Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cable Fire at London Marylebone

Sunday 15th June 2014

Overnight, there has been a cable fire just outside London Marylebone. This means that the signals don't work, so there are no trains running to or from Marylebone at present.

Full guidance from Chiltern Railways is available here.

In a nutshell....

  • Passengers for the High Wycombe line should travel to/from West Ruislip using the Central Line.
  • Passengers for the Aylesbury via Amersham line should use the Metropolitan Line. Chiltern Railways trains will start/finish at Harrow on the Hill. 
The situation could change during the day, so check before you travel. 

Information is also available via the National Rail Enquiries website.

Edit: 1038. It appears that some trains on the High Wycombe line may be starting / finishing their journeys at Wembley Stadium station. However connections by public transport there are poor into Central London (and it won't be all trains anyway. It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that passengers follow the official advice and travel directly to West Ruislip for travel to railway stations along the High Wycombe line. 

Edit: 1345. Most trains towards London (on the High Wycombe line) are currently stopping at South Ruislip to drop off for connections to the Central Line. Trains out of London however are still picking up at West Ruislip. It is clearly proving difficult to run all trains to time - many have extra stops, so allow plenty of time and expect delays.

Edit: 1630. The Central Line is currently suspended between Westbound between Marble Arch and a White City. Not good news for Chiltern Railways passengers trying to get to West Ruislip. 

Options seem to be:
  1. Northbound Bakerloo Line to Wembley Central and then a 10 minute walk to Wembley Stadium station or
  2. From Bakers Street or Edgware Road (H&C) stations take the Hammersmith & City Line to Wood Lane. White City station is a 3 minute walk from there, from where the Central Line runs to West Ruislip. Allow at least an hour from Marylebone. 
The day just got worse. 

Edit: 1715. Unsurprisingly, the Central Line suspension between Marble Arch & White City is now both ways. Expected to last until 1900 but no guarantees on this. 

Edit: 1745. It appears that a through service has now resumed on the Central Line. Severe delays are reported at present. 

Edit: 1950. Central Line has improved. Now just 'Minor Delays' reported. 

Email received at 1920 from Chiltern Railways re tomorrow morning:

"Dear Customer,

Marylebone station is closed due to a cable fire. Around 2 metres of signalling cable in the tunnel into the station has burned away meaning the signalling system is not working. Without signals we cannot safely run trains, so are not running to or from Marylebone until new cables are installed and tested. Engineers are on site however, disruption is expected and Marylebone will be closed into Monday morning and until further notice.

We strongly advise passengers to avoid travelling on Monday unless essential.

Chiltern tickets are valid on Virgin Trains, London Midland, FGW, CrossCountry & London Underground services."

Final Edit: 2320. Marylebone is not expected to open in time for the Monday morning rush hour. An emergency timetable has been published for the Amersham line. The Wycome line version will hopefully be out in the next hour or so.

Good night everyone.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

London buses will not accept cash fares from a Sunday 6th July 2014

I received this email yesterday from TfL.

"I am writing to let you know that from Sunday 6 July, all our buses are going cash free so you will no longer be able to use cash to pay for your bus fare in London.

Instead of cash, you can use an Oyster or contactless payment card to pay as you go, or a Travelcard. A single adult bus fare is £1.45 with Oyster or a contactless payment card. Only touch the card you want to use on the yellow card reader."

I understand why they've done it, but don't feel particularly comfortable with the changes. 

As the tourist season has got into full swing (is there such a thing in London?), I have recently noticed an increase in the number of passengers paying for their bus fares with cash. Certainly more than the 1% of passengers who supposedly do so. 

The changes will happen and will not be reversed - I think there needs to be a digital brand campaign for Oyster targeted at overseas tourists. Too many have no idea of what their optimal ticketing arrangemts ought to be when visiting and traveling around London. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What is the point?

So, more people in the UK have voted for UKIP than for any other party.

The UK will be sending more UKIP MEPs to Brussels than any other party. 

