Monday, 16 July 2012

The South West Trains Montage of Misery 7th - 16th July 2012

Thank you to so many of you for continuing to send me your pictures for the South West Trains Montage of Misery. As I always say, this isn't just a place for me to moan, I would rather it was a collective way for us all to document just how rubbish South West Trains are.

If this is your first viewing, it is a Montage of all that is crepe about South West Trains. If you're wondering why I keep using the term 'South West Trains', it is an attempt to get Google to notice me more. Hey, google, over here, cooee!

Back to subject, this week's South West Trains Montage of Misery documents:

- A tongue in cheek protest by cycling commuters. (Last Monday, South West Trains went from saying no non-folding bikes AT ALL would be allowed to travel during the Olympics, to completely changing their mind by Friday. Most amusing). Would a kids bike be allowed to travel?
- The state of certain station platforms. More Chessington World of Tip Juice, then adventures
- Overcrowding, or what we now like to call 'normality' on South West Trains
- Overrunning engineering works. Which now happen so regularly they should just be called 'daily engineering works'.
- People in Ashford, Surrey wanted to take the train and go and see the Olympic Torch. South West Trains didn't duly oblige.
- The continuing Curious Incident of the South West Trains cars in Weybridge car park (has been going on since March, see original blog post here for more info)

As always, all pictures are really much appreciated. The only ones I do not publish are 'personal' ones (so any about staff doing the wrong thing, or those that focus solely on an individual. This isn't because I don't think individuals should be held to account, but more because I don't think it is my place to be the one to hold them there.

Any new ones to add for the next time, please either email me or tweet me @my6percent

Friday, 6 July 2012

The South West Trains Montage of Misery 3rd - 6th July

Wow. Even the Montage of Misery appears to be attracting some love from you. Thank you for continuing to send these through. There are some absolute crackers. So many, in fact that I've had to forego the usual 'once a fortnight' rule for new Montages and put up a new one only 4 days after the last.

This one documents:

  • The continued and worsening severe overcrowding (many having to stand for over an hour on a daily basis)
  • The issue of bikes - should they be allowed at peak time? What services can they be brought on? Should they use up 4 seats when others are standing?
  • Great shot found by @jdgwarren of the goose on the loose - a few months old, but amusing nevertheless.
  • The continued problem of the unusable car park, which has been going on since March (see this blog for more info The Curious Incident of the Trucks in the Car Park)
  • And, for your amusement, a most enormous beanbag

If this is the first time you've looked at this, it's a montage of all that is shockingly awful about South West Trains. You go on them though, so you probably know this already. If you have any you'd like to add to the next round (which by this rate will come tomorrow!), please do send them to me: @my6percent or email me at

I want to ride my Bicycle: A guest blog by @SimmoTheGypo

South West Trains: On the issue of bikes

Another guest blog for your delectation. They seem to be more regularly sent to me nowadays, which is great, because this isn't just meant to be me ranting away (as much as it looks that way). It is meant to be a place where you can share your opinions on South West Trains.

Let's face it, they are completely and utterly sh*tbags, in terms of reliability, space and schedule. The bright spots being many of their staff, who we've all (thanks to twitter) had the chance to converse/disagree/agree with. Shame their senior management, in their Ivory Towers, don't pay more attention, because one day, this abonimable level of service will come back to bite them. One day...

Anyway, enough of my witterings, here's @SimmoTheGypo guest blog:

