Commuter sends diary of complaints to Greater Anglia
12:01 22 February 2014
A commuter has become so fed up with delays and cancellations on the Lowestoft to Norwich line, he has started keeping a diary of his experiences.
Selection of entries in Nick Hannant’s rail service diary
Wednesday, Feb 5: Cantley to Norwich 08:16: delayed, 45 mins late to work
Thursday, Feb 6: Cantley to Norwich 09:17: cancelled, 1 hour late to work.
Friday, Feb 7: Cantley to Lowestoft 08:06: cancelled, missed Doctors appointment
Tuesday 11th Feb - Norwich to Cantley, 17:50: one carriage at rush hour
Thursday, Feb 13: Cantley to Norwich, 08:16: delayed, 30 mins late for work
Thursday, Feb 13: Norwich to Cantley, 17:50: cancelled due to driver colliding with another train at the station, 2 hours late home, additional 2 hours and inconvenience paid to childminder
Monday, Feb 17: Cantley to Norwich 08:16: cancelled, 1 hour 45 mins late for meeting with client.
Monday, Feb 17: Norwich to Cantley, rush hour train, one carriage laid on people crammed onto the train in an uncomfortable manner.
Monday 17th was clearly a particularly bad day for the company, I was required in Norwich for 09:00 to attend an important meeting only to arrive at the station, wait 30 mins for a train that had been cancelled, nobody informed me the train was cancelled and I only discovered it had been by calling my wife. I then attempted to get the attention of the gentleman working in the manned crossing station however he neither told us the train was cancelled or could inform us if the next one was on time.
I duly got to Norwich via taxi costing me £20 to attend my meeting, for which I was late.
I proceeded to get the train home after the shambles of the morning only to find they had laid a single carriage on from Norwich to Lowestoft 17:50 at rush hour and half-term for the children. The train resembled something out of a developing country rather than Britain with people crammed into the smallest of spaces, eyeball to eyeball.
Nick Hannant, 28, says that over the last four months the Greater Anglia service had deteriorated and became so exasperated that three weeks ago he decided to start logging every problem he had on his commute from Cantley to Norwich.
“I am your stereotypical Englishman who grins and bears it and puts up with things,” he said.
“But with the trains, it has got to such a point and the service is so poor, that I cannot put up with it any more.”
Mr Hannant, who works for a Norwich-based insurance company, said he has experienced problems three out of the five days a week he uses the service.
Since he started the diary, delays and cancellations on the line have made him late for work, late for meetings, late home, he has missed a doctor’s appointment and had to pay an additional two hours of childcare.
Mr Hannant estimates he has lost up to £300 in buses and taxis he has had to rely on and rail tickets he has not been able to use.
“How Greater Anglia can regularly increase fares for the service provided is a mystery,” he said.
“The current service is sub-standard, continuously late and quite frankly an embarrassment. My diary clearly shows cancellations, late trains and insufficient carriages is a regular occurance.”
Mr Hannant sent his log of complaints to Greater Anglia and at the time of speaking to the EDP, had received no response.
He explained his complaints were not about financial compensation, but about having a reliable service to use to get to and from work.
Mr Hannant said he was lucky he worked for an ‘understanding company’ but that fellow commuters were not as fortunate.
One had even been given a disciplinary hearing for being late because of problems with the trains.
“I would like Greater Anglia to adhere to the services they offer,” said Mr Hannant.
“I use it five days out of seven during the week. I am having problems three out of those five days - that’s not a great service.”
An Abellio Greater Anglia spokesman said: “We have been in touch with the customer in respect of his concerns and we’re sorry for the occasions when service disruption has affected journeys on this route and for the inconvenience and frustration this has caused. Our two-carriage Class 156 trains that operate many services on our rural routes are currently being upgraded as part of a £3m rolling programme of improvements for these trains. Another of our local trains is also being repaired following extensive damage sustained because of the East Coast flooding.”
The spokesman added that problems associated with the adverse weather since late autumn had also been a factor on some days.
“For instance, there were two separate occasions at the end of last week where fallen trees blown down in the high winds caused some disruption to services between Norwich and Great Yarmouth / Lowestoft. Network Rail engineers responded quickly to these incidents to minimise the extent of the disruption,” she said.
The company defended annual fare rises saying they helped maintain investment in the railways and were determined largely by government policy.
The spokesman said: “Any customer delayed by 30 minutes or more may be entitled to some compensation under our ‘Delay Repay’ scheme, application forms can be obtained from Abellio Greater Anglia stations, from our customer contact centre and downloaded from our website.”
Mr Hannant has now been given compensation for his delayed journeys.