>FCC me, passenger power really works!


I never did have a very high opinion of First Capital Connection (FCC), the train company that recently took over the Brighton – Luton line franchise that stops also at Kings Cross Thameslink station, a short (if grotty) walk down the Euston road away from SSEES.

When they took over they wasted no time in repainting and re-uphoslstering the old Thameslink trains (now pink and blue instead of blue and yellow) and putting out leaflets and billboards saying that megabucks would be spent improving the service. Little changed, however, apart from an eyewatering 40% increase in offpeak ticket prices on 1 January 2007 (allegedly dictated by the Ministry of Transport).

When its stopping services are running late, however, FCC’s most anti-social habit is to decant passengers at Haywards Heath to wait for a later train and run the train straight to Brighton. When they tried this yesterday, however, on the 20.50 service (Driver’s tannoy annoucement: ‘I have just been handed a note saying….), a mini-rebellion took place on the platform of Haywards Heath station as 20-30 angry commuters realised that there train was now virtually empty and started haranging a hapless station employee (not employeed by FCC, but probably the track company ) demanding the phone number of the FCC despatchers, customers services, managers etc so they could give them a piece of their mind.

He could only offer an FCC Claim for Compensation Leaflet (you get 50% back if the arrive more than 30 mins. after scheduled arrival and protest that “This happens all the time, they’re always doing this. However they keep their franchise, I don’t know….” Neither did we. Retreating into his room, he must, however, have got on the blower to the FCC control room, as 5 mins later it was hastily announced that the train would, after all, be stopping at all stations to Brighton after all.

Protest and survive – or at least don’t wait an extra 20 mins on a cold station platform.

I guess, as ever, there’s a PhD topic waiting for someone: “Contention and Compliance in the Behaviour of UK Rail Passengers: An Ethnographical Study”…?

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