10 January 2007

Transport issues

The new train timetable, which has now been current for a month, bizarrely removed two peak-hour trains from Didcot in the morning and introduced a service that is what the railway company calls technically "full and standing" before it reaches us. Those of us who used to take the 0717 or 0723 are now condemned to take the 0707, and what happens at 0736 when the next viable train to London arrives, goodness knows - I don't wish to be around to find out.
Between Christmas and New Year, when about eight out of ten commuters were still on holiday, extra unscheduled trains appeared and picked up some of the handful of passengers. (I even wrote the train operator an e-mail congratulating them on fixing the problem with the timetable, which was undeliverable, fortunately given its prematurity.) For the first week after New Year, when estimates indicated that 3 million Britons (not all of them Didcot commuters) were still on holiday, the early train had plenty of capacity. Once everyone returned to work, however, the 0707 lost a carriage somewhere, and for two days now has offered standing room only from Didcot.
In standard class, that is. First class still has plenty of seats, and not for the first time my mind turns to the idea of upgrading my ticket - at a premium of approximately 50 per cent, offset by free newspapers (titles that I wouldn't normally dream of buying) and coffee (more valuable).
Another irritant is that the radio signal along the Great Western line isn't strong enough. Having invested in a personal DAB radio in the hope that I could listen to the Today programme on my way to work, I find that until the train is well into London the BBC's digital signal is useless (so Radio 3 offers no alternative) and FM not much better. But Classic FM seems to be pretty clear all the way - another example of the inferior ousting its betters.

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