…what? Chopped liver?
I hereby officially fail to understand the SouthWest Trains train-length policy. For the first few months I thought that whether we got a four-carriage or eight-carriage train was entirely a matter of luck and so was forced to listen through the entire endlessly drawn out announcement at Kew Bridge until it got to the bit where it told us how long the train was going to be. This is the important part because it means the difference between standing room only and room for everyone to sit down, spread out, and even tapdance in the aisles, so of course they like to prolong the agony – first we hear where the train is going, then we hear where it will stop, then we get a great long list of stations where the train is not going but which we could get to if we were prepared to change at Barnes. Only then does the automated voice announce with a happy little pre-programmed lilt up (if it’s eight) or a solemnly aplogetic inflection down (if it’s four) what our fate will be.
After prolonged study and experimentation I have now worked out that the long and short trains alternate and it’s not done purely on the whim of some minor deity, but just because there’s some pattern doesn’t mean there’s any logic to it. The short trains seem to carry no fewer passengers than the long ones (except when they physically can’t get on, as was happening yesterday). I can see that they can’t make all the trains eight cars long, nice as that would be, but I did wonder why they don’t just do the logical thing, average it out and give them all six carriages. No doubt there’s some deeply technical reason to do with rolling stock configuration and power units and axle loading ratios that I wouldn’t understand even with diagrams. And there’s another obvious solution, which is to get rid of the first class sections and make more room for everybody to sit down (including the poor sods you see every day standing in the first class sections – how galling must that be?) But since when did logic ever have anything to do with running trains?