It’s not much of a secret that there are parts of Transport for London and members of its senior management who find me an unamusing and annoying pain in the arse.
I have it on good authority from a number of reputable sources that this group includes transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy – a man whose taxi expenses, taxpayer funded fine wines and high mobile phone use I’ve repeatedly dragged into the glare of public scrutiny.
What you (and he) may not have picked up over the years is that I actually think Sir Peter does a good job for Londoners, I just wished he and other TfL grandees cost them a bit less.
For almost a decade Sir Peter has, with the backing and political cover provided by two robust and publicly loyal Mayors, dragged TfL’s component operations into a coherent, integrated, modern and public service that exists for no purpose other than to ensure Londoners and visitors get where they need to go on time and for relatively little cost.
One of the innovations and improvements that Sir Peter and his team have delivered in that time is the London Overground – quite simply one of the best ways to travel by rail anywhere in the UK.
If there’s anyone who should know what a decent passenger-focused rail service looks like, and conversely what a “shit”, money-grabbing one looks like, it’s him.
So it’s disappointing to learn that the commissioner has now apologised for his highly accurate assessment of London’s private sector train operators who let down their passengers on an hourly basis and with almost no sign of meaningful remorse.
Let’s remember, this shower are so poor that even the business lobby thinks they should sod off and let TfL take over their routes.
My own personal favourite poster boy of incompetence is South West trains which on at least 3 occasions in recent weeks hasn’t had a driver available for services leaving Waterloo.
I travel infrequently and at different times of the day so it’s difficult to believe it’s just random bad luck on my part to board a crew-less train.
At least when it happened yesterday someone had the good grace to apologise, but experience tells me this is pretty much seen as a optional extra.
For all the times I’ve been sat waiting for a delayed train or a driver to bother to turn up and actually drive, I cheered and continue to cheer Sir Peter’s choice of words to describe the performance of these outfits and the misery they inflict on often captive customers.
So apt was his use of the word “shit” that I’m even thinking of petitioning the custodians of our dictionaries to adopt “private sector commuter rail operators” as its official definition.
And, awkward and contrary to the last, I’m going to continue agreeing with Sir Peter on this point even if he no longer seems to agree with himself.
It’s just a shame that some train operators are keener on leaking what I’m told was a private email from Sir Peter than they are on issuing their own, more justified, apologies.