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 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 13:23 GMT
The view from our rail champ
Jon Yuill, BBC News Online's rail commuters' champion, logs his thoughts about the wrongs and occasional rights of our rail system

Monday 6 January

New year, old gripes

It's the big back-to-work day after Christmas and New Year and the rail companies are rewarding us with increased fares - prices changed on Sunday.

Elected: Jon Yuill was voted BBC News Online's rail commuters' champion by users of the site
Voice: His role is to speak up for the beleaguered commuter
Commute: Married with three children, Jon commutes by train between Witham (Essex) and London
So, in return for their generosity, I thought it would be nice to offer the collective rail network some new year's resolutions.

1) Let's start by asking the operating companies to call us passengers. Not customers.

2) Our old friend INFORMATION. Signalmen speaking to drivers. Drivers speaking to passengers. So simple. So beyond them last year.

3) Knowing that the cold weather is about to kick in, let's make sure that something as basic as frozen points doesn't stop thousands of people getting to or from work. Think. It's 2003. A quarter of a century since we landed on the moon. Yet within weeks, lumps of frozen antiquated iron will bring misery to millions.

4) Talking of harsh weather, could this be the year when trains with regulated heaters that actually work are introduced?

5) When trains arrive more than 10 minutes late, how about a little "savvy" being employed and opening the cattle gates to speed passengers through?

6) Accountability. Yes, it would be nice. Don't hold your breath.

7) Punctuality. Trains that arrive within five minutes of the advertised time. Consistently. Too much to ask for?

8) More carriages. Less standing. A good start would be to follow Chiltern Railways' move and replace the (mostly empty) first class carriages with standard.

9) Staff on trains, even randomly, to offer more security. And I don't mean sitting in the rear compartment reading the Sun.

10) I know this is selfish, but finally, please, sort out the now legendary stench of platform 12. (Liverpool St regulars will know what I'm driving at.)

So there you are. A simple wish-list which would make us all so much happier in 2003, as we part with our increased fares. Without being too pessimistic, I imagine this list of resolutions will go the same way as my gym membership.

This year, as part of my "log", I'll be keeping an eye on the performance of the companies involved in my own daily return journey from Witham to Liverpool Street. Unlike the "official" figures, mine will be based on reality. When they get it right, I'll be the first to congratulate them. The other 90%, I'll be watching.

I returned to work last Thursday. So far, I've clocked up over thirty-five minutes in delays in just two days. Not bad going. Years ago, someone calculated the average time we spend sitting at red traffic lights waiting for them to change. It came to several years of your life. I wonder how long all the minutes of delay add up to on the railways? Don't even go there.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday 24 December

Thanks for the feedback

After the first Yuill Log, the e-mails have simply flooded in. Both of them. Actually, many hundreds, with the sort of majority of sentiment you only get in an Iraqi election, reflecting the desperation of the travelling public. Not a single operating company escaped your wrath.

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