Friday, April 15, 2005

Summary 11-15 April

Here's the summary of our second week, certainly much better than last week.

The stats so far show 56% of trains I've gone for getting a green status, 11% orange and 33% red. So that's one in three either cancelled or delayed even beyond the Connex definition of "on time". I still think Bruce has to go!


I've given them a green if the train that I wanted to catch departs within two minutes of the scheduled time and I've given them an orange if they are "on time" according to Connex - seem fair?

Fri 15 April - Mostly good...

Morning - 07:14 arrives on time.

Evening - a couple of beers after work then head off for the 19:35. Nothing to tell me where it will depart from at the main entrance. Platform 9 shows the next one at 19:55... uh oh. No announcements on the platform, might as well take a look over on platform 13. Yep, there it is. And we leave pretty much on time.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Thu 14 April - Calm and relaxed...

Yes, calm and relaxed today. Why? Because I had a day's leave today and didn't need to use the train - and I handed in my uni assignment too!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Wed 13 April - Three days in a row...

Three days in a row the 07:14 runs just about on time - maybe it's starting to become reliable?

Left early as it's my wife's birthday. As a present to me, the 17:27 left on time. Two in one day... yay Connex!

On today's complaint form, for yesterday's delayed 17:27, I felt it was time to give the poor Connex complaints workers a tougher challenge. So as well as asking for an explanation for the delay, I also asked when Bruce Hughes is going to face up to his responsibility for his failure to fix Connex and resign. I'm not sure I really anticipate an answer, but if I don't get one I can then put in a complaint for an incomplete response to a complaint form!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Tue 12 April - Pack your bags Bruce...

For the second day in a row the 07:14 is on time.

And Eric at the Stationmaster's office tells me I'm OK to keep using the forms with my propaganda on the back until I receive an official response to my query.

Go for it or wait? That's the dilemma at 17:33 on platform 9. "It" in this case is the 17:27 that's already six minutes late. Instinct takes over and we jump on board along with 57,341 other passengers in the end carriage. Somehow we squeeze in. Why wouldn't we just wait for the 17:38 and avoid the crowds? Because we have no confidence whatsoever that it will show, that's why. Another sardine imitation like last night and eventually it's all over.

As I get into my car at the station, the 17:38 pulls in to Ripponlea, barely two minutes after the 17:27 did. Three passengers get off! So we made the wrong call tonight, but you just know if we'd let the earlier train go it would've worked out differently, don't you?

I think I might have taken things a bit too far this morning! You know how it is? You start writing an email and before you know it, it's out there. And once you've written it, it's kinda hard to hit that delete key.

In this instance, it was the call for a public apology and/or the resignation of Connex COO, Bruce Hughes.

Let me explain.

There's a very helpful guy in Connex who knows all about how the SMS system works. We exchange emails on occasion - sometimes when SMS is working well I'll tell him so, also when it's not I'll do so. Well I started innocently enough but before I knew it I was telling him about this blog. One thing led to another and before you know it I'm suggesting Bruce Hughes is overdue for another public apology. Bruce doesn't like me because quite a while ago he said the following in an email to me

"We hope to implement these initiatives in the near future. We trust these changes will bring back some certainty into our service, and so increase customer confidence.

As soon as these options have been finalised, we will be advising all Connex Plus members of the changes."

and now when I ask for an update he avoids replying, since there is no update! No material changes have been made to the service, there is no certainty, there is no customer confidence and we have not been advised of any changes.

So I suggested in my email that it would be better if Bruce were to stand down and let somebody else sort this mess out. OK, I know it was a little over the top, but if he'd seen the mood of passengers on the 17:38 Sandringham train yesterday, I think he'd be agreeing that it's time to give somebody else a shot. So what about it - anybody else agree it's time for Bruce to pack his bags and move on? Should we make this our campaign strategy?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Mon 11 April - Good start...

Well, the first day of the week. No SMS alerts and the train's just about on time. So far so good.

And what's that I see...? It's the two Connex station staff - haven't seen them in months! Back from holidays chaps? Or did you get a rocket from head office perhaps?

In one of my recent chats with the friendly Connex "customer service" staff at Flinders Street Stationmaster's office, I mentioned that the Ripponlea guys are always ensconced in their little office on the station's platform. (This was in response to some suggestion that they might be able to assist with complaints handling - ha ha ha!) The Flinders Street Connex "customer service" guy suggested I should put in a complaint about this. Seems I didn't need to and he's taken the action off his own bat - good on you! We'll see whether this continues...

17:20 there's an SMS - which train tonight? Ahhh the 17:27, a whole seven minutes notice for all those people hoping to get home early. So here we are for the first time this week going through that almost daily process - what do I do now? Go for the 17:38 anyway, knowing it'll be jam packed? Let it go and have a less crowded ride on the 17:49? But what if the 17:49 doesn't run? Let's do the 17:38 anyway, they rarely cancel two trains in a row.

Get to platform 8 and there's an announcement - platform 13. Looks like the guys who had all the fun Friday don't want to play the game tonight, there's still a few minutes to get there.

Arrive at platform 13, the train's already in. It's very crowded, no surprises there. 17:38 comes and goes, more people are managing to shoehorn themselves into the few remaining square inches of floor space. 17:40, off we go.

We get to Richmond and some giant unseen hand manages to force another few dozen bodies through the nearest door somehow and eventually the train driver gets the doors closed and we're off again. South Yarra and, incredibly, more people cram in - I've got more contact with the woman next to me than I had with most of my girlfriends (many years ago, I hasten to add).

I finally burst out of the heaving carriage at Ripponlea about 10 minutes late, a wad of complaint forms in my hand. No "on time" tick for this one Connex, sorry. I stand at the exit gate handing out complaint forms. Some look at me like I'm a lunatic, some wonder if I'm selling something, but the majority have had a pretty bad journey and they're ready to tell Connex so.

Once again, today's trip highlights the fundamental problem with Connex train travel - a cancelled train doesn't mean just waiting an extra ten minutes - if that's all there was to it, we'd not be too bothered. It's the fact that every scheduled train is pretty full even when they run on time (well I guess we can assume that, not sure anybody's actually witnessed it!) so when one's cancelled you're packing two full trains into one. And that irritates the hell out of us.