22 January 2008

It takes a lot to laugh ...

The train operator - criticised recently for shortcomings in its mathematics, when it calculated the 4.8 per cent increase in the price of season tickets this year and overcharged its "customers" by a reported £140 - has developed a game a little like "Chicken". "Customers" arriving to catch one train - say, the 0711, due to pull in to platform 4 - are advised that it will in fact arrive at 0715. This despite everything the web site showing as being on time earlier, and SMS messages being broadcast announcing, in that phrase coined by their legal department, a "full advertised service". 0715 is close enough to the 0720 from platform 2 (which is not admitted to be late) to create a dilemma.

We stand in the cold on the exposed platform 4, exchanging commuters' war stories to keep our spirits up, and the reported delay creeps inexorably higher. The 0711 is announced, but (at the insistence, no doubt, of the legal department again) only in terms of its being the next train at platform 4. Then the automated announcer heralds the arrival of the 0720, and a vast herd of commuters migrates down the stairs from platform 4, through the tunnel and up again to platform 2, just in time to see a train pull up alongside platform 4.

The 0720 has empty seats, though.

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