05 April 2013

Time was

The railway operator which claims me as its "customer", for which privilege I pay indecent sums of money, treats me and fellow passengers like idiots. I am particularly incensed by their habit of describing as "on time" trains which manifestly are not. The 1016 to Paddington is late if does not leave at 1016: it is therefore late (meaning "not on time" to everyone except train operators) if it pulls in at 1016, later still if it is not even in sight at that time.
Today the 1016 halted as the digital clock clicked over to 1020, and almost at the same instant the display changed from "on time" to "expected at 1020". So I don't feel in the least bit patronised.
 Unfortunately the late arrival, compounded by slow running to Reading, meant that despite a sprint through the wonderful new station from a distant new platform all the way to Platform 2 I missed my connection. I asked a couple of railway employees for guidance, as the next train to Waterloo (from which I intended to alight at Twickenham) was half-an-hour later and I was already behind schedule. The senior one suggested, eventually, a train to Paddington then transfer by underground to Waterloo ("but I can't guarantee the Tube" - as if anyone could!): I needed the 1045 departing from ... "About Platform 53, I suppose?" I suggested, referring to the large number of new platforms at Reading. He thought that was hilarious, and undertook to walk with me in that direction so we could continue talking about the new facilities.
On the huge new bridge, all high picture windows and metalwork with myriad escalators which my new friend told me seem to be causing rather a lot of falls, I observed that it would not be long until the space became filled with shops and food retailers. Indeed, he told me that many passengers wanted a cup of coffee, and he was pleased that Starbucks would be opening soon. "Oh," I said, "I thought you said coffee." He thought that was hilarious too. I was on a roll.


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