Recently in a lost battle of finances I have had to make the rather apt decision to start taking the train.
When fuel is up to £1.24/l in most areas on top of the ever rising road tax and insurance it's hard to justify the now just shy of £400 a month on commuting.
So I looked at the trains, weekly the cost to travel is £55.90 an monthly £214. This is all of course about to go up by around 10% in January but is still fairly affordable.
However, it's all good on paper and completely shit in practice. When First Great Western aren't cancelling my only train to work before mid-day to run one of the twenty London bound services, they're just delayed or inexplicably non-existent.
The customer service from the staff in the stations is below terrible standards and the usual reply to the problem of my cancelled train happens to be "why don't you take the next one" as if that concept has completely passed me by.
Even when I present the problem of no further connecting trains I receive a blank look and a bit of dribble to indicate "conversation over".
However for the majority of really piss poor service including Robo-Bitch delivering hollow apologies over the tannoy with as much sympathy as a robot can muster (and trust me, she is extremely sorry) there are still amazing staff members who value their jobs and the work they do. Regardless if the company can respect itself or not.
Such as the train manager on last Thursdays 70 minute late service from Paddington to Exeter (or possibly Plymouth I'll need to double check that later), who arrange all sorts of connections and road transport for each and every passenger in her care.
Even under this immense pressure she even took the time to check I was alright as I was standing in the vestibule.
If #FGW nurtured more people like her the service would be an actual value for money even though the rolling stock is a kin to dragging a dead horse along the tracks.
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