Talk about setting yourself up for a fall: rail passengers who use services between London Waterloo and the West Country are to be consulted on what they think of the South-West Trains franchise. This is to discover "what would encourage passengers to use the service more", according to the BBC.
So - to take a perfectly hypothetical example that isn't, repeat isn't, burning fresh in Londonist's memory - if you have parents in Dorset, and the overcrowded train you used to return from the Christmas break was mysteriously taken out of service at Salisbury, with no reason given as to why, and you were advised to take a train to Basingstoke instead, you would have an opportunity to let South-West Trains know exactly what you think would improve their franchise. A simple, cheap action plan could be drawn up, involving the SWT directors and a blunt instrument. Londonist - sorry, I mean "the person in the hypothetical scenario" - isn't looking for miracles, but a few friendly announcements about exactly what the bleedin' heck was going on would have been nice.
Another idea to improve the franchise would be to scrap the new timetable that SWT introduced last month. Londonist is aware that drawing up another new timetable is an expensive and time-consuming business. Fortunately, we have saved them the trouble and have an alternative already prepared! It's called the "South-West Trains timetable 2004" and, it can be confidently predicted, will work fine.
However, this would undo SWT's quite brilliant scheme to reduce train lateness in the new timetable, which is to ... make all the journeys from Waterloo to Exeter longer! Genius!
Imagine Londonist's eagerness to share these proposals and many more - such as, perhaps consulting rail users before a major timetable shake-up - with SWT. Only to discover that none of the meetings will be held in London. After all, why on Earth would any users of the SWT service between the West Country and London Waterloo live in London? It's so difficult to get to from the South-West.