone your customer service number to make a
> complaint but after being put on hold for 15 minutes I hung up.
> I am in complete disbelief at how you can continue charging so much for
> such a horrific service and wish to let you in on my average morning:-
> Every morning I park my car at Seven Kings aiming to board the 7.53am
> train to Liverpool Street station however since the trains rarely stick
> any kind of time table this is irrelevant. I work just outside of
> Liverpool Street station and start work at 9am, this train should pull
> about 8.15am allowing plenty of time to be in the office well before
> 8.30am as well as enabling me to purchase breakfast on the way.
> I make my way to the platform to find literally hundreds of others
> standing on the station, indicating that there has not been a train for
> some time. I then wait for 10 minutes on the promise of ''the next train
> arriving at platform 3 will be the delayed 7.02am service (or some such
> ridiculous time) this train is expected to arrive in 2 minutes''. Five
> minutes still with no train having appeared I am greeted with the same
> monotonous voice which I have come to know so well, advising ''the next
> train to arrive at platform 3 will be the delayed 7.02am service this
> train is expected to arrive in 2 minutes, this delay has been caused by a
> signal failure in Greater Manchester''. By this time several thousand
> commuters are standing on the platform praying that lady luck is shining
> on them this morning and that when the next train pulls in the doors will
> by some miracle stop in front of them.
> Several commuters are leaning over the platform edge peering into the
> distance scanning the horizon for a rare sighting of a Great Eastern
> which is virtually unheard of before 10am. Gasps of surprise spread
> the platform when a train is spotted, however most are unsure whether
> their eyes are deceiving them. Never entirely convinced myself, I pinch
> arm just to ensure this isn't some kind of elaborate dream. A small
> waive of joy washes over me as I realise it is a train and not a mirage.
> Hooray I should be in work by 9am!! However, as the train starts to slow
> and the windows rush past any previous delight (or perhaps relief)
> experieced was short lived and has dissentegrated to nothing as I realise
> there is no way on Gods earth I am squashing my massive (note the
> 9 stone bulk into the 2 inch gap remaining in each carriage.
> So pursues my wait for the 'next train' if ever there will be one. The
> time now 8.20am breakfast plans are aborted (again) and I realise it is
> imperative I get on the next train or not only will I arrive at work
> hungry I will also be late. The next train pulls in and de ja vu kicks
> in. Packed, packed, packed!!! My fellow commuters (by this time running
> into millions) look aghast as I stand back about 3 meters, ''what is she
> doing?''. The train stops and the doors open I take a run up...... a
> leap....... bang! Yes I'm on!! No one can breathe but at least I'm on.
> Minor celebrations begin in my head, a small band starts up and I feel
> rather smug at my good fortune. Everyone on the train is moaning, but
> what option to I have? 10% of my salary every month goes on to this
> service and I believe I have a right (although Great Eastern probably
> disagrees) to board a train. Besides what choice do I have I could be
> there all day!!
> Next challenge, the doors but luckily for me everyone is very experienced
> and as the familiar beeb beeb beeb sounds everyone inhales and after
> taking a few blows to either side of my head the doors close and we're
> off. Well actually we're going about as fast a tortoise with three legs,
> due to 'adverse weather conditions' which can be translated as
> I suppose this could be deemed as understandable, the train system was
> designed optimistically I suspect with the expectance of glorious
> every day. I dread to think what will happen if the weather gets really
> bad, perhaps the ceilings will leak, perhaps they are made from canvas
> because they omitted to consider external stimuli such as rain, and
> God help us all if it snows!
> Next challenge - Ilford. Not only do I now have a big muddy stain across
> my cheek and nose where my face has been squashed against the glass but I
> am fully aware of the fact I will have to fight to keep my place on this
> carriage especially if anyone wants to get off. What should be a
> journey to work is now more like survival of the fittest. Other
> passengers are now not considered as friendly fellow commuters they are
> the enemy designed to challenge your staying power and threaten your
> on the carriage. Fortunately at Ilford no one needs to get off (phew) but
> now there are about 40 people charging at me who all appear keen to join
> us on our 'adventure' to work - 1 lucky man makes it. By this stage the
> number of passengers present in each carriage is the equivalent of
> cramming about 100 sardines into a standard sized tin. We are so tightly
> packed in I cannot move my hands to get a tissue from my pocket to wipe
> nose, I can feel a mobile phone vibrating in my pocket which I realise is
> not mine it belongs to the lady attached to my right hand side. On top
> this the heat is unbearable I have sweat running down my forehead which I
> am powerless to do anything about. The 1 inch gap designed to ventilate
> the trains appear to be more designed as 'a little joke' by Great
> who in the peak of British summer time took great pleasure in permanently
> wedging then half shut so they open barely a centimetre. In fact I'm
> surprised they haven't been glued completely shut for additional 'fun'.
> Eventually after the train has reluctantly dragged its feet into
> Stratford, the passengers who have now all bonded together to form a
> like human square burst open onto the platform and now its time for the
> recovery process. I take my hair down in an effort to dry the sweat out
> of it, I try to wipe the mud off of my face, I pick off the snot which
> has dried in a crusty trail from my nose to my upper lip and also try to
> regain the use of my body parts which have ceased up due to excessive
> and needles.
> We are then greeted at Liverpool Street station by stadium sized crowds
> queuing to get through the barriers. And after this I sprint to work
> like Linford Christie, scraping in by the skin of my teeth for 9am,
> looking like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards and
> understandably in a 'great' mood.
> A few comments for you to take on board:-
> * Don't add insult to injury by 'thanking us for travelling with
> Eastern', as its certainly not something 99% of the passengers 'choose'
> they are just unfortunate enough to live near to one of your dire train
> * Do not ask us to accept your apologies for the delay, you should
> apologising for the abysmal service, the over-packed trains and the
> extortionate price of travel.
> * Perhaps the layout of the trains could be reconsidered, you are
> never going to be able to provide enough trains, so perhaps you could rip
> out the seats and everyone could stand up. You could then sell the seats
> at a car boot sale and perhaps offer a refund or Christmas bonus type
> scheme for season ticket holders.
> * Why not consider a name change? I can't think of a more
> name than 'Great Eastern' I should think 'Shite Eastern' would be far
> more appropriate.
> I trust someone will have the decency to read and respond to this letter,
> and perhaps even consider taking some of my innovative ideas on board.
> I look forward to your explanation, and proposed plans for improvements.