Christopher and the Severn Tunnel

By | Category: Travel news

First Great WesternYesterday was one of those all too familiar railway days. Something had gone wrong with the points in the tunnel and only one track was available for trains to use crossing from England into Wales.

I was late getting to a meeting as were hundreds and hundreds of others. We were told that the12.45 train to Swansea had taken over an hour to go through the tunnel. The 13.15 to Cardiff got as far as Bristol Parkway before it was cancelled. Whoever was in charge reduced the number of trains that would be using the tunnel in order to speed things up. We got on the next train, the 13.45 to Swansea.

Enter Christopher.

Describing himself as the Train Manager, he kept us informed us with what was going on, apologised profusely and actually sounded as he cared which, let’s face it, a lot of railway staff don’t. He told us how long it had taken the last train ton get through the tunnel, informed us that he had no idea how long it would take us and said that he would talk about onward connections once the train had emerged from the tunnel.

When that happened here was relief in his voice as well. Throughout that part of the journey he came through the carriages talking to people and answering questions. I can’t say what the reception was like in other carriages but in ours, he was met with politeness and no aggravation. This was unlike the feelings amongst passengers who had been earlier grumbling on the platform at Bristol Parkway.

The reason?

It was because of the way that he, and the other crew on board that service, dealt with the issues raised by the delay.

It’s called customer service and it is something that is lacking in lots of customer-facing staff these days so when you come across someone that is adept at it, that approach sticks out a mile.

Obviously some of us didn’t make connections. That was the bad news he said. The good – and how many train staff would say this – was that we could claim refunds if the train was more than an hour late and it was certainly that.

Taxis were laid on for those who headed into the westernmost part of Wales which actually turned out to be a white coach emblazoned with the fact they were available for weddings.

It was all handled calmly and efficiently. And that is what problem solving should be about and why complaints weren’t directed at Christopher, the other members of the crew or GWR.

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