Badly let down
PUBLISHED: 12:13 06 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:01 06 May 2010
SIR, — First Capital Connect (FCC) showed a dismal lack of any kind of customer care or service on Tuesday morning during problems arising from track defects. I arrived at St Albans City Station to catch my usual train and very soon it became clear that
SIR, - First Capital Connect (FCC) showed a dismal lack of any kind of customer care or service on Tuesday morning during problems arising from track defects.
I arrived at St Albans City Station to catch my usual train and very soon it became clear that FCC had major problems. This is itself was a bit of a surprise because for several years I have subscribed to its text service and had had no warning of any problems.
I stood on the platform for several minutes wondering why so many trains seemed to be cancelled and eventually found one of their platform staff who told me that there was a points failure at Cricklewood and that it was the customers' fault that there were no station announcements - apparently there have been complaints.
Something like two-thirds of southbound trains seemed to have been cancelled so every train that did arrive was completely full on arrival. Even if I had been prepared to fight and push my way onto a train so overcrowded that it was arguably unsafe, each was also planning to stop at every other station to St Pancras.
It was therefore really infuriating to see Midland Mainline services steaming through the station with plenty of capacity. It was even more infuriating to see a steady flow of northbound Thameslink services, some with only two or three passengers, any one of which could have been terminated at St Albans - with minimum impact on those travelling north - and then sent back south. One even terminated at St Albans and then went north from there. This could have quickly cleared the platforms that were now so full that the station was closed for safety purposes.
It was nice to hear, when we finally got some passenger information, that we could use our tickets on the GN route through Hatfield, though even two-and-a-half hours after the incident at Cricklewood is alleged to have happened, there was no offer of help - e.g. coaches - to get to Hatfield.
And all the platform staff did was to say that it wasn't their fault.
I eventually managed to get in a very heavily-overcrowded train which arrived at City Thameslink only one hour and 41 minutes later than expected, having stood for nearly an hour-and-a-half in bitterly-cold weather on a station with next to no shelter.
And FCC had the nerve this morning to call this a "service".
I know that they'll probably say that the original problem was Network Rail's fault, but the way that FCC treats its passengers from then on is entirely down to them.
In summary: No information; no trains; no coaches; no service; no thought; no care for customers.
Sandpit Lane, St Albans.