A Grand Central Vision For Train Journeys

For the umpteenth time this week the 08:09 was delayed from Ipswich. One seem to make use of some kind of rolling update on their live departure boards. The ‘due’ time increases by one minute every time it gets to within 30 seconds of the train supposedly arriving. Intensely frustrating and, once again, there’s no mention over the PA system as to why the delay has occurred or what their doing about resolving it. I wish that train operators would introduce a bit more transparency and honesty into their customer experience.

One company [excuse the pun] that is doing something about the customer experience (or at least says it will) is newboy
Grand Central Trains. I have to say that I was quite fond of GNER through many experiences travelling to-from my alma mater but I would agree that competition on this line would be a good thing. Top of their customer-centric agenda (read: press release) has been the “Can’t Find A Seat? Have A Refund” message and, slightly lower on the agenda, a simplification of fares ensuring more customers pay lower fares.

I get the feeling that as the network infrastructure improves (it is isn’t it?) then rail companies are going to have to stop complaining about delays and service issues being out of their control and begin to provide the sort of experience that passengers have dreamed about for years. When Harley Davidson execs summarise “What we sell is the ability for a 43-year-old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him.” I have to wonder what ‘one’ and other customer-service-blind operators are really selling – are they selling an experience of effortless, productive and comfortable travel between clean, efficient and breath-taking stations? No, and this is the vision that they must strive to attain else we continue to endure something quite, quite different.

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