Reporter Dale Haslam continues his regular blog on his daily train commute in and out of Bolton.

LAST Monday started off with frustration for train passengers boarding at Bolton.

For the fifth time in six months, the automatic ticket machines at the station failed, leading to a huge queue that stretched as far as Newport Street and leaving dozens of angry customers late for work.

So what was Northern Rail’s explanation for the queues? Christmas, of course!

“Wait,” I hear you say. “You mean that festive fun we had a whole month ago?”

Yes, that one, the celebration with Old Saint Nic, reindeer and presents (or, if you are a train commuter, ‘gifts’ of delays, cancellations and overcrowded carriages, but I digress).

According to a Northern Rail spokesman: “The queue was no doubt the result of a combination of Monday morning (season ticket) renewals and commuters returning to work after the festive break.”

Just to remind you, the date was January 20.

Seriously, though. What planet are these people living on?

When asked why the machines break so much, the spokesman said there was no specific reason, but when it does happen, they open extra ticket windows to try to move the queue along.

Fine, but why not get better machines? They can afford it from the ticket revenues.

Speaking of train companies’ obsession with taking every last penny out of us, they have a ticket seller (or ‘revenue protection officer’) at Bolton station who nabs people leaving the station, which is understandable enough in the circumstances.

But, when the machines break, surely it would make more sense for this chap to sell tickets to those getting on, to bring down that queue?

So, my advice to you is that, rather than dealing with the stress of getting to work this time next year, get a job at Northern Rail.

With its generous holiday times, you probably won’t even have to get out of bed until February.