I've just been to the railway station to get a ticket for going to Bremen on Sunday. Now, predictably it was quite crowded and I had to queue for a quarter of an hour (which is much better than my brother who had to queue for an hour). In the process I got almost killed - or at least - squeezed by the sliding doors as the queue extended all the way to the outside of the ticket centre and naturally wasn't moving much most of the time. That much for my appreciation of sliding doors.
As the witless railway company recently changed their whole pricing system and timetable just in time for all the winter holiday travel, the situation is a complete mess everywhere. Of course the changes to the pricing system are for the worse. Their propaganda will obviously state the opposite and their bossessentially called everbody claiming otherwise an idiot earlier this year in some paper. Still, unless you want to book your restricted- to- one- particular- train- stay- over- the- weekend- return- long- distance- ticket ages in advance, take a couple of people, including your children, with you, you seem to pay at least as much as you used to. Just imagine the advantages this brings for spontaneous mid-distance one-way journeys on your own. Riiiight.
What's best is that the people selling the ticket have to take the pain of explaining all this to people and thus it's very busy. They were making an effort though and were reasonably friendly. The connection I tried to book unfortunately requires me to change trains on the way and I want to meet my brother on the second train. He already booked a seat and so I tried to get one close to him. Doing this proved possible (more than I expected) but rdiculously complicated and time consuming: The lady had to look up the kind of train and then manually check each seat number in the coach. We both weren't in for that, so after giving up this plan and choosing another, direct, train instead which only had smoking seats left, which I didn't want either, I actually got a seat on the same coach as my brother - the one the system randomly offered. Strange, isn't it?
Looking at the poor lady entering all the data over and over again, reminded me once more of bad software UI design. They even manage to do it in terminal based applications! Talking of bad UIs, I also saw the new UI they have on the ticket vending machines. While the old one already seemed quite complicated to me and was a bit braindead in interpreting your touchscreen inputs, the new one is not only uglier but asks you zillions of questions on as may seperate screens before offering any information. Those programmers deserve a serious beating.
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