Whenever I travel into VICE's London office, from Brighton to London, I have to do so using Southern Rail. It's a relatively straightforward route on paper, no changes necessary. But Southern is no straightforward train operator. Delayed trains. Cancelled trains. No trains whatsoever. Shortened trains. Stinking trains. Trains that say they're going to one destination but then change their mind to go somewhere else, only to then revert to the original plan after you've got off and switched to an alternative, slower service. I mean, I suppose I should be grateful that there are trains at all, at least some of the time.
Southern's network, which allegedly connects the English capital with a host of towns and cities in the south east, is in an absolute state. Commuters have held protests over the company's doing away with over weekly 340 services. Only 20 percent of Southern-operated trains arrived on time between March 2015 and April of this year. One service, the 7.29 between Brighton and London Victoria, a regularly packed affair that's standing room only unless you board at the speed of sound, didn't arrive on time once during the whole of 2014. Two-hundred-and-forty services, every one of them rolling into south London behind schedule.
A certifiable shit show is what it all is. And now you can have fun in front of your computer with a browser game directly inspired by said carnival of cock-ups. Southern Rail Tycoon , by RamJam, is dead simple: you click the passengers to earn money, and the guards to prevent them from boarding the services, sending them home and cancelling the trains in question.
And why is that A Thing? Because one of the biggest headaches Southern has right now is its plans to run trains without any guards whatsoever which, naturally, has seen the operator's staff strike twice in 2016 already. Quite why anyone in management thought that'd be a good idea is beyond me. What am I meant to do if I can't buy a ticket at the station? Just go and bug the driver to print me one off? I like the guard. The guard will shake me awake on the just-gone-midnight service home, ensuring I don't come around somewhere in the arsecrack of West Sussex. Sometimes the guard gets funny on the intercom, talking about stray umbrellas and what "leaves on the line" means in the locker room. I like the guard.
So if it's Friday afternoon where you are, slack off work for five minutes and give Southern Rail Tycoon a bash here. And then feel an almighty contentment wash over you because, however shitty your journey to and from work, be that by subway or bicycle or horse, it's probably a lot easier than mine's been these past couple of years.
(This article is entirely via this one at Eurogamer. Tom Phillips, I feel your pain, just the other way around.)