Commuter cycling has never been more popular.  Brompton, the classic commuter cycle maker has seen sales rocket in recent years; and Evans, the high-end bike shop, has seen expansion fueled by rich city commuters, often buying expensive, bespoke cycles. The London Cycling Campaign, a lobby group, has 11,000 members.
London, thanks to this fashion, the ‘Boris Bikes’ scheme, concern about the environment, the cost of the London Underground, and events like the London bombings; resembles Beijing in parts, with many more cyclists on the road.  On the whole this movement has been benign, however, friction often occurs.  Cyclists, who flaunt road rules, frequently come into conflict with other road users and pedestrians. The rise of the militant cyclist – with head cams and loud cycle warning horns designed to scare the wits out of pedestrians who have the temerity to cross the road – have alienated some. Cyclists come under frequent attack and are subject to aggressive abuse. Around 18 cyclists are killed each year in London, although this is miniscule when compared to the number of journeys made.
This has led to more cyclists on the road and a rise in the number of commuters travelling to work with their bikes. For years we have been used to the discreet city cyclist, with a folded up Brompton, rubbing along quite nicely with their fellow commuters. For a while this was the only way to bring cycles on some trains, certainly during peak hours.  If full-sized cycles were allowed, they were traditionally housed in the carriage used for the post.  But with the advent of new ‘high-density’ rolling stock, the ability to store bikes without affecting passengers has diminished.
I travel on South West Trains (SWT), and use their Class 444 Desiro class trains.  These have space for 3 cycles in two carriages. On peak time trains there is often more than this. On one occasion I witnessed 6 cycles in this area, and the passageway to other carriages totally blocked. On other services, with different rolling stock, the situation is worse, with the area with wall seats taken up totally by bikes.  Cross Country’s busy Southampton to Reading route is frequently rammed with cyclists and their full sized bikes. This abuse of bike rules appears to be repeated on other lines and train operating companies (TOCs) thanks to the anecdotal evidence on my6percent’s and SWT’s Twitter feeds.
This results in comfort and safety issues for the majority of passengers who do not take their bikes to work. Furthermore, the space given over for bike storage could be converted to seating, perhaps leading to around 20 seats per formation, thereby reducing overcrowding. However, this is unlikely to happen: TOC’s see allowing bikes as part of their PR on green issues; cyclists are a vocal lobby, and will argue strongly against any reduction in on-train bike facilities.
There is something Network Rail and the TOCs can do about this. Policing the problem is an obvious way to get cyclists to comply. Pre-booking could help, especially on peak-time services. The train manager, or guard, who is responsible for the safety of the train, should be allowed to order cyclists to leave if they overcrowd or abuse bike provision.
Better provision could be made at terminals and feeder stations for bike storage and security.  London is fairly flat, and you do not need a top of the range bike to get around. If cyclists left their “home” bike at their origin station, and had a cheap bike kept at a terminal, or used a free Boris Bike, then the only issue would be for passengers dealing with the BO of their cycling co-travelers.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

My friend's rant about public transport

My friend raises some good points about the shitness of UK transport. Thought I'd share. I called it a rant, but I am reliably informed it is in fact,  a "carefully considered and calmly positioned polemic":

"Now, transport. I like it on the way into Berlin where it's always on time and you get the trumpetty announcements, and in Vietnam where the guard gives you noodles. I think it's AWFUL in the UK how we have to pay so much for such shite customer service (all apart from Lorraine at Liverpool Lime St who as previously documented, is my number one friend in the world). Also, shite product (crowded, smelly trains) and godawful pricing structures where workers who RELY on trains are penalised by paying the highest fares and having the worst delays. 

And if you dare to book a ticket on the same day as travel (who would do such a thing??! I ask you) you have to pay a sum that would otherwise get you an overnight stay in a 5* hotel. And it seems unless you're leaving London (those journeys always seem to go smoothly, hmmm), any other journey could get cancelled and you're thrown on a shitty bus at the drop of a hat - if you'd wanted a bus you would have booked National Express and paid a quarter of the price. 

And trains always have to wait for ages "for a platform" outside stations like New Street and Derby for ages - like, it's run to a timetable, do they not KNOW the train is coming or what??! And between small towns there is rubbish coverage. And you can't get phone signal. And the worst of it is, the train companies know they have a monopoly so they have no need to improve!!! Rah. Thank goodness for #Fridayshoes."

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

South West Trains - Montage of Misery - 20th June to 3rd July

Squeezing on South West Trains, as usual

Here is the South West Trains Montage of Misery. Originally created to show a couple of photos of just how crepe South West Trains service was back at in March. It is now July and instead of improving has got steadily worse. Thank goodness they're not going to increase our fares soon (above inflation; I bet you cannot guess by what percent), that would seem grossly unfair.

This fortnight's offering of photographic narrative include: The Ghost of South West Trains and a man so used to not getting a seat, that he's taken to carrying a stool with him. A stool. Yes.

As always, if you have any to add, just send 'em to me for the next batch: @my6percent for twitter or for pigeon post.