I thought you might like to read a letter my colleague sent to First Capital Connect earlier this year....
As you may know I am a lover of all things sarcastic, and as such consider this to be the greatest thing written in many a moon....
From: C, R
Sent: 09 January 2009 12:45
Happy New Year.
As a long-standing customer of First Capital Connect I feel obliged to enquire how much longer I will be standing.
I appreciate commuting from Haywards Heath to London on your 7.23 Bedford service is unlikely to be the highlight of any of your customers' day.
Nevertheless, I feel obliged to draw your attention to the following.
Firstly, to my untrained eye it appears this train is up to four carriages shorter than other London-bound services.
Whilst I suspect providing an extra few carriages might be something you've already thought of, I felt I should mention it in case you have forgotten about the promised phased transfer of 86 class 319 trains to this service, aimed at reducing overcrowding by 2008. That's last year.
Secondly, you may have noticed that the weather this January has been on the cool side. I am well aware of the implications this has on delays on your service - have no fear, as I mentioned, I am no stranger to this commuting business and I accept this will mean delays. I do not have unrealistic expectations of FCC. Just low ones.
What I think might help is when the train arrives, they have some form of on-board heating, other than that which has been naturally formed by the huddle of standing passengers themselves, reminiscent of how emperor penguins keep warm during the fierce polar winter.
I know the trains have heating that can be switched on and off. I know this because in the summer it is on. I therefore suggest that the phasing is studied, possibly with a view to perhaps turning the heating off in the summer and on in the winter. Whilst this suggestion does not represent a net cost benefit to FCC, it might be something you'd like to consider at your next AGM?
I hope these suggestions might slightly improve the situation and thus prevent more of your customers believing that the only 100% reliable part of First Capital Connect is the fares increase each and every January.
Were it not for the fact that this latest increase was, once again, to cover 'the cost of improvements to the service' I do not feel it unreasonable to enquire when I might experience some of these improvements in return for my ever increasing contribution.