Great Western Coffee Shop

All across the Great Western territory => Smoke and Mirrors => Topic started by: Lee on October 05, 2007, 11:10:05 am

Title: RAIL Article Tells FGW & Network Rail To "End Shambles"
Post by: Lee on October 05, 2007, 11:10:05 am
Link from the Save The Train Forum.

Quote from the RAIL article :

"It's not all FGW's fault, of course. Yes, it needs to make sure that the farcical shenanigans over fares, overcrowding, rolling stock shortages and the appalling neglect and jaw-droppingly crass management of the west country branch lines (which previous operator National express "Wessex" had re-juvinated) are never repeated."

Title: Re: RAIL Article Tells FGW & Network Rail To "End Shambles"
Post by: Lee on October 08, 2007, 10:45:54 am
A view from a Network Rail employee :

Hi all,

Yes, I read that article. How typical of FGW to blame everybody else except themselves for the mess that they themselves have largly created. Network Rail is not perfect, but at least we admit to our mistakes and work positively and very hard to rectify them. It's not going to happen overnight (or at all in FGW's case!) but things are a whole world better than they were five years ago, and continue to impove. We put our money into improving the infrastructue, not employing poets for railway stations!

Thames Trains was another TOC taken over by FGW. Thames Trains run a good efficient service. Fast forward to today. Same trains on the same lines serving the same stations. The only factor that has changed is that FGW took them over - now look at the appaling service they provide (or don't in some cases!) It seems everything they touch becomes worse.

A Mail On Sunday article several weeks ago, by a First Group employee gives a good example about how they blame anything and everybody else. The employee had carried out a survey on suicides in the area and how they extensively delayed their services and caused widespread disruption. How crass is it to blame mentally unblalanced, and now dead people? And how easy, as their targets cannot answer back! A well run and efficient service would not suffer too greatly as a result of this unfortunate type of incident.
The blame gets passed regularly - almost like they have their own spin doctor in fact!

A school of thought says FGW will take over parts of Network Rail especially the signalling. Given their 'Midas touch' at taking over other areas, is this a wise thing? All the hard work that Network Rail have put in and the improvements we have made, will simply stop, and probably start to go in decline. If anything, it should be the other way round - Network Rail take over FGW. We have well trainned professional people, who like my colleagues and I, just want to run a timely efficient service - and we don't have share-holders to satisfy and pay a premium to. Profits ploughed back into the business will vastly improve it and quickly.

My colleagues and I find it incredulous that FGW still holds a franchise to run trains.

Title: Re: RAIL Article Tells FGW & Network Rail To "End Shambles"
Post by: Lee on October 20, 2007, 10:29:06 am
An interesting response from CJ Harrison :

Frankly, Sumila, your post is little more than gross hypocrisy, scattered liberally with inaccuracies, evasions and general factual errors.

First, First Great Western do not blame everyone else for their mistakes. Alison Forster consistently maintained that FGW made errors of judgement and she apologised for those and the inconvenience they caused. She did so via letters put out on the trains, messages on the website, publicly at meetings and on local television. Such apologies may not help passengers who have experienced poor levels of service, but it runs counter to your claim. It also stands in direct contrast to Network Rail who hide behind the scenes rather than engage directly with customers.

Second, you say you put ^your^ money into improving infrastructure rather than ^employing poets^. The use of the word ^your^ is misleading. Unlike First Great Western, Network Rail is massively subsidised by the taxpayer: in other words, you do not really have any money of your own because you are not a proper commercial organisation. First Great Western, on the other hand, are not subsidised and ^ in addition to paying track access charges to Network Rail ^ they are paying over ^1bn in premium payments. As such, it really isn^t any of Network Rail^s ^ or anyone else^s ^ business what a private company decides to spend its own money on. In any case, the cost of employing the poet, if indeed there was a financial cost, would be miniscule in comparison to the ^200m of investment FGW is putting into the franchise.

