This is 21st Century train services in the largest city in Europe.
Saturday, 25 September 2004
Hopeless train station
Ok, railways in the UK are not the best in the world but sometimes you really have the impression they're taking the piss. I need to go to Gravesend this afternoon. Trains leave from Charring Cross station. I need to be there at 7pm (before is no use, after is too late). I thought the best way was to go to the station, check the timetables and get a return ticket from the vending machine. Sounds too simple and indeed it is. Charring Cross doesn't have any timetables displayed. The only way to know about time is to ask at the information counter, which happens not to be staffed today, or to ask at the ticket office. Good I think, I'll go to the ticket office and buy the ticket at the same time. Sounds too simple again. There are only 2 windows open at the ticket office and the queues are huge, mainly because half the automated ticket machines are out of change and the ones that do have change don't accept bank notes. So mostly everybody has to go to the ticket counter. Fantastic! It only took me half an hour to check the times and get my ticket, when I should have been able to do this in 5 minutes. How useless is that? Then, next to the window, you have a board that says "If you have complaints about this station and its services, contact:" Contact who? The rest of it is so faded that it has become impossible to read.