Archive for the trains Category

Episode 114. In which First Capital Connect are rubbish.

Posted in rant, trains with tags , , , , , , on November 14, 2009 by diabetses

Firstly, let me clarify that First Capital Connect, or FCC, or Effin’CC as I now call them, are rubbish at all times.  Almost constantly, fairly consistently, possibly to the death, you can rely on FCC to be rubbish.

Recently, though, they’ve outdone themselves.  I live in Brighton and work in the City of London, I rely heavily on FCC.  I don’t feel that’s unreasonable, I am only relying on them to do what it is they are paid to do, what they have a contract to do, what they, as an organisation, exist to do.

About three weeks ago they started mysteriously cancelling trains due to staff shortages.  Maybe it’s swine flu, I thought, or just bad management, too many people off on holiday.

Over the course of weeks and weeks of unreliable and overcrowded services, it finally became clear what was going on, and I was astounded at the stupidity.  It wasn’t a strike per se, but a lot of drivers were refusing to work overtime and days off.

Surely that shouldn’t be a big deal.  Oh, but it is.  Because FCC do not have enough drivers on the payroll to run its trains, unless they all volunteer to work overtime and days off.

Now that’s just ridiciulous.  It’s anyone’s right not to work more than their contracted hours, building your entire company on everyone always working extra time is idiotic.  Also, do I like the idea that my train is being driven by a guy on his fourth overtime shift of the week?  Not so much!

On Thursday 12th and Friday 13th November it all kicked off.  As I understand it, on Thursday basically everyone refused to do extra shifts, and by Friday it was an official strike action.  I saw notices about this on Wednesday night, so like the smart cookie I am, I prepared for it.  I checked what was going on online, made sure I knew what was and wasn’t running.  On Wednesday night I was asleep by 9pm, and awake by 5am on Thursday morning.  I made the sandwiches, got all dolled up, suited and booted, because I had a job interview.  I checked online what the latest situation was and decided that as my usual train was cancelled I’d go for the one before it, which was definitely running.

In the time between me checking one last time as I left the flat, and reaching the station, that train was cancelled.

And the info desk was crowded, whilst the info man explained that he knows how frustrating it is, but you see, management aren’t offering a pay deal!

I may or may not have mentioned this, but I am being made redundant.  I have my job for the time it will take to complete the planned restructure, and then I will be surplus to requirements.  I love my job, and I am very good at it, and therefore I get up every day and spend an hour and a half on a train, knowing I’ll spend another hour and a half on another train to get home after a day’s work.  Five days a week, I give up twelve hours of the day, even though it is no longer an investment in anything at all.

So it is hard for me not to tell info guy exactly why I do not care for his troubles, and expect to be conducted to my workplace as was agreed when I bought my season ticket.

First Capital Connect, as far as I am aware, do not care what their customers think of them.  They are generally unreliable, unless you rely on random cancellations, delays and rolling stock that is quite frankly just nasty.  So this strike, which is putting thousands of customers to massive inconvenience every day – in what way is it a punishment for FCC management, or incentive for them to do better?  If FCC were going to listen to the customers, and therefore do whatever it takes to ge the trains running, then they would probably also be inclined to keep the customer happy by just being better on a day to day basis.

It’s the commuters who are suffering, whilst FCC continue to sell tickets and season tickets despite not running most of their trains, and therefore not incurring the associated costs.  When trains don’t do extra shifts, FCC doesn’t have to *pay* for extra shifts.

Maybe that’s the plan.  Maybe they’re saving up until they have enough put aside to afford a better pay deal.  Maybe they’re saving up until they can afford to hire enough drivers to do what they’re paid for.

Frankly, I don’t care.  I can’t trust FCC, I can’t rely on them, and there is a very real possibility that my future travel needs will be met by Southern trains in conjunction with London Buses.  Yes, that will be inconvenient and a general pain in the arse, but I do have a tendency towards grudges where abysmal customer service is concerned.

