The disruption to my commute was so persistent and severe, I decided to move several hundred miles away and took a pay cut to avoid the journey, writes our guest Jonathan Lee-Smith…
For two years I commuted daily from Blackpool to Manchester, using Northern Rail for all or part of each journey, but the regular disruption due to engineering works made me so unhappy I ultimately left my job and moved to another part of the country.
Between the summer of 2016 and 2018, I suffered regular problems with my daily commute – trains were either delayed, cancelled or overcrowded.
The standard time between the 2 stations is around 80 minutes for a journey of 50 miles, however this was rarely achieved.
Regularly my shift at work finished at 10pm in Manchester and I wouldn’t be getting home in Blackpool until after 1am.
Similar delays in the mornings, meant my working day including commute would regularly exceed 14 hours a day, and in the end I couldn’t hack it.
The cause of the delays were engineering works closing different parts of the line over this period.
Northern and Thameslink, whose passengers suffered as a result of disastrous timetable changes last year, were both ranked in the bottom three for customer satisfaction, alongside Southern.https://t.co/b8NpnyIsc8
— Which? (@WhichUK) January 25, 2019
The replacement buses were actually good, but it was the connecting services that were an issue.
They were horribly uncomfortable and difficult to rely on. These trains often had fewer carriages as well – meaning services were often overcrowded.
Hell on earth
I’m a great rail enthusiast, so criticising any element of the UK rail network does not fill me with pleasure – but my journey to and from work had become like hell on earth and it was affecting my personal life.
Before the problems started I used to have time to meet my friends in the pub for an hour or so. I couldn’t do that anymore. It made me tired and miserable. It was affecting my sleep.
I was just sleeping and working. It got to the point where I wasn’t happy with anything so I decided to make a change. I couldn’t offer the commitment to my employer; it wasn’t fair on them or me.
So I took a long hard look at the effect the commute was having on my work/life balance and my ability to carry out my job and realised none of it was worth it.
I gave up, quit my job and moved house. I needed a radical change – and a new job which wouldn’t involve so much commuting.
I ended up taking a job in Devon, living and working in a hotel, which is very different from what I was doing previously.
I had to leave all my friends and my social life behind. I’d built a decent career, been promoted twice and was earning a decent wage. Now I’m on two-thirds of what I was before, but don’t have to pay for travel.
This is a guest post by Jonathan Lee-Smith. All views expressed are Jonathan’s own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.
How reliable is your commute to work? Would you consider moving house or job to avoid a difficult journey to and from work? Please share your stories.
Commuters: is your rail commute often disrupted?
Yes – usually every week. (55%, 398 Votes)
Yes – every few weeks. (22%, 161 Votes)
It's a rare occurrence. (13%, 90 Votes)
No - no problems. (10%, 71 Votes)
Total Voters: 720