Post by Jeremy Double Post by Recliner Post by Jeremy Double Post by Tweed
“Not so nice in Nice
For those clamouring to have our railways renationalised, I would suggest
that they take a trip to France to see what they would end up with.
We spent a week in Nice in June/July, using the busy line along the French
Riviera where ten-car double-deck commuter trains run every half-hour, but
with NO guards or train staff. In fact, there was no staff presence on any
platform (except Monaco) - not even at the ticket barriers at Nice.
The trains ran mainly to time but were crowded and scruffy, often with
standing room only. Longdistance trains are a shadow of what used to run a
few years ago, and freight seems to be nonexistent. Elsewhere in France,
rural lines are being closed or run down.
And whereas we can claim compensation for trains running late, forget that
We took a 45-mile trip into the mountains near Nice on a scenic line with
just three trains a day. Coming back, the middle one was cancelled (which
apparently happens quite frequently) and passengers were left to their own
The station was unmanned, with just a departure screen and no instruction
anywhere on what to do next or who to contact. The nearby tourist office
had no official information and could only offer advice. We took the last
bus of the day, which left about an hour later, to the coast and caught a
train from there.
As for a refund, no chance. I was told that SNCF is impenetrable and I
wouldn’t get anywhere.
Our privatised system leaves a lot to be desired. But if the improvements
over the last 25 years would have happened here anyway, why haven’t they in
This seems like cherry picking and jumping to conclusions. The
nationalised railways in Germany and Switzerland are fine in my experience.
My experiences of DB are consistently negative: late trains, last minute
changes, unsafe working practices. In my experience, the most reliable DB
trains run out of Marylebone.
They tend to have a better record than the privatised British railways
network, IMX. But my experience is most often with Northern, TransPennine,
Cross Country and whoever is currently running the East Coast franchise. I
suspect that in both cases, the passengers’ experiences depend on what part
of the country you are travelling in.
I use two Cross Country routes every so often.
Firstly. Cardiff to Chepstow, Cheltenham, or Birmingham. This service
usually runs well and the trolley services has never let me down.
Conversely they are overcrowded if short formed.
Secondly. The Cheltenham to West Country service voyagers can be
overcrowded at any stage of the journey, even in Cornwall. Late running
usually results in a turn back short of destination. Voyagers have to
run to a tide table at Dawlish during inclement weather.
I have used XC twice beyond Birmingham over the past two years but had
the same problem on both journeys. Birmingham to March and Winchester
to York. Both journeys started with seat reservations suspended. The
former due to tight turnaround when there wasn't time to place the
reservation cards. However the guard tried to enforce seat reservations
even without the reservation cards in place. My complaint about this
got me a £5 voucher. The latter journey had no reservations on
departure from Winchester and the displays were blank. Problems started
at Reading when the reservations magically appeared. There wasn't any
real problem until after Birmingham when the new guard announced he
would enforce reservations. I got kicked out of the seat I was using so
decided to claim my seat but the occupant refused to move. I therefore
had to get the (most unhelpful) guard to get my seat vacated. I got two
£5 vouchers this time.
Looking at my letters of complaint I had complained particularly
bitterly about reservations being reinstated during the journey and
remember that this point was not covered in my reply. Presumably they
don't have a stock answer for this!
Post by Jeremy Double
Post by Recliner
As for Switzerland, the railways are very good, but many are private: do
you regard them all as nationalised? Do you only include SBB? What about
Most of the “private” railways in Switzerland that are public transport
rather than tourist rides (e.g. the BLS and the RhB) have majority
ownership from the federal government and/or the cantons, so I regard them
as being tantamount to being