‘Catching’ The Train – If You Can
The rhetoric of train travel is that it removes the worry from travel, providing an efficient and comfortable way to get around. This may well be true once one’s actually aboard; but first you have to get a ticket. And then you have to be sure you can get to the station on time. These tasks can be daunting.
For reasons various it wasn’t possible for me to order my train tickets on-line a few days ago. So I made the mistake of thinking the easiest thing would be to call in at Liverpool’s Lime Street Station Advance Bookings Office.
It’s one way to pass half an hour …..
Long queues and few staff
The queue in the (rather grey) booking office had about thirty people in it, and probably a third of the ticket booths were open. The intending passengers, representing a pretty wide range of the British population, included folk with elderly relatives and folk with small children. All stood resignedly awaiting their turn, the queue they
formed slowly weaving up and down between the barrier ropes.
One small girl, possibly four years old, started the wait happily dancing around the booking office, and ended it outside in the main concourse, sobbing under the silent care of her grim-faced young father, whilst her mother battled at the ticket kiosk with the baby, the pushchair and the arrangements for their travel.
Nowhere was there any seating, let alone any corner with play equipment for younger children, or perhaps a water dispenser.
At last however I was able to procure my (oh-so-expensive) tickets and, deeply grateful that I don’t have to work there, to escape the depressing ‘facility’ whereby one secures train bookings in Liverpool Lime Street.
But that turned out not to be the end of the story. The station has
been surrounded by the Big Dig for several weeks now – and things are getting worse. The local papers that afternoon were full of messages from the Powers That Be to the effect that we should not drive to Lime Street because of the continuing snarl-ups. The evidence that day of the chaos around the station added serious substance to this advice.
Don’t let the train take the strain
So there we have it. Those without the internet are faced with a long and uncomfortable wait to book their tickets, and in any case people may not be able to approach the station by car / cab to be dropped off.
We have mentioned the perils of local train travel in Merseyside before. And it hasn’t got any better as a customer experience. (Not encouraging for Liverpool’s 2008
celebrations, is it?)
No wonder that carbon emissions are still going up, whilst the Mersey economy at least remains challenged. Has no-one here seen the connection between ‘good’ train-related experiences and ‘good’ economic and environmental impacts?