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?!