Diabetic moment of the day

I had my swine flu jab today, what with being all delicate and all.  I am very impressed by the fact that I hardly felt the injection at all.  I mean I felt it, I’m not made of stone, but it hurt less than the seasonal flu jab, and an awful lot less than the pneumonia jab, which was closer to what I was expecting.  However, I do have the sore arm that I had expected from reports in the news and from friends.

But I’d rather have a sore arm than swine flu, that’s for damned sure.


Episode 81. In which I work late.

Posted in books, home, trains on March 3, 2009 by diabetses

Here’s the thing, right, I worked late last night, and didn’t get home until 9pm, and then went to bed at 10pm, and in the middle forgot to write my blog.  Sorry.  I’m not actually sorry because staying up late to write it would’ve been stupid but if anyone is terribly disappointed in me for it, then I regret that.

Working late is a dilemma for me.  It takes such a long time to get home that working late means I get home at a silly time, like last night.  I realise 9pm isn’t the silliest time anyone has gotten home from working late, but if I don’t get my sleep I can’t function so it’s pretty important that I do, and that limits my available hours.  However, working late does mean that a) I get a lot of extra work done, because the phone’s not ringing, people aren’t passing through, it’s very quiet and peaceful and I can get my head down and get into tasks and b) when I do leave for home, the train is slightly less busy, I’m more likely to get a seat and less likely to get stood on by grumpy middle-aged men who are pissed off that there isn’t a first class carriage on this particular day.

I’m very busy recently and suspect I might have to work late a few times this week, but if that means I catch up on things then I’m not that bothered.  There’s only an hour in it (I’d have been home earlier last night if I hadn’t had to go grocery shopping on the way back from the station) and it means I can leave My Man to do the cooking.

This morning I woke up at 5am.  I wasn’t sure of the time because I left my phone in my jacket pocket so I got up to find it, and then after 10 minutes of dithering between going back to sleep and just getting up, I decided to get up.  Then I spent a bit of time dithering between going to work early and lounging around with a cup of tea for the extra hour, and went with the latter.

Which is how I had time to do this.

Diabetic moment of the day

Can’t think of anything.  But I do have to tell the hospital that I’ve moved house.  So my former landlords don’t get all my test results.

Episode 64. In which Friday 13th strikes again.

Posted in trains with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2009 by diabetses

It’s Friday 13th.  I like Friday 13th.   I don’t believe it’s a particularly unlucky day, but I do think it’s special.  I have had very good things happen on Friday 13th, and I have had very bad things happen on Friday 13th.

This week has been incredibly strange, and Friday 13th continued in that vein.  I got my job done, and I got my desk cleared off a bit in preparation for my coming holiday (we’re moving house!).  But it was a very strange day.  I was relieved when it was 5.30 and time to go home.

I jsut happened to check the National Rail website and it said something about an earlier journey being messed up because of something being broken.  I should know by now that just because claims my train’s running, that doesn’t make it so.

My train was to terminate at East Croydon, instead of running through to Brighton.  Of course, East Croydon was packed with people heading everywhere south of there, and also the Friday evening Gatwick travellers.  I was a bit of a smartarse and instead of heading for the Brighton train, I headed for the Littlehampton train, knowing that this would go via Hove.

It turned out that there were massive signal and track failures south of Haywards Heath so everything was delayed all to hell, and in the end I got off at Preston Park and got a taxi home from there.  My journey home usually takes about 75 minutes.  Tonight it took, door to door, just over three hours.  Of course, I was forced to get a takeaway for dinner, because I wasn’t capable of cooking.  Such is life.

Some good sides of today

  1. I made a friend.  She gets my train and today we talked more than the usual “bloody trains” smalltalk, which was nice.
  2. It’s the day I count as my anniversary with My Man.  Not 13th February – Friday 13th.  There was a Friday 13th shortly after we met and I just think it’s easier to remember Friday 13th and, say, buy him a takeaway, than to insist on one specific date each year being set aside for something and getting arsey when he forgets.  I try to be nice to him every Friday 13th.  Whether he likes it or not.

Diabetic moment of the day

I had a bit of a shaky moment this afternoon.  I necked a big glass of orange juice and it was fine.  I don’t often drink orange juice, and it was very, very pleasant.