Greater Anglia: We don't care about refunds, we just want clean trains
PUBLISHED: 06:00 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:13 31 January 2020
Rachel Moore says enough is enough after travelling on the 'dirtiest, scruffiest, coldest' train of her life...
Those poor 400 people stuck on the 7.40am Norwich to London train for five hours on Tuesday before they were rescued on to the tracks by ladder.
If we had been stuck on the old bone shaker Norwich to London train Greater Anglia treated us to last week, we'd have needed antibiotics, treatment for hypothermia and a spell in recovery.
I have never travelled on a dirtier, scruffier, colder train than the 10.30am "replacement train" last Wednesday, and I've been on some shockers.
Congratulations Greater Anglia. You really surpassed yourself and ruined the first part of our long-awaited day out.
Logistics problems happen on rail networks. We understand. Contingency plans are sometimes needed when trains break down. We get it.
But there really is no excuse to impose such revolting conditions on paying passengers, who expect and deserve better, and then saying or doing nothing remotely apologetic about it.
"You'd better get a coffee now because there's no food or drink on board," warned a friend I met on the platform when we arrived at Norwich Station. "It's one of those old trains."
Like him and his family, we had first class tickets for our day out. The train we travelled on had no tables, no buffet car or even trolley, its floor and seats were filthy and it was so cold we huddled in our coats for the entire two hours.
The once white seat protectors on the headrests were grubby and grey and the toilets, two carriages away, were revolting.
The carriage was so grim, we didn't touch the snacks and bottle of bubbly we'd brought to launch our day out.
Customers are treated with this like it or lump it attitude that says everything about its view of the travelling public and its lack of pride in its service.
It feels that it expects people to be grateful they're getting a train at all, illustrating a shameful disregard for customers who have no choice.
It's this disregard and dismissive attitude that really gets the public heckles up. If that was the only train at Great Anglia's disposal, and there was no choice but to use it, an explanation and apology was the least the company could do.
If you pay for a first-class ticket, the least you expect is a table for the two-hour trip and a basic level of cleanliness. You don't expect to have to buy your coffee at the station, zip up your coat to keep warm for the journey and avoid touching anything without hand cleanser and using the loo at all costs.
But at least we got a moving train that left on time, which is more that can be said for the thousands of passengers left stranded, late for meetings and appointments on Northern Rail, whose atrocious service has been played out this week.
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The railway franchise model running since privatisation is not working and on its way out. When profit is put before the travelling public and providing a decent service
On Tuesday, my son, travelling home from Exeter, got to Norwich to find his train home had been cancelled, leaving him to face an hour's wait in the dark and cold or trudge up to Norwich bus station to travel home, which he did.
It's something when buses become more reliable and prompter than trains.
Twitter is full of complaints every day about Greater Anglia. I expect my complaining email fell into a quagmire of other unhappy protests.
The train had been full of Norwich supporters travelling for the Tottenham Hotspur game, and each carriage was rumbling with complaining fans.
Greater Anglia doesn't seem to get it. People aren't after refunds and reimbursements, or enjoy moaning.
They simply want clean warm trains that run on time, reliably and efficiently to get them from A to B.
It's not a hard ask or target for a business making money doing it.
Why I love the pub where phones are banned
It seems leaving my phone at home for the day was ahead of the curve.
Social media 'influencers' are crowing about spending less time on their phones and having a phone out in public is fast becoming crass and vulgar.
On our trip to London, we popped into the Princess Louise pub in Holborn, famous for its traditional Victorian interior with wood paneling partitions. It was rammed full, lively and noisy, mostly of twenty and thirtysomethings.
Large behind the bar were signs banning mobile phones. This was a digital detox pub. Phones, tablets, laptops and anything digital was outlawed and to be left in bags and pockets.
People were expected to talk. Good old-fashioned conversation in a traditional boozer.
Its formula was working. There wasn't a spare seat in the place or metre of standing room.
It was loud, buzzing with 50 conversations going on at once and happy. No one taking selfies, fake happy group shots but a natural convivial hum.
Telling my son, on the phone later that week, he said: "We went in there last week. If you get your phone out, you're thrown out. It's a great idea, more pubs should do it." Eureka. The tide is turning.