LNER : York to London King’s Cross

This is really handy when you’ve looking for platform 5 (I was on platform 6 at the time).

Anyway, this was the journey I took a few days ago from York to London King’s Cross. I’ll let the guard’s words speak for themselves about the state of this journey:

“I really wish I hadn’t been on this service, I wasn’t meant to be on it, I’m angry that I am on it”.

I certainly felt for him, LNER had served him badly, let alone the customers who had paid to be on it.

It is possible to try and work out where to stand on the platform by following the little code at the bottom. No-one bothered judging by the rushing around from place to place when the train arrived, it’s all a bit complex.

The LNER Azuma train sweeps into York. In fairness to LNER, these are perfectly nice trains, or would be if they were operated by a proper company.

I’m normally more polite, but LNER really can’t run a rail service very well, the service is ridden with managerial incompetence.

They insist that customers book a seat as part of the reservation system. This is so often a policy set for disaster, as LNER don’t bother putting anyone on the trains to enforce this policy, they just dump that problem on the guard. And on this occasion, he was busy dealing with the British Transport Police who were lifting a customer off the service. Nor indeed is the seat reservation policy enforceable anyway. My reserved seat was taken, so I just sat nearby. The problem is that this happened to nearly every customer. We had this ridiculous situation that some seats were kept free as customers thought others would be sitting in them (as the sign by the seat said they were reserved), whilst other customers gave up and sat in the aisle (as visible in the above photo).

This would be much easier if LNER did what most other rail companies and just make reserving a seat optional when buying a ticket. I don’t want to reserve a seat, I wish they’d stop making me as otherwise I can’t buy a ticket. If someone wants to reserve one, then let them. LNER’s system just forces customers to cram into carriages hunting for their seat, which isn’t ideal during Covid times. I suspect there was a carriage somewhere on the train where there was open seating and there weren’t any reservations, but I have no idea where that was.

Anyway, the guard put an announcement over the tannoy that British Transport Police had already been called to the train on two occasions and he was now dealing with a third problem. The poor guard sounded fed up and he vaguely attempted to check tickets, but was continually called to deal with seating issues due to LNER’s hopeless reservation policy. Drunken customers were also making his job harder and he reminded them over the tannoy that he would ask the British Transport Police to board again if necessary. He also suggested that customers text British Transport Police themselves if they couldn’t find him on the train. This announcement was made when we had just left York railway station, so it hardly felt a friendly welcome to LNER.

As an aside, to be honest, people don’t really need to buy tickets for this service (although I’m too well behaved to risk that) as there is no gate line at York and the one at King’s Cross wasn’t enforced.

The poor staff in the catering section were trying to walk up and down the train to supply food and drink as LNER have this great idea that customers can order at their seat. The system didn’t work as the staff couldn’t find the customer who had ordered it and they had to battle to get past the customers sitting in the aisle.

As this journey unfolded, there was more excitement just before Peterborough, someone had started smoking in one of the on-board toilets. This positively annoyed the guard who made another tannoy announcement about the situation, evidently just entirely fed up with this service.

And into King’s Cross, admittedly on-time. The guard must have been relieved that the service was over. I certainly was. The rail network perhaps needs to consider some significant modernisation to its processes as otherwise I suspect more people will just give up and start flying rather than getting the train. Or perhaps they could let British Airways take over the East Coast Mainline……..

I accept this all sounds a bit ranty, but, to be fair, the guard was too and I agree with him.