Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Stop the train, I want to get off!!

South West Trains take sticking to the timetable a little too earnestly. It’s as if station staff have been told, ‘at all costs you must stick to the timetable, do not send your train chugging off into the distance a minute late, it MUST leave the station at the designated time.’

This is assuming the train gets to the station on time in the first place, but that is another, well documented, story.

The other day, the train I was on pulled into my station on time. This isn’t news in itself, to be honest, this happens quite frequently really, so I shouldn’t grumble about that too much.

Does anyone else get rather irritated by those silly internal doors that can’t recognise when there is a person passing through, and attempt to close with a sly little beep-beep-beep, thereby trapping the person in-between them? That has happened to me quite a lot. I dislike that little lit-up green button that you have to press as the doors are closing in order to get it to stay open. Someone with less manual dexterity than myself may struggle with pushing a moving button. Sometimes I struggle when I am half asleep in the morning.

However, when my train pulled into my station, I waited until everyone had queued up in the aisle and traipsed off the train as normal before leaping up and following them, bringing up the rear, as they say.

I got to these pesky internal doors and they began to close as I approached them. I dived forward to press the green button to get them to open. They didn’t. They paused for a second while my finger was on the button, so I tried again. They didn’t open. So I got a little bit frantic and pressed the button rapidly. Eventually, after about 5 pushes, they opened again. In the meantime however, passengers getting ON to the train had almost finished embarking. I realised that the outside doors were beeping and about to close (despite there being about three people outside still queuing to get on). I dashed to the door and squeezed through as it was closing, rudely (I’m sorry) pushing past the three people trying to get on. One of them shouted ‘hang on’ to the station whistle blower, who ignored him and blew the whistle and waved the round-headed stick thing. The waiting passengers did a frantic squeeze through the doors to get on to the train, and the last one got stuck. Fortunately it was a fairly big chap who just prised the doors open so that he could through. I am sure if I was in that situation I would just stutter meekly, ‘argh, what do I do?’ and get carried off with the train.

So, despite the train whistle blower being aware of three people waiting to get on the train (not to mention me trying to get off!) they signalled that the train was safe to close its doors and move on. I understand the need to keep to timetable targets, but at the detriment to paying passengers being able to GET ON (and off!) the train they have paid for?!

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

YOU SAY

"It’s as if station staff have been told, ‘at all costs you must stick to the timetable, do not send your train chugging off into the distance a minute late, it MUST leave the station at the designated time.’

Everyone else thanks us for running the trains on time!

Anonymous said...

It’s as if station staff have been told, ‘at all costs you must stick to the timetable, do not send your train chugging off into the distance a minute late, it MUST leave the station at the designated time.’

Everyone else thanks us for running the trains on time!!

Anonymous said...

In january you said "I require a train that arrives on time and delivers me to my destination on time." How can it do that if it doesn't leave on time?

Steve said...

Got to tell you kid - the irritating internal doors are fire doors - we have to have them by law. The external doors can't close on someone; if they encounter a blockage they automatically reopen. If they find an obstacle more than three times, they lock themselves open and the train cannot move until a member of the train crew resets them.

As to the timetable - it's there for a reason. You can have punctual trains or trains that run when they feel like it. I understand people complain about the latter, but I never thought being on time was a problem?

Girl on A Train said...

I did indeed say,
"I require a train that arrives on time and delivers me to my destination on time."

But I think trains staff need to wait for everyone to get on first, before signalling that it is safe to move on! There's a big gap between the train and the platform, and rushing people to jump on the train quickly is a safety issue, I think.

I am happy when they run on time, but I am not happy to see safety compromised for it!

But what can I say, I am a regular customer and hard to please..
:-D

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the problem is the staff get frustrated when the 12 coach train with *24 working doors* pulls into the platform but the fat, lazy passengers insist on using only the 2 doors closest to the station exit! A little common sense, walking along the platform and finding space would pay dividends to everyone - trains would run on time and there wouldn't be a rugby scrum at each station! Also, some manners and allowing people off the train first without grouping around the doors with the "I want to be first onboard" mentality would help too.

However, common sense is a rapidly disappearing virtue in this politically correct country in which we reside... Where everyone else but the individual concerned is now apparently responsible for the one persons actions...

BTW, regarding the doors, are you PUSHing or TOUCHing them? Many of the trains my way have buttons that neeed to be PUSHed, yet countless people seem to think they are touch sensitive, so just stand there for eternity staring at the door that won't open! *sighs*

Girl on A Train said...

I cannot vouch for other people's train travel habits. However, a little bit of walking along the platform to find a space does not always solve the problem. Sometimes, and you might not believe this to be true, but sometimes, the platforms really are that crowded!

I am intrigued by the number of pro-SWT commenters on the site. True I am not an expert on all things SWT !! However, it is clear that some of these commenters WORK on the trains rather than TRAVEL on them everyday. I imagine it's a different kettle of fish.

As for calling me ignorant about these matters, oh well. I understand why those internal doors are necessary, I am just saying that not all of them are completely functional. Live with it.

To anonymous, I am pushing them, rather than touching them. But I can't blame you for asking!

Anonymous said...

Hello Girl On A Train (I was going to shorten it to GOAT, but didn't think it was exactly apt!) ;-)

On some of the services I use into London, frequently the rear coaches are less crowded - presumably as people don't want to walk to the barrier! I always head for the rear, more chance of a seat! I need the exercise too! :-)

Buttons (as in, the things for the doors, not the panto character). Many minutes of fun I've had watching people staring at static doors, rather than push a bit harder or walk to the next one (which is usually open - they MUST use THAT door!!!).

Did anyone call you ignorant? I hope not. You seem nice enough to me. :-)
The internal doors are a legal requirement, each one should hold a fire back for at least 30 minutes, so if both are working correctly (or locked in the closed position), you should have 1 hour of protection.

Daniel (memorex) said...

Hiya.

I'm one week into my two weeks work experience placement at London St. Pancras.

I was on dispatch yesterday, (so it was my job to make sure the train left on time).

The whistle doesn't really mean much. We blow the whistle because everyone **thinks** the train is about to go - so they speed up. What you really need to look for is if the guy blowing the whistle has his arm in the air - that means he's telling the guard or driver to shut his doors.


Regards,
Daniel.

Anonymous said...

*claps hands*
well done daniel