Advantages Vibration of old trains sends you to sleep. Delays mean extra sleep
Disadvantages Boss yells at you for being late. Dog eats your dinner due to being late.
In a recent and somewhat uncharacteristic fit of optimism, I decided to escape London for the fresh air of east Kent. Things looked good, I managed to stretch my wage to get a mortgage and my partner found a job she enjoys. Perhaps a little naively I thought that ConnexSouth Eastern would be capable of ferrying me to work in London every day. At the very least I hoped that they would be able to reliably achieve a modicum of time keeping in this simple task, even if I plan to jump companies the minute the high-speed rail link from Ashford to London is completed. Alas, Connex have failed dismally.I have recently suffered regular extensive delays during the ‘rush hour’, a period of the day where Connex staff appear to be doing as little as possible. I have had the joy of trains 45 minutes late boarding in London with connections not being made at Faversham and then arriving home 50-60 minutes late. The thing that annoys me are the missing minutes that cannot be accounted for by the standard stock excuses of ‘no driver’ or ‘shortage of rolling stock’ (whatever this means), and the appalling customer relations skills of the majority (with some notable exceptions) of their staff. Naturally I expect an element of incompetence from any railway company, but does a ‘delay to the train on its inbound journey’ account for why the train leaving 20 minutes late arrived at its destination 40 minutes late? What is this company doing when I, and several hundred thousand other people, are trying to get home? Is their accounts department so overflowing with our cash that the drivers have all been blocked in the staff room?
Okay, I am naturally partly to blame for my predicament. I should obviously not have been so selfish as to think I could buy a house outside of London while optimistically believing that Connex could actually deliver a service. But the complaint is not just about a gross failure to keep to timetables, it is also about the appalling condition of their trains, many of which are the poorly maintained old slam-door type which should really be rusting in museums by now. Having travelled on their new trains, there is a major difference in standard. The only grouches I have about the new trains is that the air-conditioning rivals my fridge-freezer, and do a quarter of the customers on crowded new trains really intend to travel first class? Otherwise, the new trains are a major improvement and the only positive thing about Connex.So for those of you who are considering the option of using Connex South-Eastern think carefully beforehand. If you are the type of person who is happy to hand over large sums of your money to a company that would rather pay dividends to its shareholders than make serious attempts to turn their service around, then this is the rail company you need to use. If you are gullible or looking for inspiration, then Connex are offering the latest in poor excuses. Or if you are like me, you will no doubt enjoy the opportunity to get rid of your uncharacteristic optimism and start complaining.
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