Monday 25 January 2010

Trainspotting with First Capital Connect

Oh how times change, in the 1950's, trainspotting was quite a popular hobby for bored young lads. Many would merrily make their way to Mill Hill Broadway Station to watch all manner of impressive Steam locomotives speed through, hauling all manner of carriages and goods. Services with names as glamourous as "The Thames Clyde Express" and "The Manchester Pullman" whizzed through. Boys would re-enact these scenes of mechanical majesty in their front room with Hornby train sets.

As technology moved on and boys got Bicycles, TV's, Scalextrix, games consoles, DVD's, IPODS and DS's the appeal of standing on a railway station, waiting to see if a train came along faded. I've used the service at Mill Hill Broadway for most of my working life and I can't recall the last time I saw anyone standing, waiting with a notebook. Admittedly the modern fleets of trains are rather ugly square box shapes and are rather hard to tell apart. The commuter services we have to put up with have rather more mundane names such as the 21:17 to Sutton. I thought that the days of standing on platforms, taking pictures of trains passing through had passed. I was wrong.

First Capital Connect have re-invented the art of trainspotting. Websites are springing up, 10 to the dozen detailing train movements. Clips of trains pulling in and out of stations proliferate. Even more curiously, it's not young boys who are driving this, but adults of both sexes. What on earth could possibly make the movements of these dowdy unglamrous modern people shifters so interesting?

Here is just one of the better clips highlighting the problem. This was posted originally in June 2008 which graphically demonstrates that the problems with this mob are nothing new.

Sadly this hasn't been encouraged by the fantastic service provided by First Capital Connect. It hasn't been stoked by sexy new paint schemes for the trains, luxury coaches, where commuters are pampered. Nope, this mushrooming interest in train movements has been generated out of desparation. How many times can you arrive at work late? How many times can you watch trains packed to the brim pull into your station and pull out again, before you are literally driven insane. How many journeys home must you endure where you get more physical contact with your fellow passengers than you get with your spouse in a month of Sundays? How many times must you apologise to your boss?

I had a quick look through the latest messages on the "I Hate First Capital Connect FACEBOOK page". It looks to me as if the sexes are evenly represented. All races, colours and creeds are represented. Everyone is sick of First Capital Connect. We All hate them. If you'd told half the people leaving messages on this page a year ago that they'd become obsessed with train timetables and movements a year ago, they;d say you were bonkers. That is just how far First Capital Connect have pushed us.  There is a report in the Edgware and Mill Hill Times that FCC are allowing commuters to "grill the managers". I was quite excited about this. I thought "I'll bring my barbeque tongs and a couple of beers", but I was disappointed to see that we weren't going to be able to roast them over a hot fire. We can simply ask them for their latest set of lame excuses. Doubtless a PR company has said "Now the worst of the disruption is over, we can pacify the mugs and keep fleecing them".

Well I don't want to "meet the managers" I want to sack them. I want to see the back of this useless company and it's lame excuses. The temperature must be turned up and they must be removed. If you haven't already signed it, sign the petition at the side of this blog. Join the facebook group. Email all of your friends and ask them to do the same.Over 4,500 people have now signed up and it is growing every day. Write to your MP and tell them you'll vote for the other bloke unless they support the campaign AND IT'S SUCCESSFUL. Even better write to Transport Minister Lord Adonis and tell him

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