Tag Archives: East Midlands Trains

East Midlands Trains | Frustration at Derby Station

I travel to London a lot. The only way to go is by train really and I make the trip 1-2 times a week typically. The service is average at best with a mix of new/ old trains and weak/ slow WiFi connectivity (which is over priced), to name just two frustrations with the service. A standard open return ticket to London is £185.50. You can fly to Europe for that! Interestingly the equivalent ticket to Manchester (which is also a similar journey time) is £55.20.

I park at Derby station (well try to). Rather than a proper multi-storey (like Nottingham and other Cities) Derby’s car parking offer is fragmented into three surface car parks. The main one on Railway Terrace serves multiple functions; it’s a general customer car park, a short stay drop off, parking for the Police, disabled parking and first class parking. The daily charge is £14. There are two other car parks I could use, but one is on Pride Park and the other is behind the Post Office (which I’d rather not leave my car in, especially overnight, due to security concerns).

Most of the parking bays are marked out, although some are vague and some old ones have been partially removed, but are still visible. When the car park is full, the entry barrier continues to allow cars in (as that’s the drop off circuit). There’s no indication that the spaces have run out, other than driving around. Furthermore the signage advising that 30mins entry/ exit is free, is not clear. I assumed that once I was in, I’d be required to pay £14, or some portion of it, if I then exited to park elsewhere. I suspect others are the same.

Because of the unconventional layout, there are areas outside of bays where you could feasibly park without disturbing other vehicles and there’s nothing to discourage you from doing it. It seems that a lot of people use these areas, as did I one day when running late to catch a train.

When I returned I found a parking notice for £70 on my windscreen. My offence was stated as “Causing an obstruction” and “Failing to park correctly within a marked bay”.

There is a single sign which states the regulations for parking, this is by the entry barrier in small font; not exactly an ideal place to be able to read it, either in a car or on foot. The entry into the car park is badly designed/ dangerous too!

Accepting I wasn’t in a marked bay, I had actually parked with some consideration to other vehicles and know for a fact that I wasn’t causing an obstruction on the one-way road. I disputed the charges and also pointed out the inadequate signage, poor use of the entry system and photos of four other vehicles parked ‘illegally’ but without parking notices. One of which was a Police van, which is located there daily!

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My appeal was rejected (twice) and I was advised that other vehicles/ cases could not be discussed due to “Data Protection” (that classic catch all). I wasn’t asking for names and addresses of people! I was simply pointing out a blatant inconsistency in how they manage their policies.

The very next day I parked in the same car park. The photo below is how I found my car when I returned. The white car is clearly completely obstructing my black car in the middle. However there is no parking notice and in fact all three cars are parked in marked bays (although the white car is in an old bay which has been poorly removed).

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Whilst in dialogue with the Appeals Department, I pointed out that my return train on the day of my parking offence was delayed by 34 minutes (there’s that average service again). As stated on the website I am eligible to claim 50% of my journey cost back as I was delayed, this would be £46. I therefore suggested that my parking fine (which is reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days) could be dropped and I wouldn’t pursue a claim for the delayed train (which incidentally I’ve never claimed for previously). That wasn’t an option for them. I’ve now paid my fine and have made a claim for a part-refund of my delayed journey. I will be doing this in all future delay occurrences as well.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that I’m completely innocent here, I accept I didn’t park in a bay. But I do feel aggrieved by my experience of this episode, which has been poor to say the least! The policies East Midlands trains have imposed are badly managed and poorly communicated to customers. Surely better signage and perhaps a warning notice on my car could have been an option before prosecuting me (as I genuinely didn’t know I’d be causing an offence). Why are there no yellow lines on the roads? That would make it much clearer.

My final point is this; why are the Police permitted to blatantly ignore the parking regulations and consistently park in the marked ‘Drop off’ bay and partially on the pedestrian footpath, causing an obstruction to vehicles and compromising safety of pedestrians? If they need easy access to their vehicles, for genuine emergency activity, then they should have clearly marked adequate spaces.

