Virgin Trains has announced that it hopes to see an overnight improvement in its dire performance simply by refusing to adjust its business operation back to Greenwich Mean Time this weekend.
‘It’s genius,’ declared head of Virgin Trains, Tony Collins. ‘From Monday, our trains will arrive almost on time, our sandwiches will no longer look like a packed lunch for the undead, and we’ll get an extra hour to submit bids for bringing our special brand of arrogant incompetence to other parts of the rail network.’
Asked whether customers are likely to see a cost benefit from the decision not to put its clocks back, Collins said: ‘Of course. Absolutely. From now on, if you buy a ticket at 3pm it will be the same price as it was at 2pm.’
Experts have been quick to point out that this offer could be more generous than Virgin realises.
Frank Ingram is Professor of Understanding Train Fares at the University of Sussex. He said: ‘When one considers the pernicious and deliberately incomprehensible way in which operators screw those passengers who weren’t organised enough to have booked their seats when they were children, there could in fact be quite a saving from buying a ticket an hour earlier.’
Last year, Virgin Trains was the least punctual train operator over the Christmas period, managing just 80% on-time service. In 2010, the operator achieved only 65% punctuality. Its bid to secure the recent Santa Claus contract failed to make it past the pre-qualification stage.
‘That was disappointing,’ said Collins, ‘but trains is what we get wrong best. Brilliant ideas like this are why I’m proud to be leading the company from its dark days of being despised by an utterly powerless travelling public to full-steam-ahead Casey Jones diddly-dum-diddly-dee averageness.
‘The whole Virgin Trains board is fully behind this. We’re giving it 89%.’