Sometimes, just sometimes, I find myself travelling backwards and forwards between London and Suffolk in first class, usually because the fare is marginally more expensive or, on the odd bizarre occasion, because it is actually cheaper. Today is one of those occasions, and so this posting comes to you from the 19:30 from London Liverpool Street to Norwich, the one train of the day when they provide an at-seat dinner service.
Except, with the flair and competence with which NXEA are now renown, I am sitting in a darkened coach J for the second time in a fortnight because the people who apparently manage this company cannot arrange to have lights that work, and so those lucky people who have actually paid a full fare to ride this evening are forced to peer through the gloom at whatever they are trying to read. No apology, no explanation. It may be environmentally friendly, but it isn't service.
Oh, but it gets better. Many of us use this train because of the dinner service which, although not complex, is at least nourishing, and therefore, we haven't eaten. It seems that, when the staff turned up to run the service, they discovered that their operations staff had somehow failed to include a carriage with a kitchen in it. Therefore, no dinner service, and as my train makes it way through the evening, I am not very impressed. Add the fact that the train is already nine minutes late at Chelmsford, and I am not in the mood to forgive this evening.
So, I will be writing to National Express East Anglia to complain about their continued inadequacy not, quite frankly, that I expect to get a reply. The manner in which they wriggled off of the hook in terms of their contract to run the East Coast Main Line service is probably indicative of their general contempt for their passengers and the Government.
Oh, and yes, I can guarantee that this will not be the last that NXEA hear of this...