Empower the commuter

Commuting to and from London on a daily basis can at times be a tricky and frustrating experience, especially if there are problems on the line. Given a long day of work to contend with, I suspect most commuters, like me, just want the process of getting to and from work to be straightforward and as painless as possible.

How busy are trains from Watford Junction on the morning commute?
How busy are trains from Watford Junction on the morning commute?

I’m a big believer that passengers or customers, call them what you will, should be kept informed. This allows them to better manage their journey and might well help the service all. I was therefore impressed today to come across London Midland’s feature listing how busy peak trains are to and from town. Customers become empowered; they can see at a glance their chance of getting a seat on each service, which, if they’re like me, is a big factor when deciding when the travel.

I really wish this was a feature provided by all train companies, indeed the Underground too. Instead on the whole we gradually and through no end of trial and error try to piece together when works well and which journeys will be hell. However if the companies are collecting this information anyway – and let’s face it they must do to some extent – why not make it available and empower the customers?

This should work to the benefit of the train companies too. Think about it: they’re telling us which trains are likely to be crowded, so we can actually try to avoid them and take the quieter train. We could be given the power to avoid being in the jam at the same time help balance out the usage of the train services as a whole.

Just looking at these guides actually provides an interesting insight into just how crowded the trains are heading into Euston. Out in the Shires there’s largely space enough: at Tring all bar one morning train has space aplenty. By Watford Junction only about 1 in 5 trains has plenty of space and almost a third were standing room. By Harrow & Wealdstone 3/4 are standing room and the remaining 1/4 are almost full. Ok, so the commute is shorter from the London ‘burbs, but would you prefer to be seated for 30 mins or stand in a crowd for 15 minutes? But them I’m a country lad so I’m biased…

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One thought on “Empower the commuter

  1. Fascinating article
    Did part 3 ever get published?
    Some of the links to old timtables also seem to have got corrupted
    Needs some massive posters putting up at Ricky staion to create awareness

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