REPORTER Dale Haslam continues his regular blog on his daily train journey in and out of Bolton
MY friendly conductor wished me happy new year in the only way train companies seem to know how.
No, he did not shake my hand or wish me all the best for the 12 months ahead — Robert, as his name badge said, put out his hand and demanded another 20p on top of my £6.10 daily fare, from Chorley to Bolton.
This is the experience of long-suffering rail commuters every January and some of them pay as much as £4,000 a year just to get to and from work.
It is not necessarily the price that makes us grumble; it’s the lack of benefits. True, intercity services are much better than 15 years ago, with leg room, magazines, mobile phone charge points and well-stocked snack bars, but local services are the same, if not worse. Some trains, known as Pacers, date back to 1985 and are effectively Leyland buses on rails.
They are cold, bumpy, loud and uncomfortable and should have been binned ages ago (and, thankfully, they will be withdrawn completely in 2019 as they do not comply with disability law).
Call me a cynic, but I do not think it is a coincidence that the fanciest local trains through Bolton go to the airport as transport bosses want to show visitors how wonderful we are (pray they do not go on a Pacer).
So, my call to them for 2014 is — put commuters before tourists and put the airport-route trains on all routes.
That would truly make it a happy new year for all of us who depend on trains.