Monday, August 25, 2008

I say it as I see it

In some circles, National Express East Coast ("NXEC") has a pretty bad press.

NXEC operates a high speed train service up the east side of the UK from London Kings Cross to Scotland, with an offshoot to Leeds.

Over the weekend I've traveled by train on NXEC from London to Edinburgh and back.
  • On Friday we were six minutes late into Edinburgh, while last night we were seven minutes early back into London.
  • The trains were full, but the vast majority of seats were reserved. It was after all the busiest weekend of the year in Edinburgh, so no surprise there.
  • The trains were clean and tidy and each had 'litter pickers' walking up and down the train clearing away rubbish.
  • There were no grumpy staff - everyone seemed professional, polite and well organised.
  • Between Newcastle and Edinburgh there is some stunning scenery, though I will say that only a tiny proportion of passengers paid the slightest attention to the views. You also get a true feeling of the scale of Durham Cathedral when pulling in and out of that North-Eastern city.
All in all, a positive experience.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fast Ticket Machines out of use due to a recent spate of thefts

There is a gang (presumably) of thieves targeting the Chiltern Railways ticket machines in rural Buckinghamshire.

The news announcement about the extent of the problem is here.

All rather troublesome really (a) because this part of the country is generally pretty low on crime and (b) it's a huge inconvenience to passengers and the railway company. I hope they catch the buggers, else what's to stop them doing it again when the machines are fixed?

The queue for tickets was out of the door at Princes Risborough this morning - it'll be chaos there next Tuesday morning after the bank holiday weekend.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy...

I've had good value out of my Chiltern Railways season ticket today.

Trip (1) was an early morning visit to Northolt to get my hair cut. I wonder just how long I am going to keep commuting for that? My dentist is still there as well. A couple of one stop trips on the Central Line (I don't use it that much any more) and I even bumped into my boss on the train at South Ruislip on the way home. Not a total surprise as I did know he was tee-ing off at Ruislip this morning - he did look a bit more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed than I was feeling.

Trips (2) & (3) (a couple of shopping trips) then followed - there still seem to be lots of photographers out and about stalking the Virgin Trains. Oh and lots of people wearing Arsenal shirts on their way to the 12.45 kick-off against West Bromwich Albion. Apparently the trains from Birmingham were packed for that.

I'm off down to Hampshire now for the rest of the weekend, to get rained on (I think). Enjoy yours.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Replacement Trains... Again

Today there have been further engineering works on the West Coast Main Line, meaning that trains from London Euston cannot get past Rugby. Virgin Trains have once again been running an hourly service to and from Coventry by means of a maze like route through West London and then up along the Chiltern Railways routes. Further to my previous post, I've found this blog post which has marked the london end of the diversion route on a map.

Chiltern Railways (which services include trains from Birmingham to London Marylebone) have been running as many seven carriage trains as they can muster on their long distance route and they have been pretty busy.

London Marylebone is one of the smallest London terminus stations and it is feeling a little crowded at times. It also sits on just one underground line (the Bakerloo) with quite lengthy escalators to and from the platforms.

This morning the down escalator was broken down. What with it being peak holiday season and the large number of extra people using the station, there were a lot of people struggling down the very long central stairway with quite heavy bags and cases. I hope they get the escalator fixed soon.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

You Get Less for Murder

I knew it was coming, but I'd forgotten all about it.

There I was yesterday, at work minding my own business, when my boss walked up to me and said "Congratulations".

"For what?" (I didn't actually say that, because I knew.)

Twenty Five years working for the same company, that's what. I started off as a spotty 18 year old working up in Yorkshire, two weeks out of school. You can do the maths yourself, but here I am 25 years later working in the heart of the West End and, by and large, still enjoying it.

Over the years, the jobs, the company, technology and customer expectations have all changed dramatically.

The job security and satisfaction has enabled me to do lots, to see lots and to generally be happy.

I have traveled extensively abroad, around the UK and around London. I now don't quite live at the western extremities of the Central Line, but I do see it every day.

The company is actually very generous on these sorts of occasions: As well as the desk ornament thingy (pictured, but with the company branding smudged out), I also received a commemorative framed certificate, a bottle of champagne, a large box of posh chocolates plus a choice of really quite smart gifts from a rather natty catalogue. I was (and am) actually quite chuffed.

The actual anniversary was today - I wonder what I'll be doing in another 10 or 15 years?

BTW, congratulations SS on the 20.

CU later.