Grey hairs and SWT – an unlikely combo

I met Alice for lunch yesterday – she pointed out to me that I had two grey hairs right in the middle of my hairline across my forehead. The last one she found she plucked out for me. I don’t know why they decide to sprout when I am meeting up with her, but as we meet once a week, I could be bald soon.

I meant to add this to here yesterday, but didn’t get the chance. It is what I asked of South West Trains for their web chat with the MD. It starts at 2pm, so I will keep half an eye on what is going on, but I don’t expect my questions to answered:
Good Afternoon Mr Palmer,
Firstly, thank you for giving up your time to answer our questions. I have 3 issues that I would like to raise with you please.
1. Until this month I was an Annual Season ticket holder from Portsmouth to Waterloo, I travel to/from Fratton daily. While I am still commuting into London, I have chosen to buy a monthly ticket as we will be moving shortly. There is no other reason, even with the £74 a month price increase seen this year.
Since the signalling works have (finally) finished in the Portsmouth area, the stop for the trains to London has moved up platform one at Fratton station. Every morning the 06:24 now stops with the first door people are able to get alight the train a fair walk away from the ticket office, cafe, overhead shelter and right on top of the bike racks. Every morning a station announcement is made to remind us that only to get on the front 5 coaches (totally understandable as you can’t open the other half of the train), nearly every morning the guard on the train also bellows down the platform to people who persist in congregating near the station entrance to get on the train, it being the logical place to wait when you are unsure of your journey.
The regular commuters wait in inclement weather in the open, while squashing up against each other so people can walk up the platform and moving out the way to allow people to park their bikes securely. When I wrote to your Customer Service centre about why the stop had moved away from the station facilities; I was told that this was due to Health & Safety issues, no other explanation. Can you please investigate WHAT Health & Safety issues, as when I asked for this to be explained in more detail, I was again fobbed off with the same response? On the return journey, as we never know where the train is going to stop on the platform, can you please enforce the same Health & Safety regulations or enable travellers who are unsteady on their feet, require assistance, etc. to receive the best service from your staff and move the stop back to where it was originally from platform one? Failing that, could we have an extension to the roof, and maybe move the cycle racks further along the platform? Also am I to guess that with the stopping point being changed during the re-signalling that you were blatantly ignoring the said Health & Safety regulations before?
2. On the last web chat you responded to people asking about the timetable after the Portsmouth signalling was completed that: ‘we will examine the timetable in the area in conjunction with other train operators to ensure that it is the best that can be provided’. Could you please travel for a week with us to prove once and for all, that the train is comfortably busy at Haslemere, but uncomfortably full from Guildford and Woking? The return journey on the 17:30 or 18:00 services, it is again full to bursting, with most of the commuters leaving the train at again Woking, Guildford and Godalming. Would it not be prudent to run 444 trains fast to and from Haslemere, as was in the timetable of yore, leaving the 450 for the shorter journeys to Woking, Guildford et al? As we only have 2 fast trains an hour to get to/from Portsmouth, we have far fewer options to travel than people living near these stations.
3. Can you please make the recorded announcements quieter on the journey? Every day we are regaled at the same spots along the line, with the same disembodied voice, telling us to buy tickets before we board the train, to keep our belongings with us, and so on, but they are so loud they are painful. And why have a quiet carriage, with these booming out in them? You may as well remove the stickers on the windows in them anyway, as so many people ignore them, and with your guards that have on occasion asked me why I would like them to speak to people with music blaring or on the phone, what do I expect them to do?
Thank you for reading, I apologise that I have emailed 3 queries in but if I, and other travellers, got answers that satisfied, rather than the sometime obtuse, banal reasoning and uptight justification that comes out of the Customer Service centre, we wouldn’t keep raising the same issues time and again.

I will keep you posted…


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