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The Friday Rant Club – First Capital Connect

Or rather that should be First Crapital Connect.


But another day, another hideous commute.


I was lucky, some people were stuck on a train for 3 hours with no information and then still had to try to get home when they finally made it to a station.


I left work, late, sprinted to the station, to discover chaos.


Chaos which the First Capital Connect staff weren’t doing a lot to help with.


Fortunately I’ve had this happen before so I had a back up plan to go on the parallel service a bit further out and then get a taxi back to pick up my car.  Trouble was that other people had realised this and with only two trains an hour going north I couldn’t physically get on.


And First Capital Connect staff had thrown in the towel and gone home.  But not before making sure there were an awful lot of police about just in case their passengers got a bit antsy because nobody was there to help them and the announcements were giving out any useful information.  Which is normal so I don’t know why we commuters expected otherwise.


An hour wait and I managed to get on the third train.  Which was so crammed the staff were having to stop people getting on because it was unsafe.  There were even people standing in the toilet.  And in the connecting bridge between carriages.  But it went and we got to Luton and I was able to get a taxi back to my station and collect my car and go home and let my nanny go (who thankfully was able to stay and babysit for the extra time).


End result, should have been home at 8, was home just before 10pm.  Had to pay nanny overtime, a £14 taxi back to the station carpark and now face having to get to work today with the service not yet back to normal.
And for this I pay £300 a month plus their extortionate car parking charges because guess what, their fares are controlled but the car parking isn’t.  In the 4 years we’ve lived here the cost has gone up by nearly £3 a day.


I know accidents and incidents happen.


Thing is that its not about having accidents and incidents, although I suspect that a bit more investment in the infrastructure and building in a bit of redundancy might help, its about how you deal with them.


Its about having staff that realise that getting stranded is a Big Deal – that it means having to get someone to look after your children (how dare you commute and both work!), that it means more cost, inconvenience and that you need to know what is going on.  It means if you are on Twitter its probably not a good idea to tweet that you are going home in the middle of an incident…. although there were tweets later on that account from Pizza Express…


It also means that you need to understand that you can’t just keep putting up prices and reducing the quality of the service – I seem to encounter problems with increasing frequency.  I pay more and more and getting a seat is a luxury.
Yes I know I chose to live here but I chose Thameslink not First Capital Connect and I am once again looking at alternative routes.  Could someone else please look at whether they should be allowed to run a train service anymore?


If you were caught up in this mess, to save you time, here’s the link to the compensation claim website – I reckon I should get about £8.



The Friday Rant Club is a chance to get those niggles, those irritants, those things that make you want to throw a toddler-stylee tantrum off your chest before the weekend.

Go on, let it all out and if you feel like it there’s a rather nice little button over there on the right to show you too rant


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19 comments to The Friday Rant Club – First Capital Connect

  • Have you looked into going from Welwyn Garden City rather than St Albans? I don’t suggest the trip is any better but it couldn’t be any worse?

    I’m so glad I’m office bound in St Albans now days rather than having to travel about.

    • Muddling Along

      I’m looking at WGC (and Hatfield) but also Luton as well – strangely East Midlands seem to be able to run trains when FCC fail… funny that

      And I think it may be time to try and find a job closer to home – at least we won’t be both stranded at St Pancras (although we did sneak a glass of wine in whilst waiting to get close enough to the ticket barriers to actually be able to get on a train)

  • Yes total nightmare- I would suggest WGC or perhaps driving to tube station- Watford or Northwood?? I’ve travelled on the train two or three times this year (because I am lucky) add EVERY single time there has been problems. To be honest I am actually finding it quite frightening to travel on public transport these days, the uncertainty or not knowing if you can get back and whether you have adequate childcare is so stressful. I have suggested the 5.99 purchase of a megaphone for the staff at Kings Cross, however I suspect that would be too much investment into the railways.

    • Muddling Along

      It has definitely got worse

      The thing that really riled me was that the FCC staff disappeared, pulled down the shutters and left the police to deal with the problem. And the East Midlands staff who were lovely but totally overwhelmed (one poor lady was trying to get people off a jam packed train because the doors wouldn’t close and frantic about the safety issues)

      A megaphone would be a good idea – funny they haven’t invested that much (I reckon they think that slapping pink paint on everything hides the lack of investment from us)

  • nikhk

    Utterly disgraceful. It drives me potty that we have such an expensive, inefficient rail service, when most comparable countries have a far superior service for less money. Getting a train from Madrid to Barcelona a few years ago was an absolute joy compared to the chaotic rip-off that is a trip on Virgin from Birmingham to London.
    Having said that, London Midland do seem to (largely) have their act together in a way Central Trains could only dream of, and Chiltern Railways have rarely let me down. Which begs the question, if some companies can get it right, why can’t they all? And where are the penalties for those that don’t?

    • Muddling Along

      Exactly, take Italy and their fabulous rail service – its cheap, its easy and its clean and friendly. Compare and contrast to my daily game of sardines and disruption.

      Chiltern Railways are supposed to be wonderful – we did look at houses on their line but they come into the wrong part of London for the City…

      • nikhk

        Yeah, whenever I go to our office at London Bridge I’m always torn between getting the slower train direct to Marylebone and a longer tube journey, or go the quicker route to Euston which has more changes (= more fraught with potential for delay) but is only a few stops on the Northern line.

        I often make the wrong call.

  • I am feeling ashamed that I moan about driving 7 miles to work! That is tough going.

    • Muddling Along

      All commuting is horrible, just some is a little worse – I am currently looking to see what other routes I can use, I really don’t want to let these people have my money any more…

  • Yes if someone could just say they are sorry It would make you feel better. But noone wants to anymore (and especially here in the States where it makes you liable). That $8 is the most painful you will ever make that’s for sure.

  • Urgh, I feel for you, I really do. I hope you find a good alternative route soon xx

  • Thankfully I don’t have to do it very often, but when I do you rail it is usually a big, important journey and it will, inevitably, go wrong. I missed my daughter’s pre-school concert as a result of the most recent fiasco. No amount of compensation can make up for that!

  • See, that’s why I drive everywhere. I hate hate hate public transport in the UK, it really sucks. Sorry, that doesn’t help you much, I just realised 🙂

  • I think I’ve lost years from my life expectancy due to commuting woes. And I don’t even do it that often!! x

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