Newest Review: ... delays occur ,mostly at rush hour when everyone just wants to get home! If I had a pound for the amount of 'technical difficulties' I have... more
hell on earth
Member Name: robqueen
Date: 01/12/01, updated on 06/12/01 (769 review reads)
Advantages: regular service
Disadvantages: if they're running
I have the misfortune to commute from Southport to Liverpool every day by Merseyrail. 'Why don't you move?', you may ask, 'if it's so bad'. Well, trust me, moving isn't an option, as it would only mean that my wife would have the same journey in reverse. And driving isn't an option. So there are my negative reasons for using Merseyrail, but what of the positive reasons? Well, at #75 per month for a 40-mile round trip, it's the cheapest way to get to work. And, at a 40-minutes scheduled journey, it should be the fastest way. If it ever ran to schedule, that is. Also, at least I'm not adding to the pollution on this planet.
It's very easy to knock local transport. Seemingly, wherever you go, the locals will tell you that their local transport system is the worst in the world. So here, I would like to give you a few examples of bad service from 'Miseryrail', to illustrate my view that they really do provide a poor service.
Firstly, the coaches. The current rolling stock is at least 30 years old. As far as comfort goes, they're not too bad, at least when they're not overcrowded. But these coaches are really beginning to show their age. It's rare to get a coach where the heating system works properly. Either it's boiling hot or freezing cold, and nothing in between. I often arrive at work drenched in sweat, even at this time of year. Not nice. And because of the age of the coaches, it's not uncommon for them to break down in mid-journey, meaning that all the passengers get thrown off at some god-forsaken place, only to try to cram into the next train, which by now will resemble one of those trains in India that you see on the TV.
Merseyrail have an extremely poor record of timeliness. The morning trains seem to be reasonably reliable, but by the afternoon, it's not uncommon for me to have a whole week where every train runs late. And if you're really unlucky, Mers
eyrail will decided that this late-running train's passengers have already been annoyed, so it won't matter if they annoy us just a little more. So there'll be an ominously long stop at one of the stations, followed by the announcement 'This train is going out of service. Would all passengers please leave the train. Another train will be along in 2 miutes'. It's always '2 minutes', but it's very rare that the next train actually does come along in 2 minutes. And when it does, you end up with 9 carriages worth of people crammed into 3. A great way of getting to know your neighbour better, but I'd rather not, thanks! This is particularly annoying to those like me who are going to the end of the line. If they'd only let us stay on, then we'd be there quicker than usual. But no, it's out in the wind and rain you go!
The worst aspect of Merseyrail is their customer service department. I came into contact with them one Friday morning. The train stopped at Hightown, and after 10 mins we got the standard 'everybody off' message. After half an hour or so, they told us the reason for this - a train had broken down further up the line. But a bus replacement had been laid on, so no need to worry! An hour and a half later, this fabled bus replacement still hadn't showed up, so I began to think of escaping. Unfortunately, Hightown is a little off the beaten track, so you can't get a bus from there. And none of the public phone boxes had taxi numbers in them. So I started to walk towards the bypass, where I knew there would be buses. I walked the miles or so to the bypass, only to discover that, while the buses do indeed go down there, there aren't actually any stops until you get into Formby, a further mile away. So I carried on walking, and eventually got into the outskirts of Formby, where I was lucky enough to flag down a taxi who was filling up at a garage. My taxi fare came to a tenner, but it
was worth it to escape from the station after 2 hours. In total, it took me 4 hours to get back home that day. So I decided to fill out the complaints form and ask for my taxi fare back. I just couldn't believe the arrogance of the letter I got back. They said 'if you'd waited long enough, a bus would have come'. So 2 hours isn't long enough, apparently! They said 'no-one from Merseyrail told you to get a taxi, so we're not paying for it'. I see, so I have to get their permission if I want to get home. And the final straw, they said 'Blah blah blah passengers charter blah blah blah - if fewer than 92% of our trains run on time, then you will be entitled to a 5% reduction on your monthly pass'. Well whoop-de-doo! That amounts to a whopping 3 quid! And since they fiddle the figures, they manage to make their targets quite often anyway. Gee, thanks for nothing, Merseyrail!
Having said all this, when they're running on time, they do provide a reasonable service, but it only takes a bit of rain and they just can't cope with it.
I'm sure there are worse services in this country than Merseyrail, but I've yet to have the pleasure of experiencing them!
Addition - 5/12/01.
Just the other day, I came across yet another example of caring, sharing Merseyrail. My normal, 6-carriage train was cancelled, and the 6-car train, which was sitting patiently at the station, was split into 2 3's for the next journey. So effectively we had 9 car's worth of people crammed into 3, with heating set to 'blast furnace' level. Unsurprisingly, a woman fainted. This made the local press, because of the disruption to services while we waited for an ambulance. And because it was a slow news day, I expect. Anyway, a quote in the report from a Merseyrail spokesman said 'We have had no reports of overcrowding'. Not 'Sorry about that' or anything, but 'No, there wasn'
t a problem'. Rather than admit they might be providing a less-than-perfect service, they prefer to deny there's a problem. As punishment, I vote that the bosses of this useless company be forced to ride their own trains at rush hour for a week. That'll show 'em!
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