The Essex Chronicle is probably not the most exciting local paper in the country (in fact it's amazing how, in many people's eyes, putting the adjective 'local' in front of anything is enough to elicit sniggers and damnation in equal amounts. Think about it... local paper, local radio, local government, local shop for local people, local loop unbundling... you know you don't like any of 'em. A sad and sorry state of affairs...)
But the Chronicle is fairly good at pointing out the deficiencies with the ludicrously named 'one' railway... every months or so the crapness of the rail service provokes a headline. This time it was 'one hell of a train service' which is very similar to the giroscope post title from the last time I talked about this topic. I don't come back to it that often because it's too easy a target and nothing every really changes - the trains are always crowded, there aren't enough at peak times, they get slower and slower as more 'long term speed restrictions' are added in, and the fare increase is always more than CPI. The bastards just get more and more smug and unreachable. However my interest has been piqued by the sheer unreachability of new 'one' managing director Andrew Chivers.
Chivers took up his post in January and apparently agreed to meet a reporter from the Chronicle to discuss the inadequacies of the service. However, after this initial agreement in principle, requests for an interview date were never answered. At the start of April, the Chronicle's assistant editor wrote to Chivers personally requesting an interview. Several weeks later Chivers's PA called to say she was unaware of any previous interview requests but said it would be fine if a Chronicle reporter called to arrange an interview. He left 'numerous messages on her answerphone' over the next few weeks, none of which were returned. As the Chronicle reports,
more than six months after Mr Chivers took over, we are still chasing that elusive appointment.
Whilst the story is highly amusing, and an indictment of 'one', the aforementioned journalist and assistant editorChronicle seem to be unimaginative lame-asses - or maybe they're just on a tight budget. 'one''s address is at:
55 City Road
London EC1Y 1HQ
[These guys might not be able to run a train service but they can sure grab a fancy postcode, eh?]
All the reporters have to do is get on a train up to London (admittedly it's quite expensive and I don't know if regional journalism pays at all well) and take a newscrew from the local BBC or Anglia News with them (there is very rarely anything interesting on the local news here - for example, the headline one day was a piece about 'rats on the roundabout' at Ditchingam in Norfolk - I kid you not). Then do the most basic imitation of Michael Moore: go to reception, ask to speak to Andrew Chivers, and if he isn't there, blockade the entrance/exit for the day until the guy has to go home. (Best to turn up in the afternoon probably). For extra man/womanpower they could take some of the long suffering commuters with them. I'd certainly turn up. And voila! Instant headline story. I'm going to write to Watchdog with the story about Mr Chivers's reticence in any case - it will be highly amusing if it gets on TV.
I will also try writing to Chivers, although it's unlikely to do any good. I wrote to a previous managing director, Tim Clarke, a couple of years back. All I got was an identikit response from some poor bastard working in the 'customer services' (ahem) department which managed to be both patronising and incoherent at the same time. The only employee there who has ever responded to queries personally is Theo Steel, who was the 'Projects Director' (what on earth does he do I wonder?) but he is now retiring. I wish him all the best and it's probably a good time to leave. I wish I could... (i.e. stop commuting), and maybe I will. Just walk away from the f***er... I've got a dream about buying some land (like Gerry Rafferty said on Baker Street. But prices weren't as high relative to incomes in 1978, y'know.)
Anyway let's bombard this wanker Chivers with audio-visual assaults. Maybe it's time to do a Michael Moore on the bastard. I might take matters into my own capable hands. As Morrissey (and King Crimson) once said, "We'll let you know"...
p.s. I would have linked to the Essex Chronicle website for this story, but their write up of it was so pithy that I couldn't be bothered. Their site is bloody crap. Obviously they have no money for a decent web designer as well as train tickets!
p.s.2 - In the course of my research for this post I found an informative and entertaining blog about being annoyed about trains here.
p.s.3 I can't afford one of them yet and I would be crap at the games even if I could.