“ In rail transport, a train consists of rail vehicles that move along guides to transport freight or passengers from one place to another. The guideway (permanent way) usually consists of conventional rail tracks, but might also be monorail or maglev. Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate locomotive, or from individual motors in self-propelled multiple units. Most trains are powered by diesel engines or by electricity supplied by trackside systems. Historically the steam engine was the dominant form of locomotive power through the mid-20th century, but other sources of power (such as horses, rope (or wire), gravity, pneumatics, or gas turbines) are possible. „
Its very rare that Ill travel by train; living in Norfolk anywhere is easily accessible by car without any major hold-ups. But when in London it is the best form of transport. Now I have no real gripes with the trains in general. This is more about the utter stupidity Ive experienced with South Eastern trains over a pretty trivial matter.
Back in April I was in London for a music video shoot. I was staying in South East London and needed to get to North London. It was an early start so I made my way to the local station to get the 5.45 train. However this had been cancelled but I still had plenty of time for the next one. At this time in the morning you have to get your tickets from the machine. I got a one-day travel card that cost around £7, I had coins in my pocket to cover it but the machine also took notes. So I popped in a tenner, selected my ticket and was met with a whirring and then nothing. I had no ticket, I pressed the button to return my money but nothing happened. After a phone call to the advice line I was told that one would be at the station until 8.30. This was no good to me so I was advised to make my journey and return to the ticket office the next day in order to get my money back. Apparently the machines have a log and it should be £10 over on that day. Needless to say I wasnt holding my breath.
The next day I returned to claim back my hard earned, but of course it wasnt possible, as the machine had not been emptied yet. So I left my phone number and someone would contact me on the Monday when I was back in Norwich. Guess what? No one gave me a call so I had to call them. Guess What? Yep, there was no sign of the £10! Needless to say I wasnt surprised and was advised to write a letter with a copy of my ticket. Nearly four weeks went by and got a reply, enclosed was £10 in rail travel vouchers. Now if I had been a frequent user of the trains then this would have been the end of the matter. Unfortunately Im not and the chance of using those vouchers in twelve monthss was slim.
So another call was made to their customer service department. The chap on the phone dithered a little and said to me that the machines have a tendency to spit out the notes at another time of the day, someone had probably took it! However he then proceeded to tell me that it wasnt policy to refund money. I stated to him that the vouchers were no good for me and that it wasnt my fault their ticket machines had a knack of coughing up tenners. After more deliberations it was again said that policy was not to refund money. I was then told I could take it further to the standards commission. I was given a phone number and told to log a case. After sitting in a queue I got through to someone who seemed more clued up, they took my details and said they would call South Eastern and get the matter resolved. The next day I had an e-mail saying they would refund the money if I returned the vouchers. This is what I did; I then heard nothing for ages. On June 28th I called South Eastern again and was told that a letter had been done that day and I should receive it shortly. Two weeks later and Im still waiting. I called them today and youll never guess what? Yes a letter hadnt been done at all; the other girl must have got June 28th confused with May 13th.
Now Im told that the customer service department will follow it up. No doubt Ill be calling them again in two weeks time after Ive not received anything. You might say its only a tenner but for its the principal. Why should I give South Eastern another ten pounds and then have to go through a load of crap just to get it back.
If this is the standard of customer service offered by South Eastern then I really do despair. There is no need to complicate the simple things, I just hope they give more care an attention to their actual trains.
I lived in Amsterdam for 18 months and used the public transport system everyday to travel to and from work (near the airport). I do not believe how anyone can fault the system. The trains are all new and most importantly, clean! The ticketing system is easy. You can buy a ticket for anywhere in Holland (and possibly down to Brussels) from machines in all the ticket halls, if you have the correct change or a card. The staff in the ticket booths are extremely helpful and as everyone speaks english (some on, admit it we English are not generally known as a nation of language scholars!) it makes the whole process a easy enjoyable one. The price was very reasonable too. With a return ticket to the Airport (15/20 km's?) being 11.5 guilders (approx £3.50) Not bad when you consider the price it costs to use the underground in London! But the most useful thing about the stations was that on every announcement board on the platforms it would tell you exactly when the train was coming in. If it was running a couple of minutes late it would say so, so you knew exactly when the train was gong to be there and if you had the chance to try a different platform you could. Therer were always a multitude of trains to choose from, with trains leaving the airport every 15 minutes for Amsterdam. I can not recommend the transport system enough and am now going to do the same thing for the tram / bus system, hope you found this useful :-)
I never forget when I first got out of the airport, saw sigs everywhere for the trains, and once I bought the ticket and got on, next minute I saw mself over a motorway inamsterdam, without even realising the train moving! It was amazing! I never seen a train that smooth! you don't feel it at all! the trains are quite new and its so nice and clean inside! The other thing is the way they sell tickets.... you can buy a ticket for both train and what they call 'train taxi'! It's realy god, because wherver you are, you just phone up the taxi operator and they give you a lift to the station with your train taxi ticket. you feel at home, everyone speaks english, and it's really cool! Transport in general is excellent, and its never busy, because there are many ways of traveling to choose from!