Dear Hell Trains
I had the misfortune of experiencing your air conditioning lottery with full force a few weeks back.
I was travelling from Hull to London on Sunday 1st July, circa 14:30. I arrived at Paragon Station to be informed that there was no air conditioning in coach C, and that there was nowhere else for me to sit either. You could say I was fuming. Literally. And I hate the word ‘literally’.
Originally I hoped to do some work on the train, although I know how patchy your wi-fi is (patchy being kind but this was the least of my worries). Instead I just had to sit there with sweat dribbling down me, desperately blowing regurgitated air into my face. I really was fuming.
Just before Doncaster, after an hour of being inside hell, the guard found me a seat in the next carriage. I quickly moved. Ahh air conditioning. Beautiful. I calmed down, though I was emotionally and mentally frazzled, and angry. Oh yeah I had had just purchased a new domain name in my anger, www.helltrains.co.uk
Alas, my new carriage’s air conditioning soon failed, and gradually it became hotter and hotter, stuffier and stuffier. I became angrier. It was a hellish experience.
By time we arrived in London, it was 31’C outside. Yet felt so much fresher than on either of the Hell Trains carriages that I had the misfortune to experience. My religious teacher once told me that I would go to hell for throwing a dice at her head. It seemed that she was right, after all. I estimate that it must have been 35’C on board. Maybe it was more but I don’t want to overestimate things.
Separately my mother travelled to London from Hull last week, and both times she received a shower from the air conditioning unit. This is quite outrageous. I have told her to complain to you separately, but I doubt that she will.
I am not going to use Hull Trains again, at least until you have new rolling stock. And I will eventually get round to starting my website www.helltrains.co.uk to display how bad the service has become.
6 weeks later…
Thank you for your email. Please accept our apologies for the delayed reply due to a back-log we are currently experiencing.
We are very sorry to hear that you had such an unpleasant and uncomfortable journey with us, this is something we wish to avoid if at all possible. Our Fleet team are aware of the issues and are doing their best to keep a consistent temperature on our services. With the recent excessive temperatures, we have seen in the UK it has taken the Air Conditioning systems on our units beyond the parameters which they were designed to operate under.
We have a team of Riding Technicians, who are on our services whenever possible, ensuring that we offer the best possible travel experience to our customers, but the work they can undertake on a moving train is limited, and it is only overnight when we get full access to affect any repairs necessary. In order to gain access to the air con units on the train our train has to go into the depot, have the roof lifted off by crane and then the air con units removed and repaired, this process does require a full day and has to be booked into the depot in advance so we cannot always guarantee the problem can be fixed during service. Regrettably, this can take some time as we only have so many trains and have to work out carefully when they can be out of service in order to minimise disruption.
We understand everybody’s frustration with the heat. In regards to running services under these circumstances, there is currently no legal maximum temperature for workplaces, public areas, modes of transport etc. What the law does say is that businesses must control risks as far as is reasonably practicable. We have in place, many measures to proactively and reactively manage risks such as handing out bottled water and fans where possible. We absolutely believe conditions on our services are as safe as they can be which is helped by the continued support of our on-board staff. They have been doing their best to ensure that customers are having the most enjoyable journey possible by moving customers to seats in more comfortable coaches if requested and when available. If our staff are busy elsewhere on the train, customers are, of course, at liberty to move to other available seating should they wish to do so. We do listen, and appreciate all feedback as it helps us to continually inform and improve our services.
Finally, in line with our passenger charter we compensate customers if the train service is cancelled or delayed for over 30 minutes. Therefore, unfortunately on this occasion we cannot offer any compensation. We are very sorry if this is not the outcome you were hoping for.
On behalf of all at Hull Trains, I would like to thank you for your assistance and understanding in this case. I do hope that this has gone some way to explain the situation and can only apologise again and hope that you will continue to travel happily in the future with us.
Hull Trains Customer Services
Amused and possibly disturbed that Hull Trains only thought that the trains were “as safe as they can be” – they have twice caught fire in recent years. The service became so bad that most days more services were cancelled than actually ran for a while. It made the Metropolitan line look competent.
I have since taken down the Hell Trains website – too much work to make anything of it. Hull Trains are finally getting new trains at the end of this year, and there is another train company running there now…a handy 17:18 train too, with brand-new trains that have no working toilets.