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1  Journey by Journey / Thames Valley Branches / Re: Thames Valley Branch line ticket facilities on: May 11, 2017, 03:05:49 pm
"Marlow is probably one of the most basic stations you can find. A very small shelter and open platform."

Ditto Wargrave, absolutely no ticket buying facilities at the station and if there is someone to buy a ticket from on the train they usually get off at Twyford a very few minutes after you board.
2  Journey by Journey / Thames Valley Branches / Re: Henley line improvements - May 2017 on: March 27, 2017, 11:28:20 am
Mrs May is indeed involved and pushing Mark Hopwood very hard on this, there have been meeting with her and much correspondence flowing.  Her local MP (Member of Parliament) responsibilities continue alongside her role as PM, however, her view does probably carry a little more weight.

The changes were supposed to be a short term measure as a 30 minute shuttle is possible once the line is electrified.  However, the change has been brought-in and electrification delayed.  There is currently no firm date for electrification of the line.

Wargrave is skipped ahead of Shiplake due to trains being able to accelerate quicker when stopping at Shiplake,, but I agree Shiplake and Wargrave have similar profiles so it would be fairer to skip each alternatively.

I appreciate the benefits for Henley, but I’m sure you would be disappointed if your local station started to receive a reduced service for the benefit of others.  Arriving at Twyford to find that the next Henley service does not stop at Wargrave and hence having to wait for it to go and come back before you catch it does not feel like a good experience or a minor inconvenience.

Many Wargrave residents are concerned about where this could go.  Reduced service results in less passengers choosing to use the station which results in GWR (Great Western Railway) saying there is not the demand for the station resulting in the service being further reduced or stopped.  We already know they struggle to count the number of users so who knows what stats they could come up with to justify further reductions.
3  Journey by Journey / Thames Valley Branches / Re: Henley line improvements - May 2017 on: March 27, 2017, 07:58:43 am
Yes, a much welcome improvement.   45-minute frequencies are a nightmare to remember as they don't repeat themselves for four hours, 30-minute frequencies are a doddle to remember. 

Even for Wargrave, I would suggest an hourly service is actually better than the current 45-minute off-peak frequency as it's easy to remember, as long as a more frequent peak service is offered at a similar level to today, and that will indeed be the case.

Living in Wargrave I and just about every other local user I have spoken to would disagree with you.....

Our local MP (Member of Parliament) and Prime Minister is protesting hard on our behalf to GWR (Great Western Railway).  We already get a second class service during the Henley Regatta, this now appears to being extended for the full year.  I didn't see a reduction in my season ticket price as a result of either not being able to travel at peak times during Regatta (Wargrave stops missed and no link with the London Service) and now for a reduction in frequency off-peak.  I have voted with my feat and not renewed, choosing instead to drive into London.  Maybe when Crossrail and electrification are complete I will look to move back to the train. 

The usage stats GWR use to justify the changes are somewhat flawed, the difference in numbers travelling to Henley are skewed by a) counting Regatta week high usage when Wargrave is already missed from 50%+ of the schedule; and b) no ticket purchasing facilities at Wargrave meaning collating numbers travelling from the station difficult.  Passenger counts by local users at Wargrave show much higher usage of the station than the GWR stats, including at off peak times.
4  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Railway towns on: March 10, 2017, 08:29:54 am
Derby is a City, less of this "town"!!!!
5  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Infrastructure problems in Thames Valley causing disruption elsewhere - ongoing, since Oct 2014 on: November 25, 2014, 11:42:49 am
We can start the December thread on Monday.......
6  Journey by Journey / Thames Valley Branches / Re: Twyford to Henley branch line - services, timetables, incidents and improvements on: November 16, 2014, 08:58:29 pm
I would question what proportion of the Henley annual usage occurs during the Regatta when there is already an enhance Henley service at the cost of stops at Wargrave and how many additional passengers would be recorded at Wargrave if there were ticket buying facilities at the station......
7  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Thames Valley signalling problems - big delays - July 2014 on: August 04, 2014, 01:00:31 pm
FGW (First Great Western) have slipped nosedived in the support/back up of their staff. Its all "customer first" and "kiss the backside of the customer" and "Sod the employee they are but a number".

I feel that we customers are treated badly by FGW so goodness knows what it must feel like to be one of their employees. My own perception of FGW is along the lines of "kiss the backside of the once-yearly Glastonbury traveller and sod everyone else including annual season ticket holders, particularly the poor Cardiff/Newport people who see their train service cut by 50% while the Festival is on".

Thank You to all FGW staff who have posted here and yes I'm guilty of sometimes letting off steam especially to the operators of the @FGW Twitter account but I'm always polite and I thank them. I'd be very interested to know what response staff get from the MD regarding last Friday's problems because I'm not aware of any word to customers regarding last week's events.