Will it make any difference to the way the EU is governed? Almost certainly not. 

So what is the point?

That is the point!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Passenger Engagement and Public Toilets

Before reading any further, I must first of all point out that I am not in the habit of taking pictures in public toilets. Honestly.

A significant part of the role of a corporate Marketing & Communications team is to increase customer engagement with your brand. 

The word engagement is something that means different thinks to different people. Thanks to the English language, context is of course important. 

Employee Engagement is part of the modern management lexicon of corporate-speak. A cynic might say that someone with a high level of Employee Engagement is likely to accept less remuneration (or lower pay rises) and is less likely to leave, than would otherwise be the case. 

For a train company, customers are in the main your passengers. Passenger Engagement can therefore mean different things, but if a Marketing & Communications team can successfully increase brand perception, then that is good. It is what they are there for. 

A strong brand increases loyalty from existing customers and will also help attract new ones. For a train company, that means new passengers.

I am probably fairly high up the target list of a passenger that a train company would want to keep loyal. I do not say that because I have an over-sized head but because (a) my local Train Operating Company gets sack loads of my dosh every year (b) I use twitter to communicate with and about them and (c) I occasionally write blog posts about my experiences. 

For me, there is no chance of another TOC getting my day-to-day business. Chiltern Railways operate a monopoly in my area so, along with thousands of other commuters, I am not going anywhere else. 

It's a different story however for Chiltern Railways when looking at the entirety of their route. The London to Birmingham route is highly competitive. 

Here are the options and a snapshot view of each brand and offering (my views alone). 

  • Virgin Trains. London Euston to Birmingham New Street. Fast. Expensive. 
  • Chiltern Railways. London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street / Snow Hill. Not so fast, better value. 
  • London Midland. London Euston to Birmingham New Street. Really slow. Good value. 

So, see what I've done? I have ranked and compared three multi-million pound businesses based on just two comparatives and my perceptions. 

Each of those comparatives (speed and price) can easily be challenged, or proven wrong, or may be completely irrelevant to particular passengers. 

Speed (time a journey takes) is affected by a number of factors including your specific start and finishing points, ease of connection to onward trains and even the time or day of the week. 
Price, as far as the UK railway industry is concerned, should be the subject of a Masters Degree in Confusion and Complexity. I will simply say that a single one-way journey between London and Birmingham can sometimes be obtained for as little as 50 pence (a newspaper promotional offer) to as much as £135. Of course the vast majority of passengers pay somewhere in the middle and well below the mid-point of those two prices. 

Other passenger relevant variables might include;
  • The availability of wi-fi and it's cost. 
  • Tables
  • Refreshment services
  • Station ambience
  • Plug charging points
  • Types of trains
  • View out of the window
  • Friendliness of staff
  • Availability of seats
  • Awareness of what choices there are
  • Cleanliness of toilets
Everybody is different and each individual will have their own personal decision-making matrix that they use. That is complicated and is difficult to model or to communicate effectively. 

That is where the Communication and Marketing team comes to the front. Can they encapsulate little snippets of information that subtly make people want to use their services over those of a competitor? Perhaps a self-deprecating choice of language. Humour. Honesty. Integrity. Everything helps, almost anything goes. 

So, what has all that got to do with toilets?

Take a look at the toilets at Marylebone Station and you'll find out!


Saturday, May 03, 2014

Pictures - Saracens -v- Worcester on Saturday 3rd May 2014

Something a little unbalanced happened with the colour - I suspect that this is a combination of (a) shooting into the Sun and (b) all the blue glass in the West stand. Well, those are my excuses.

Use and abuse as you wish!

Pleased to see you made it to the end!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bond Street - No Central Line until 17 June 2014

From today until Tuesday 17th June 2014, the Central Line will not be calling at Bond Street.

Central Line passengers will need to use stations either side (Oxford Circus or Marble Arch). 

Jubilee Line trains will still call at Bond Street, but for entry / exit only. It will not be possible to change lines at Bond Street because Central Line trains are not stopping there.