East Coast trains get customer service – now they just have to deliver

Last week the Chairman of East Coast trains, Elaine Holt travelled down with a group of commuters from Newark in order to hear some of our gripes and moans about the service. Firstly, I have to say how impressed that the Chairman of our rail company took the time to come down with us, but what was even more impressive, for me at least, was recognition that while some things the company did were excellent, some things were not.

Our issues ranged from poor customer communication, with messages from head office seemingly not filtering down to passengers, to a poor attitude of a minority of staff when dealing with fare paying customers. The old issue of train staff sitting in first class was even dealt with more swiftly than I would ever have imagined. No sooner had three staff (clearly without the right tickets) entered first class, than up jumped the Chairman and asked why they were sitting in first class seats. The staff headed off to standard, which is where they should be sat.

Of course recognising issues and sorting them out are two different things. More trains stopping at our station is great. Getting the trains to run on time will be more of a long term problem, with some issues clearly outside of the gift of the train operating company. And changing the bad behaviour of their staff? Well every day since the Chairman’s visit their staff are back sitting in first class, so time will tell whether knowing about the issues means something will be done.

If Elaine Holt has anything to do with it, I have no doubt this will certainly not be a case of words and no action. And woe betide any staff choosing to ark themselves in first class when she returns for another catch up in April.


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