Agreed, and to add the Henley/Wargrave/Shiplake season ticket holders are equally ignored during Henley Regatta. 
8  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Thames Valley signalling problems - big delays - July 2014 on: July 27, 2014, 05:22:51 pm
That what we have is completely unacceptable and to identify a solution that a persuasive business case can be built for.

Maybe we need to get the guys in who build/manage the network in Germany where I am pretty sure these issues don't occur, standards of living are higher and prices lower.
9  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Thames Valley signalling problems - big delays - July 2014 on: July 27, 2014, 05:08:26 pm
There goes that mind-set again. That's the one that I am saying need changing before we will see the radical change that we need....
10  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Thames Valley signalling problems - big delays - July 2014 on: July 27, 2014, 04:29:37 pm
Thanks for all the "experts" for coming along and telling why it couldn't be done as I predicted!

This reminds me of my last assignment, I was part of a team looking into large scale issues in a subsidiary of a large (as it happens state owned) parent.  Those in the business had looked at it and told us on day one that a completely new system and structure would be needed but that the numbers to support doing this didn't add up.  I left a week ago after just over two years, the new system and structure was in place and service levels improved to an acceptable level.  The business case pretty much wrote itself once we had done the analysis.

Sometimes it just needs fresh eyes to come at a problem from a different perspective.  The same people looking to fix the issues they have unsuccessfully been trying to resolve for years will rarely deliver the radical solution that is required.
11  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Thames Valley signalling problems - big delays - July 2014 on: July 27, 2014, 03:10:48 pm
You build a business case case based on investment, pay-back period, and reduced cost in the future. You are right a tough sell politically where anything that pays back beyond the current parliament is normally not viewed as positive. However, it can be done someone ran some numbers for HS2 (The next High Speed line(s)) and managed to build a business case for investment with payback over a much longer period than Reading to Paddington line would require.

I genuinely believe it is about mindsets.  Fifteen years ago I remember my tube journeys having a similar failure rate to what I experience now using FGW (First Great Western).  Management and had the same couldn't care less, like it or lump it, attitude as we currently see with FGW and NR» (Network Rail - home page). There has been a real attitude change there. Investment that someone had to build a business case for has happened. The failure rate is now much less than it was (although still higher than I would like).

Hopefully, the type of thinking I am describing was applied to the Crossrail and electrification planning....

12  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Thames Valley signalling problems - big delays - July 2014 on: July 27, 2014, 02:48:43 pm
That's exactly one of the "expert" responses we normally get, usually the first. When we do the analysis we normally we find we are already paying the cost of building in resilience, if not more, when we cost the impact of the down time.
13  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Thames Valley signalling problems - big delays - July 2014 on: July 27, 2014, 02:27:00 pm
I think that many commuters have experience in jobs/organisations where the level of service offered by NR» (Network Rail - home page) and FGW (First Great Western) would be completely unacceptable but many in the rail industry simply cannot see that the current service level is unacceptable and believe that down-time is just something that will happen on the railways - hence the often polarised views on sites such as this . 

To me the issue on Friday, and many of those previously, was not the trigger event e.g. lightning strike/points failure etc., but that the network has so many single points of failure.  Can you imagine the customer outcry if banking, mobile phone, supermarkets, gas pipelines, airlines, traffic lights etc. had a failure rate the same as the line between Paddington and Reading?  The attitude from FGW was "it was a lightning strike what do you expect us to do about that", to which my answer is "build into your network the fact that equipment will be struck by lightning and have a contingency plan", I can accept the network going dark for a short while but a predictable event causing disruption on the scale and with the duration of Friday night/Saturday morning surely cannot be viewed as acceptable by anyone?

In most industries you plan for key equipment failures and build in resilience, this is a concept that appears to be alien to the rail industry.  I'm sure the "experts" will be along to tell us why this is the case shortly, however, in the industries I have worked and consulted in there has always been those "experts" that have told us that we have to accept that some events are going to happen that will result in failure to provide service.  Almost without exception we have engineered solutions with resilience that ensure that there are no single points of failure.   Yes, you do get down-times but these are usually triggered when multiple trigger events coincide and almost never by a single predictable event.

Moving forward I believe two things need to change:

- The attitude and thinking from those in the rail industry who have "always done it this way" and that service outage is part and parcel of running a railway service
- Benefit analysis of investment cost of building in resilience vs. cost of putting right failure/reputational risk

For everyone who tells me it can't be done I bet we can find a network overseas where it is.....
14  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Thames Valley signalling problems - big delays - July 2014 on: July 18, 2014, 08:25:01 am
Further signalling problems at Hayes this morning delayed me by about 30 mins. 

This is proving to be a very bad week, my once per week average has now been blown out of the water.  We need four/five good weeks now to get it back down to that....
15  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Thames Valley signalling problems - big delays - July 2014 on: July 17, 2014, 06:13:44 pm
I'm currently sat on the main line just outside of Pad. Theey are running normally. That is we moving very slowly between each signal as they seem to most days.
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