A couple of times my commute has included the #timetunneltrain. As a passenger it was a little awkward at first, but turned in to good fun.

Steve the driver reads out clues across the speaker system in the carriages, and passengers have to guess a year that is the common answer. If you’re inclined, you can tweet the answer using the hashtag, and connect with a few fellow passengers, online. Or offline, if you’re feeling un-British and want to talk to the people you share a carriage with.

I’m the first to encourage giving staff a public voice, and to do something fun or different.

In between flicking through my phone, any ambient noise is welcome, over and above posters for charities inside the carriage that just make me feel guilty, or the endless safety notices.

However, I’m not sure how I’d feel about #timetunneltrain after a bad run of delays or cancellations. Perhaps Steve chooses his days carefully, but looking around the carriages, I’d be surprised if everyone feels as warm to this idea as Twitter appears to.

Steve is doing this of his own volition and I imagine it’s difficult for Southern to control something like this. You could argue that it is great to see staff within a big organisation being creative, but it could be seen as something that Southern shouldn’t be encouraging. Train companies need to run a safe and efficient service. Anything else is a distraction, and most definitely not a priority.

The challenge for Southern is to ensure they, and particular their marketeers and social media managers, don’t try and ride off the back of this. And, in the event of delays and leaves on the line, they’ll need a plan to manage upset commuters further riled by one employee’s best intentions.

You can hear the experience for yourself:

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