I’m writing this on the 19.12 from Reading to Swansea – delivering me (hopefully) at ReesAcres Cymru en route. I have just enjoyed a excellent day at the Henley Regatta, many thank to my hosts. As ever my PA coordinated flights, trains and hotels for me, bless you. I was booked on the 10.30 from Reading, due to alight at the first stop, Twyford, to change for Henley.
GWR are generally an excellent rail provider (to use the contemporary biz speak). I won’t mention the third world toilets on my current train – what is it about train lavs. that make them so difficult to keep functioning? I’m sure Brunel would have sorted them out had he lived beyond the tender age of 53.
Back to Reading, the train was delayed until 10.40 – no problem I thought.
It’s a journey I have made a couple of times before and was surprised that I was able to spend so long reading the complimentary newspaper before we came to a halt at….Slough. We had passed through Twyford, Maidenhead, Taplow and Burnham, all fine places in their own way but not when you are viewing them from the unintended inside of a rail carriage.
As you can imagine I wasn’t on my own, there were probably 50-60 others making the same journey. When we alighted at Slough we wondered what had happened and asked the GWR guard on the platform.
After ensuring the train left safely to continue its journey to Ealing Broadway he retreated to his customer service bunker to investigate. It turned out that the train was 10 minutes late leaving Reading and so, in order to make up time, they decided to omit the four scheduled halts at Twyford, Maidenhead, Taplow and Burnham. Presumably the “no stops” have less of a weighting in their corporate KPIs than late arrivals.
We duly crossed over the tracks to the other platform and caught the next train back in the other direction, hoping that no reason arose to leave out our scheduled stops. It didn’t.
I understand that s**t happens and decisions must be made to catch up with schedules. I understand that even the best of railways have problems – and GWR are pretty good as UK railways go.
What I don’t understand is why nobody had the good manners to apologise to us for what had happened. To carry on with the in carriage visual display that “the next stop is Twyford” even when we were parked at Slough. For nobody to bother to make an announcement that “we are sorry for the cock up and if you cross to platform 5 you can continue your journey”.
As it was we were all p’d off with the lack of communication and apologies.
When something goes wrong – apologise. It diffuses the situation. It helps right the wrong. It leaves less of a bad taste.