Thursday, 9 May 2013

It Must Be Thursday: The Age Of The Train?


The ongoing saga of a weekly That-Was-The-Week-That-Was posting.
Commenting on things that caught my attention for better or for worse and left me shaking my fist at the sky and shouting "Whyyyy!!!" 
After all: until science brings us a better use for Thursdays - what else is there to do?



PIXIE: Hi yes, I'm trying to make an inquiry about season tickets

Incomprehensible Member Of Staff (IMOS): Yerrs, where were you heading

PIXIE: From my home to Central Smokey.

IMOS: Ah yes, you can buy two tickets from there, Ticket A the £Modestly rip-off price or Ticket D the £Extremely rip-off price

PIXIE: It's actually the two prices inbetween I'm trying to find out about - my search result on your site came up with Ticket B: £100 more than the Modest rip-off and Ticket C: £100 more again, but still less than the £extreme rip-off

IMOS: Ah yes, but Ticket B requires that your journey goes through or changes at Timbuktoo, whilst Ticket C requires that you go through change at Outer Mongolia

PIXIE: Well, yes - but that's what i'm trying to work out you see - because I was hoping that you could define "goes through" for me.

IMOS: Your train has to go through there

PIXIE: Yeeeees.....but here's the thing - There are two routes that I can see from my house - the Extremely Slow Train Company (ESTC) or the NeverHadSex Company (guessing that readers will probably work out who this company is).  Now ESTC takes about 2hrs to get to Central Smokey, but if I change at my nearest city for NHSC then i can get there in just over 1hr.  So: the NHSC route takes it THROUGH Timbuktoo, but it doesn't stop there - does that count

IMOS: Your train has to go through the station for the ticket to be valid

PIXIE (Slightly frazzled now): Yes, but can you define "goes through" - the train DOES "go through" the station - it just does so at 100 mph - does the train have to stop there, even if i remain on the train, for it to count as going through?

IMOS: No

PIXIE: No it doesn't?

IMOS: Yes, it does

PIXIE: So it does, or it doesn't?

IMOS: The train has to go through the station for the ticket to be valid

PIXIE: OK let me try a different tack then.  Ticket price A only allows me to go on ESTC routes and nothing else - therefore it is the cheapest price yes?

IMOS: Yes

PIXIE: Great, finally some clarity.  B-UT Ticket Price B allows me to get on any train SO LONG AS it goes via Timbuktoo - whatever that actually means - right?

IMOS: Right

PIXIE: AAAH, but you see - the only train that will go through my local stops and stop at Timbuktoo is the ESTC, and the only connection i can get from there to Central Smokey is also run by ESTC - so what you're effectively telling me then is that I'm paying an extra £100 for the privilege of catching exactly the same train, yes?

IMOS: The train has to go through the station for the ticket to be valid

PIXIE: You know, i used to have a toy talking robot dog as a kid that had more stock phrases than you do.  OK - so ticket price C means I have to go via Outer Mongolia, but that otherwise I can catch any train yes?

IMOS: Yes

PIXIE: But the problem here is that the only train to Outer Mongolia won't get me to Central Smokey till nearly midday and has to change at three other locations - so now you're expecting me to pay £200 extra for an even more useless ticket?

IMOS:  The £extreme rip-off train ticket does allow you to catch any train

PIXIE: Yes, but that's over £300 more per month than the ESTC for what, with changes in service, is effectively a 15 minute time difference in journey per day.  Which is why I'm trying to get you to define "goes through" for me.  If it means "must stop at" then it should say "must stop at" so that people with second languages can clearly understand what is being said.  Buuut - if it means "goes through" - IE merely has to pass through the station but doesn't actually have to stop whilst in the process of doing so - then I can have the option of switching to the NHSC service and save myself some time - so please, for the love of God, can you just tell me does the phrase on your website "must go through" translate as "must stop at" or not???

IMOS: The train has to go through the station for the ticket to be valid

Cue sounds of muttered, but still copious, swearing and the sound of a disconnect

11 comments:

Lydia said...

Now I am frustrated myself! This is an interesting example of train travel there, and news to me. The whole thing sounds like one big mix-up and would make such a great stand-up comedy routine!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Lydia - someone worked out a long time ago that the British aren't British without having something to grumble about, and ever since then every major service industry has been designed accordingly - or that's how it feels anyway

Stephen Hayes said...

The train has to go through the station for the ticket to be valid? What the heck?

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Stephen - i eventually got a sensible answer from a Man At A Desk - who basically said that the system was full of prices that just made no sense and that when anyone asks at the desk they just don't bother to quote them

Makes you wonder why they advertise them in the first place, but still...

Argent said...

I'm guessing the ticket inspectors themselves don't know exactly what's meant to be valid on any given train on any given day/time of day. Just hope they're in a good mood when they look at the ticket. Don't think we had this nonsense when it just British Rail - but maybe we did, I can't remember. Pity it can't like a taxi service where you only pay for what you use. So, you could swipe in on the train, swipe out when you get off, do the same with subsequent trains and then just get charges at the end to a nationally-agreed tarrif. You'd have to be careful not to get on the wrong train, obviously.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

argent - the london oyster card does exactly a very similar thing, you buy credit, swipe and presumably it sees how much you've used what and charges you accordingly

The Bug said...

That whole exchange was VERY "Who's on First" - hilarious for me since I'm not trying to get a train anywhere.

Argent's idea makes too much sense - I'm sure that "London Oyster" (whatever that is) will quit doing it forthwith!

Fireblossom said...

As Nilsson once sang, "if Thursday was a boat, I bet it'd sink."

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Friko said...

Erm Pixie, what exactly is it that you don’t understand?

It’s as clear as mud to me. As nobody knows anyway, get on the most convenient train and brazen it out.

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