You have never known desperation until you are on the first off-peak Virgin train of the day from London to Manchester. Hundreds of people running through Euston Station and simultaneously screaming “Platform 14!!!!!”
Walking the length of 11 cars scouring for an empty unreserved seat. Minutes to departure and you’re standing in the aisle sweating and panicking because the conductor has mentioned “you may be standing the entire journey” over the speaker system. Frozen in fear.
A kind man offers you a seat and to help you with your suitcase. You’re still scared because seats are being claimed by rightful owners by the second. Two Japanese tourists are sitting on the floor as an older American woman is yelling “you all have a fucked up system”.
Your anxiety has now peaked because you’re convinced a fight is going to break out any second or the overcrowded train is going to run off the tracks. Then you look up and a woman is actually sitting on the upper luggage rack! 😳 (what civilised operation allows this though?)
Now you’re squeezed into the corner seat your neighbour kindly offered up. Not wanting to be ungrateful, you’re an hour and 30 minutes into the journey and have developed leg cramp and shoulder blade aches because you’re not moving. You’ve actually managed to contort yourself so you’re neatly folded against the fold out tables in hopes of avoiding any further body contact with the guy next you. Let’s face it, there’s no room for two full sized adults with a bit of meat on their bones to share two Virgin train seats comfortably.
Virgin Trains just won the UK west coast rail route contract again. But I want to know how they can continue to consciously operate a business in this manner? People of a certain age running in a frenzy like they’re being chased by a bull from Euston station lobby to the train only to stand for a two hour four minute train ride? And at least one man stood the entire journey.
Finally the train pulls into Manchester Piccadilly. But you don’t jump up to rush off the train. No, because you’re frozen in place with joint pain and the shock of having been confined in such a manner. No rejuvenation after hard slog at work, just pains and shock.
Btw, this is the complaint letter I sent to Phil Whittingham and Sir Richard Branson at Virgin Trains. (one of my many nicknames is the Letterist because of my penchant for writing complaint letters.)
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