I wish the operators of British transport networks and ancillary services could see themselves as part of an integrated system, responsible to take passengers from start to end by doing their part of the journey well. When our visitors came up on Saturday, we had to drive to pick them up from Birmingham International railway station because otherwise they would have had a longer door to door journey and had to cope with at least two more changes and whatever last minute changes and cancellations the rail network threw up. That’s hard enough for the average person but issues with mobility and sensory impairments would have made it even more challenging.
So, a drive, but at least we had a carful so it was as efficient as a private motor vehicle can be. Then there was a wrinkle on the parking. The station has a good-sized, free short-term car park, which gets it marks above several other stations I can think of. However, there was no guidance on whether you can stay longer if the people you are meeting are delayed. We arrived just over ten minutes early and their train was going to be a little over ten minutes late so we were going to over-run the allowed twenty minutes.
In a sensible world, that would be no problem at all, particularly as there was no competition for space in the car park. However, the site was operated by NCP and, frankly, I don’t trust them to be sensible. To avoid having to fight a fine, I had to drive off and work out a way to circle around the unfamiliar territory until Jane called to say they were ready for the pickup. That’s mad! Really you want a system where you can park up to fifteen minutes before the train is due to arrive and stay for up to ten minutes after it has come in. It’s not as if you could leave your car to nip to the shops – from what I could see, the area is a bit of a desert in that respect otherwise I’d have aimed to find a quiet local street to wait in before making my first approach.
Oh, for a bit more joined up thinking!