Thursday, June 22, 2006

Arriva - I didn't think I would

Dear Sir or Madam
I am just writing to thank you for the interesting journeys my partner and I had last week using your services. When I booked our tickets I expected an uneventful trip from Wolverhampton to Pwhelli and back, but there were surprises all along the way.
It began at the station, where I was told I didn't want the Pwhelli train, but the Aberystwyth one. When that train arrived, I noted it had two carriages, which made me raise an eyebrow as our reserved seats were on coach C. A quick look round on boarding saw no sign of any reserved seats, so my partner and myself found seats where we could, which meant being apart. But at least they were forward facing, which is what I had booked. That was until Shrewsbury , when the train changed direction, and they became backward facing. The next twist came when the conductor checked my tickets and told me we'd have to change at Machynlleth , which was news to me as I thought the outward journey was direct, and the only change would be on the return leg. The rest of the journey was relatively uneventful, though we were kept entertained by trying to decipher the driver's announcements, (as he seemed to be speaking with a sock over the microphone) and the jovial conductor (all the staff we met were helpful, cheerful and took time to talk. Frankly, they were better than the company deserves....)
The return journey a few days later was another matter.
It started off with good news. The train was a direct one, and almost empty, so we could settle in for the ride. The only blip would be a twenty minute wait at Machynlleth for the Aberystwyth train to meet up, which it duly did, and we set off once more, enjoying the stunning scenery. This was fortunate, as we got to view one particular landscape at Talerddig for half an hour because we were late and the train coming the other way had beaten us to the track. Then we were off again, but sadly not for long. At Welshpool station we ground to a halt once more, for the same reason. At least this time we could get out and stretch our legs on the platform, which was a relief, none more so than for the class of small schoolchildren who had joined at Machynlleth. One of the stewards handed them some much needed water, while the other absorbed the complaints as best he could. It seemed he had heard them many times before. After another half hour or so, we were off again. Could anything else go wrong? Of course it could. Approaching Shrewsbury, we heard the announcement that because of the delays, the train would be terminating here. But there was a Central train to our destination leaving in twenty minutes. So we went from a four carriage train to a two carriage one. Fortunately, I think the schoolchildren stayed at Shrewsbury, but it was still a crush, and not everyone got aboard. My partner managed to get a seat, while I stayed by the door with our luggage. To add the misery, the train was an all stopper practically all the way to New Street, which meant the joy of people trying to fight their way on and off. There was silver lining though, as it meant we by the door got a welcome blast of fresh air each time they opened. Finally, two hours ten minutes late, we reached our destination. Despite all this, we still count ourselves lucky. The lady who sat with us part of the way was heading for London...
I would have sent this earlier, but it's taken me awhile to strip out the abuse and swearing.....

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