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East Midlands trains, I think you you need to urgently review your parking strategy in Derby and significantly improve how you communicate to your valued (?) customers…

Connectivity Progress | Digital vs Transport

Facebook has turned 10 years old this week. I know this mainly because they have launched a feature which captures your ‘best bits’ in a mini video with music – Facebook is currently full of them! It’s quite phenomenal to consider the evolution of social media in just ten years and how it now influences and affects our lives in so many ways in modern culture. I am a big supporter of social media; it goes way beyond keeping in touch with people. I have many experiences of how these channels can be incredibly impactful in business. Social media is here to stay and there’s no telling how it will evolve further in the next ten years. But it will.

Thumb up hand with like text on button. Isolated on white.I’m currently ordering a new mobile phone and am pondering whether to opt for 4G. I suspect its probably necessary, but the rapid development of super-fast WiFi/ Broadband and mobile networks further supports our ever expanding need for faster connectivity and increased data usage. I heard this week that 90% of online stored data in the world was created in the last 2 years, this is due to Cloud technology. The digital world continues to move at an incredible pace.

My Dad worked for BT for over 27 years. I remember in the late eighties/ early nineties he’d bring those green phonecards home (which I used to sell at school! Sorry Dad, not sure I’ve ever told you that). He also brought home a sample of fibre-optic cable (or photonic crystal fibres to be precise) when that first came out. I was amazed that this hairlike tube could apparently carry millions of phone calls (not to mention ‘data’ which was a lesser know concept at that time).

In contrast to the digital revolution, it seems to me that our ability to move around the planet is regressing. This is confusing to me. From the mid-seventies, for some twenty seven years, it was possible to fly around the world at supersonic speed thanks to Concorde. Myself and a colleague, Jason Ainsworth, were lucky enough to go on Concorde once, admittedly though it was firmly on the ground at Duxford! Concorde could get from London to New York in around half the time we can now. It’s now over ten years since Concorde retired and planes have become more efficient, bigger and marginally faster, but its surely still a sizable step backwards.

ConcordeLikewise, after years of debating whether motorway speeds should be increased to 80mph, the Government have recently announced plans to trial 60mph speed limits on the M1 in Derbyshire? This is apparently to improve air quality in these (rural) areas. I wonder if/ how the Government have factored in the rapid progression of car engine designs to their plans? New engines are increasingly quieter and more fuel efficient, with substantially less Co2 emissions. The 60mph idea would also provide; “reduced congestion, increased capacity and improved journey time reliability for users of the motorway”. The M1 was built in the late 50’s. More lanes to increase capacity is the solution. I’m not sold on the 60mph idea just yet. Mainly because it will affect me personally.

East Midlands TrainsAnd finally our trains. Britain pioneered the railway – and then, its seems, many other countries overtook us. For sometime I’ve been frustrated with our ageing trains. Some of the trains I regularly catch down to London are older than me! And don’t even get me started on trying to use East Midlands Trains WiFi “service”. However, we have all been sold the dream of the forthcoming HS2 network which promises benefits to business and the UK economy. Phase 1 will be live in 2026, with Phase 2 becoming live in 2033. So that’s between 12-19 years from now?! And lets be honest; there’s every chance these dates will slip a bit. The big benefit we will all realise though is faster journey times to the capital. Well, actually we wont.

According to the HS2 website the current journey time from the “East Midlands Hub” (presumably East Midlands Parkway?) to London is 91mins. In around 15 years from now the HS2 journey time will be just 71mins. Very good. That’s a 20 minute reduction. But they are locating the (new?) station between Derby and Nottingham. Therefore most people who might be using these “super-fast trains” will have to travel extended distances to get to/ from the station. I reckon the journey time from central Nottingham and Derby respectively to somewhere around Toton is approx. 20-25mins (totaling around 96mins). You can see my point now perhaps?

Interestingly my current journey time from Derby to London is 89mins. HS2 will, it seems, be slower for me (and I rather suspect a lot of other people too potentially). The only people who will benefit are those who travel from centre to centre (i.e. with no additional travel at either end).

The point here is that modern lifestyle and business needs fast and effective travel more than ever. The Digital world has boomed in ten years, but more needs to be done to provide long-term solutions to our travel infrastructure. The ideas being discussed seem to be more like sticking plasters to an already struggling system.

Digital development; *Like*
Our ability/ prospects of getting places quicker? I’m not convinced we are progressing.

One final mention must go to Bombardier in Derby. I live in Derby and the city’s “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” is a convincing one with fantastic heritage. Bombardier’s recent contract is great news for the local economy.