Third, blaming suicides for delays is not crass ^ it is a matter of objective fact. For obvious reasons suicides and accidental fatalities do cause major delays and it just so happens that last year one out of every three fatalities on the rail network occurred on routes into and out of Paddington. Moreover, there was one week in July of this year when there were four fatalities in four days between Paddington and Slough. Stating this is not disrespectful to those who died or to their families ^ for whom everyone has the utmost sympathy ^ it^s just stating what happens to be true. You claim that a well run and efficient service would not suffer too greatly from suicides. What utter tripe. Suicides can close lines for hours, take rolling stock and staff out of service and have a terrible knock on effect to all other services on the network. They wreak havoc with even the most efficient and effective of operations.

Fourth, Network Rail^s performance is nowhere near as good as you try to paint it. For May of this year Network Rail caused a UK total of around 58,000 delay minutes: just over 29,000 of those were on the Great Western route. Let^s be clear: these are delays that are caused by the failure of your infrastructure and are nothing whatsoever to do with First Great Western. That is a terrible record and one underlined by the Office of the Rail Regulator^s statement that: ^performance for First Great Western services continues to suffer from very high levels of delays attributed to Network Rail^. On a national basis you will find that in Q1 of this year (the most recent period for which full data are available) your delays were 2.1% WORSE than the previous year. That is a DETEROIRATION in performance which hardly supports your claim that things are getting better. Just to underline this whole point, perhaps you will recall when, in April of this year, Network Rail grossly underestimated the amount of engineering work required in Wales and as a result overran by a whole week meaning there were no services to or from Swansea. No, I am sorry to say that Network Rail is hardly a paragon of efficiency.

Finally, your point about profits only demonstrates your economic ignorance. I have written about this extensively elsewhere if you care to improve your understanding.

None of what I have written here is to try and claim that FGW is blame free, nor should it be interpreted as indicating that Network Rail is the cause of all problems on the network. To be very fair, often Network Rail is a victim of the same half-baked system that the government imposed on the rail industry that creates so many issues for FGW.

That said, I do think, Sumila, that people in glass houses should not throw stones and it is disingenuous to the extreme that Network Rail should stand in judgement of First Great Western^s performance when your own is anything but laudable.

Title: Re: RAIL Article Tells FGW & Network Rail To "End Shambles"
Post by: Lee on October 20, 2007, 12:40:53 pm
Save The Train takes it to the extreme.

Listing every single cancellation without bothering to question why and see that it might not be FGWs fault is simply petty.

As you can see , the views in this topic are taken from the Save The Train Forum , where I can assure Liam (definately his quote this time) that they question issues of performance / cancellations and whose fault they might be in quite some detail. They also strive to make sure that both sides of the story (in this case Network Rail's versus FGW's) are put forward so that forum readers can make up their own mind.

Title: Re: RAIL Article Tells FGW & Network Rail To "End Shambles"
Post by: devon_metro on October 20, 2007, 06:42:49 pm
I must be thinking of the wrong forum, the one i mean is the one that organised the fare strike.

Title: Re: RAIL Article Tells FGW & Network Rail To "End Shambles"
Post by: Jim on October 20, 2007, 09:47:22 pm
I must be thinking of the wrong forum, the one i mean is the one that organised the fare strike.


Title: Re: RAIL Article Tells FGW & Network Rail To "End Shambles"
Post by: grahame on October 21, 2007, 08:06:55 am
I must be thinking of the wrong forum, the one i mean is the one that organised the fare strike.


"Save the Train" (STT) was established quite a while before "More Train, Less Strain" and indeed MTLS was mentioned on the STT web site early on - with the somewhat embarrasing result that web searches for MTLS took you to the STT website for a while.  At one stage, our office was quite busy re-directing a load of press calls!

I'm glad to report that the MTLS web site is now ranked higher than STT in Google when you search for their name.   Usually I like to get high Google rankings, but I will make the odd exception!

Speaking now very carefully ... as I do NOT speak for MTLS.   But it appears to me that the campaigns differ substantially - MTLS are far more political in their desires, and far more radical in their actions than STT. 

I CAN speak with some authority for STT - the much preferred route to reach our objective of an appropriate service on the TransWilts line is to work with the existing system - the DfT. FGW, W(C)C, Network Rail and so on, though influencing their decisons in a direction which is, frankly, sensible for all.

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