A sign of the (train) times

I’ve been trying to work out why the trains in England are so bad. The trains at home aren’t good either, but they also aren’t really that important. In England they are an essential part of the economic infrastructure, and they are frightenly bad.

The first problem I noticed was the price. I’ve been working in Swindon for the last few weeks (without Net access, but that’s another story), and I’ll be here until Christmas. So, I thought, Swindon is not too far from London; I’ll go and visit the London Perl Mongers. But the return ticket was going to cost 60 quid! At first I thought this was a mistake on my part: maybe I had selected a season ticket. No, that was a standard return. It’s cheaper to hire a car for a day.

I did discover later that there are /saver/ return tickets available if you book in advance, so I might do that.

The second problem I noticed was the timetable: it isn’t related to the actual times of the trains. I suspect that the rail companies have been brainwashing their passengers, as some people seemed to think I was weird for expecting the timetable to be relevant.

Then there are the displays on the platforms. At 09:40 the display showed: “current time is 09:40; the 09:10 train is expected at 09:36”. It might as well have said “we have no idea what we’re doing”. Surely a better system would at make sure that the expected arrival time was in the future.

I’m glad I only need to use the trains twice a week.