When I went to Huddersfield on Thursday for Question Time the BBC proposed using the train. That was fine for the outward journey, but it turned out there were no trains after 10pm, about the time I needed one to get back home. It was also obvious there would be no connecting train from London to anywhere near where I live.
I was booked on the 5pm to Wakefield. It would require a car to get from there to Huddersfield. I was sent an electronic summary of the ticket, seat reservation and confirmation of payment like an airline. It said I had to take it to a ticket office to get the physical ticket.
On arrival at Kings Cross I queued at the temporary ticket office I found from the tube station entrance to the mainline station. The “ savage spending cuts” meant that the station itself is undergoing a very comprehensive and expensive refurbishment and reconstruction. When it was eventually my turn I was told the man at the ticket office window was unable to handle my request for my train ticket. He redirected me to another ticket office.
I queued there. I was told by the BBC to transfer to the earlier train, the 4.31, and told in the electronic confirmation that the ticket they had bought was transferrable. I asked the ticket office to issue a ticket for the earlier train. I was given a ticket, and another ticket which was a seat reservation. It was difficult to see why they needed to issue two tickets for the same journey.
As I walked towards the train I realised I had been issued with a seat for the 5pm, not the 4.31. I went back to the ticket office, and queued again. I asked why I had not been issued with the train ticket I had requested. I was told that if you wished to change trains you had to arrive 3 hours before the train you wished to catch! I asked if there were spare seats on the 4.31. The ticket officer said he was unable to tell me! The ticket office seemed to have plenty of computers, but little ability to help customers.
As it turned out there were plenty of spare seats. There seeemed to be plenty of scope to cut costs and raise the quality of customer service.