Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm sitting in the railway station

Chinley station has a fascinating history, a large platform, an interchange and a major junction between the Hope Valley line and the route to Stockport in one direction and the Marple loop in the other. Bored yet? I was last night when I was stranded there, freezing my nads off. Anyway, you can brush up on it all here. I got a train home from Sheffield, where I'd been working, and was advised to change at Chinley. The connecting train never arrived. There's a button on the unmanned platform instructing travellers to push for information. It puts you through to a call centre in India. Salim, who was lovely - this is not a rant at Indian call centres by the way, informed me and the one other traveller that the 18:55 had been cancelled due to staff shortages. The next train was 19:55. He even apologised like he meant it.

Here's the point of this. Globalisation and technology has created the means to gather information, but our shambolic infrastructure lacks the ability to deliver it effectively. Or rather, to have the sense to disseminate it. This is the major point of contention with morning and evening commuters. When delays occur no-one on the stations seems to be aware what is happening. What's the point of information that's available to a contact centre in India, but isn't available to the guard on the train that's just dropped us off at an unmanned village station in the peak district on a freezing cold night?

At the time I was cold and not a little angry. If this happens in future I now know where the local Chinese chippy and the local Conservative Club are for sustenance and shelter.

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