As has been well established by now, I tend to make my way by means of bicycle or train. Oft, I try to combine the two by cycling to the station and then catching a train. Usually, this requires me to leave my steed at Whittlesford Parkway whilst onward I journey. There used to be four Sheffield stands on the Sawston side of the station to allow my mount to be safely secured. However, as with so much in this country, these were not maintained for many years and so became badly afflicted by rust (a cynic might view this as a metaphor for the whole rail network).
For a while, the rust held the stands together – but over the last couple of weeks, three of the four have completely disintegrated (and the last can’t be long for this world). So, I filled in a complaint form and sent it off to Greater Anglia (who are the operators of Whittlesford Parkway station) requesting their replacement (the cycle stands, rather than Greater Anglia). Yesterday, the post brought a reply – from someone claiming the title of Customer Relations Advisor. I hadn’t realised I was in need of advice on my Customer Relations and as the letter contained no obvious counsel on this topic, I fear they will remain as poor as ever.
Apparently, the Area Station Manager (hereinafter referred to as the ASM) is going to look for funds to improve the situation: perhaps he could take a peek down the back of his sofa? Curiously, as I have previously noted, there was no shortage of funds to re-brand everything on the station when Greater Anglia took over the local rail franchise. Ironically, one of the items re-branded was a poster warning customers to take care when using the stairs of the footbridge. Customers from Sawston will now have to navigate this same footbridge whilst carrying their bicycles (twice per journey) in search of a secure anchorage – a somewhat dangerous operation, and one not obviously made any safer by the re-branded poster.
Should our ASM find a few quid, and have any left over after replacing the bike racks, he might also consider fixing the station departure indicator display on Platform 1 which has not been operational since January.
I recently discovered that more than 160,000 journeys either start or end at Whittlesford Parkway each year (of which I should be able to claim a few score). This is rather more than many other stations on the same line, though I’ve noticed that many of these have brand new cycle racks – and several stations have recently gained a new footbridge (with lift!) and/or a platform extension. Clearly, we are being treated as second (sorry, standard) class citizens! What have the folk of Whittlesford (or perhaps Duxford, Pampisford or Sawston) done to offend the Dutch (who now run our trains)? I’d have expected better of the Dutch, who at home seem pretty good at looking after their cyclists: which perhaps provides a warning on the dangers of the stereotype.