Now as far as I can remember, there was nothing particularly offensive about Thames Trains. They weren't any worse than any other operator. So what's changed? First Great Western Link (which runs services from Paddington through Reading towards Oxford) have introduced new rolling stock. Whoopee. Unfortunately it's new rolling stock that has fewer standard class seats. They are either (a) running fewer services or (b) running services without enough coaches. I have been to London twice since the new year, and on both occasions there have been as many passengers standing as sitting. I'm pretty pissed off with this. It's only half an hour from Reading to Paddington, but it puts you in the wrong frame of mind. And I'm travelling at a weekend, which according to all the train operators is when far fewer people travel on the trains, so I pity the daily commuters who have to put up with this service.
The mood of the passengers was really ugly, and it was close to a riot even without any train staff there. Had an inspector arrived they would have been lynched. I recall an interview on the Today programme with a director of the train operating companies association, who said, George Parr fashion, that the primary duty of the train operators wasn't to run services, it was to provide value to their shareholders. How they can do one without doing the other has become abundantly clear. There is no choice of service, even on a line where there used to be multiple operators running. There is no decent bus service from Reading to London. If you want to make that trip, a First Great Western train is the only choice apart from using the car (ha ha).
I am going to write and complain. I'm sure they'd much rather I phoned or e-mailed them, but frankly I'd rather they provided me with a seat when I pay for their transport service. I don't really see what I can achieve; in the old BR days it was fairly easy to gain travel vouchers by complaining, but the private sector bean-counters tend to fight these things more. At least I can be confident it will cost them as much in administration as I have paid for my journey. Please comment if you have any particularly special phrases you think could be used.