Thursday, April 07, 2005

Thu 7 April - 50-50...

At 06:26 we receive an SMS to say that the 06:59 is cancelled. So the 07:14 is now doubled up and is also running about five minutes late. As usual, not enough time to catch the earlier train.

This is the bit that Connex doesn't seem to comprehend - sure it's helpful to know the train you might've been aiming to catch is not running. But many people would prefer to catch an earlier train than the cancelled one if possible, since then they won't be jammed into a train that has double the normal load. It seems so obvious, yet we rarely receive enough notice to do so. I'm sending an email to the guy in Connex who manages this to let him know that the service is still not really working for us.

Meanwhile back at the station, those who have been waiting since before 07:00 are looking less than happy – probably because they know we will be fairly packed in now. Somehow we manage to lose another five minutes along the way so arrive at Flinders Street about 10 minutes late. That's one that makes it into the stats as not being "on time"!

Leaving a bit early as we were going out this evening. I aim for the 17:27 and it runs on time. That's the second on time (as opposed to "on time") train this week and it's only Thursday.

As well as this blog, I've been running a bit of a campaign to encourage people to complain about the many problems on the Sandringham line. Why? Because a woman in the Stationmaster's office told Shaz and me that "nobody's complaining". My conclusion was that they don't exactly make it easy to complain! So let's see what we can do to help. I put a page on my website - - and I put a copy of the Connex complaint form on the site. I also printed out a wodge of complaint forms and put a copy of the details from my web page on the back.

It seems that this approach has niggled Connex a little, so when I go down today to hand in a few more complaint forms a guy called Joel tells me they can't accept any more forms with my information on the back. I'm trying to understand the rationale behind this, but all Joel can tell me is that it somehow invalidates the form. Sam, who appears to be a supervisor, confirms that my propaganda is unacceptable and invalidates the form. For the life of me I can't see how it interferes one iota with their complaints handling procedure, but Sam helpfully explains that if I put something on the back of a police form it would invalidate that too. I am still not clear what's acceptable - I think it's OK if my children draw pictures on the back, I can probably write something about my website, but not have all the information I currently have.

The root of the problem seems to be that I suggest to people that they hand in their forms to the Stationmaster's office. Joel, Sam and the unnamed supervisor who made this decision seem to think that I should be explaining that there are "premium" stations around the network and that I should be directing people to these. Yes, I travel between Ripponlea and Flinders Street, I could guess that well over 50% of Sandringham line commuters simailarly travel between a non-premium station and Flinders Street. But we're all happy to go out of our way to go visit a premium station just so Joel, Sam and the "nobody's complaining" woman can go back to not hearing any complaints.

Anyway, I guess I'll be printing off separate forms and information sheets and wasting twice as much paper just so Connex can handle our complaint forms unaffected by my propaganda.


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