This week’s article was to be about ‘Powers of Attorney’ and some of the other instruments, or documents, that we can put in place for a time when we want someone to have the power to make decisions for us. BUT, now there is, to me, a more pressing issue for this week!
What is wrong with those of us who live west of the ‘Great Divide’? Are we considered to be so insignificant that we don’t count? How are we perceived by NSW Trainlink?
For someone who lives in Orange and travels on the XPT to Sydney, on average two or three times a fortnight, I am probably more familiar with the route, staff and carriage configuration than the average passenger. “So what”? You might well ask. My question is “why does management in NSW Trainlink repeatedly replace Car B (one of the two first class carriages on the Dubbo line) with an Economy Carriage”? This happened yet again this morning on the trip from Sydney Central to Orange. Not just this morning, but on my last trip home from Sydney Central on Saturday 23rd June and on Monday 18th June – this is when I started keeping a record of the replacement carriages. The last two occasions occurred within a week and now less than three weeks later it has happened again, and they are only the dates on which I have travelled. Obviously for me to have the proverbial steam under my collar it has happened on several other occasions.
So what is wrong with travelling in an Economy Carriage? For a start, the First Class carriage has seat numbering up to 56, the Economy Carriage has another twelve seats – in the same size carriage. One doesn’t have to be a mathematician to calculate that there is considerably less leg room in an Economy Carriage, than in a First Class Carriage (a fact that is used by NSW Trainlink in their promotion of First Class travel). It’s actually not even the cramped condition, though that in itself poses a problem for a tall person such as myself. It’s also the fact that the replacement carriage does not have a “chilled water” dispenser. For someone wanting a cup of water they are required to walk through Car B, through Car C and into Car D – not a trek to be made lightly by an older person with limited mobility particularly when the train is in motion.
This situation is not brought about by the staff on the XPT, but they, or course, bear the brunt of the anger and frustration of the passengers who have booked a particular seat, such as I do each trip. The seat I book enables me to work without the inconvenience of the person in front of me pushing their seat back to the extent that the table on the back of their seat cannot be dropped down and I don’t have to spend the five hour trip “trapped” in my seat.
On occasions NSW Trainlink send a text message notifying passengers that this change is to occur. This morning’s text came through at 5.26am. On the 23rd June trip it came through one hour after the train left Sydney Central, and sometimes it just doesn’t come through at all. A quick check with the twenty passengers on the train first thing revealed that everyone had received a text this morning. But how does the message read?
“NSW Trainlink wishes to advise that due to carriage maintenance CLK427 the 7.18 Sydney to Dubbo XPT first class car “B” has been replaced with an economy car. Please call 132232 or see station staff to claim a refund of the difference. NSWTL apologises for the inconvenience.”
“Due to carriage maintenance” is somewhat ambiguous. Is it the carriage “B” on the Dubbo line that requires almost continual maintenance or is it a carriage B on one of the many other XPT services conducted by NSWTL? If the latter, are we, the passengers of the Central West, just bearing the brunt of this carriage replacement so that passengers on another line are not inconvenienced?
In my case it is not a question of refund. I pay and use an Adult Premium Discovery Pass. I pay $550.00 every six months for unlimited first class travel, anywhere in Australia that I can book through NSWTL. This would have to be voted a deal not to be missed - dependant, of course, on the fact that NSW Trainlink can provide the service.
Obviously I have complained, online, about the replacement carriages and it was only last week that I received a call in respect of my complaint, but still nothing is done. I have already lodged a complaint, online, about today’s replacement and no doubt I will receive another courteous call from NSWTL, but will it change anything? Perhaps only time, numerous complaints and a united front will see the people west of the divide receive the service we deserve.