Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

It’s not right…it isn’t even OK

Posted in Business, Customer service, Great Britain by Chairman Pip on 21 December 2011

Recently, West Ham have started publishing in the matchday programme a guide for the upcoming away fixtures. Whether it is directly inspired by the extremely useful Football Ground Guide I don’t know, but it includes much the same information, including (probably most importantly) how to get there, both by road and by rail. Given that I don’t drive, and that I categorically refuse to go on a coach, the section on getting to each ground by train is useful – or at least it would be if I hadn’t already worked out how to get to my destination on the train and already purchased my train ticket…but that’s another story. Given that I am interested in the stadia of other clubs, and how to get to them, especially by train, I always peruse this section closely. Something else to note is that I’m not entirely sure whether each piece is written specially for the programme, or is intended to be a stock piece that can be reused again and again. Or at least I wasn’t until the last home game against Barnsley, which had pieces for our upcoming fixtures away to first Birmingham City on Boxing Day, then Derby County on New Year’s Eve. The Derby one is fine, but it is the Birmingham one that caught my eye especially. First of all, it mentions that Bordesley is the nearest station, which is true enough, but also that this has pretty well no service, which is also true. But the advice is to take a train from Euston to New Street; while this remains the fastest route (if you go on a Virgin Trains service, it takes about an hour and twenty mins), it is by no means the only one, as you can walk up to the ticket office at Marylebone, buy a £25.00 super off-peak return and be at Moor Street (which is closer to St Andrew’s than New Street) in a little under two hours. Indeed, I’ve done that on a number of occasions, and found the journey to be quite pleasant, in no small part to the fact that the train isn’t packed, because most of the West Ham fans taking the train have gone from Euston. However, having had all this go through my mind (which took about five seconds), the next thought occured to me. The section on getting to the ground by train is entitled “Can I let the train take the strain?”. And in this case, had it been written specifically for this fixture on the 26th December rather than as a stock piece for any away game against Birmingham, the simple answer would be “No”. Because, in case it had escaped people’s attention, there are virtually no trains running in England on Boxing Day – of all the TOCs permitted to run on the national network, the only ones operating any services at all on Boxing Day are:

Seeing as none of those go between London and Birmingham, I think it would have been fairer not to get people’s hopes by saying “this is how you get to Birmingham City by train” on a day when you can’t.

Birmingham New Street on a typical day. The 26th December is not a typical day

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