Posts Tagged ‘e-ticket’

From Poznan to London – part 1

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

A virtual train journey.


PKP’s InterCity e-ticketing system is a joke

As regular readers of BTWT will know, I hate plane travel.

My feeling of oppression starts at the airport. Stressed plane travellers – struggling vainly with luggage and kids, send out the same extra-sensory signals as wounded animals. Their vibrations mix with the hunting signals sent out by machine gun carrying policemen and testosterone charged security operatives. The conflicting waves hit my own receptors like radio interference. My body wants to fight or flee. My brain tells me that either course of action is likely to be suicidal. My heart pumps. My blood pressure crosses the red safety line. During the next three hours, as security and safety announcements follow one after another, I age another biological year.

Train travel is different. Nobody orders me to take off my shoes or confiscates my bottle of drinking water. Nobody straps me into my seats or implies that, if my neighbour forgets to switch his mobile off, the train will derail and plough into the next motorway bridge. Train staff are, by and large, genuinely friendly and helpful. Passengers travelling in the same compartment, or leaning against the same bar in the restaurant car, are usually happy to exchange a few words or even an entire life story.

So I thought that I would treat myself, practice what I preach and travel from Poznan to London by train. Live a little, and have a drink at the champagne bar at St Pancras. I set my myself a budget of 100 euro for a single journey. Now where to start?

I know that PKP’s InterCity operated Jan Kiepura train from Warsaw includes carriages that go as far West as Cologne. so the logical place to buy a ticket would be on-line via the InterCity website. Right? Wrong. The PKP InterCity web site is clunky and demanding. You must be registered on our site. Why? I just want to look up the ticket price. Oh well, Here goes! Password must have eight characters. Password must include numerical characters. Passport number? After 15 minutes of this sort of thing I’m informed that there is a computer error. I try again. I’m in!

Feeling like the David character in the 1983 children’s thriller War Games. I enter Poznan as my starting point. Poznan Gorcz or Poznan Gl? Where the heck is Poznan Gorcz? I choose GL. I enter Koln as my destination. The system whirrs round and round. Nothing! I try Kolonia and Cologne in quick sucession. Nothing! In desperation I try Berlin. Nothing. I navigate back to the start page and read the FAQs.

Is it possible to buy a ticket for an international train?

It would not be simple to implement this feature, because it would be necessary for the e-IC system to interwork with systems of other countries. International trains will be added at a later date.

I cursed whoever procured this useless e-ticket system. I cursed the idiot who implemented it. Time to go back to the begining. In the case of European rail travel there is no one better to go to than The Man in Seat Sixty One. What does his website seek to do?

First, it sets out to HELP people who already know they want to travel by train or ship, but who can’t find out about it through normal commercial websites or travel agencies. Many people prefer the experience of train travel, are afraid of flying, or simply want to avoid unnecessary flights for environmental reasons, but information can often be difficult if not impossible to find. Second, it aims to INSPIRE people to do something more rewarding with their lives and their travel opportunities than going to an airport, getting on a globalised airliner and missing all the world has to offer. There’s more to travel than the destination. It used to be called a j o u r n e y

At last someone who understands me!

Dear Man, where have you been all my life?

In seat 61.

More tomorrow.