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June 17, 2019, 11:33:53 am *
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[95] Does anyone know of a bus station that they actually like?
[78] Standard to 1st Class excess. Dependent on who and how you ask...
[56] Biggest investment since the Victorians....
[49] New images
[41] What would YOU put into railway / travel room 101??
[41] "The Coffee Shop" - moving forward through the next ...
News: A forum for passengers ... with input from rail professionals welcomed too
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1  All across the Great Western territory / Introductions and chat / Re: "The Coffee Shop" - moving forward through the next decade. on: Today at 06:27:59 am
Updating this "sticky" thread at the top of the forum introduction and unlocking it to allow comment / question too - we now (June 2019) have a constitution in place, ratified at our AGM and we are working well forward more or less as proposed. A whole raft of ideas have been thrown up - directional, organisational, management and financial and from that raft some have been selected, others placed on hold and still others rejected. And when doing something new in association (perhaps close association) with others, concerns may be raised in places that need to be clarified / addressed. One such area where a clarification is useful is how our community is and will be working with rail in partnership, and how our agendae at our initial and general meetings considered desribing and implementing that in terms of pressing (actually not!) for early ACoRP membership.  Text follows, tidied up from an email answer sent a few days ago and 'chewed over' by the admin / moderator team.

The Coffee Shop is an example of how community and rail can work in partnership. Describing it in that way gives a clear flag of how it's positioned to newcomers who don't know us.  Such a soundbite is useful because we're an unusual 'beast', with other online groups taking a much more protest than partner approach, and 'real life' groups taking a much more localised approach. These approaches are general directions; they do not stop the forum being the critical friend, nor of us highlighting town / line specific issues.

The Coffee Shop is run purely by volunteers (without employees), has no formal local government involvement (though some members have local government roles), does not have a specific line / line group / service it works with, so has no station adoption buildings / safety certificate. Which does place it outside the guidelines of what would be expected of an organisation applying to be a full member of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships.  As part of our definition, we laid down overall objectives in the constitution, which was ratified earlier this month. The purposes of the Group are: * providing a voice for the community * promoting sustainable, healthy and accessible travel * bringing communities together, supporting diversity & inclusion * supporting social and economic development ...  which seem to us to both reflect our approach, and to line us up with the pillars going forward for Community Rail, if not the conditions of membership of ACoRP. 

This closeness to and agreement with the new Community Rail Pillars, yet the issues described above which currently preclude membership of the association, have given rise to concern in some quarters. So - an open comment for anyone reading this who was not at the AGM to re-assure them that the Coffee Shop is very much an example of the community working in partnership with rail, but that as things stand we do not have "becoming an ACoRP member" with all that requires on our objectives.  Indeed, I would be very wary of recommending we make changes to fit the current rules. Of course, we don't know how we (or they) may move forward in the future and with objectives and ethoses that line up, who knows?
2  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Standard to 1st Class excess. Dependent on who and how you ask. on: Today at 06:09:57 am
I got the opposite end of the spectrum at Neath the other Wednesday (First Class is always better when there's free wine on the way home). Greeted with "your usual, sir?"  Cool Maybe York just doesn't have enough people who've figured out when excesses are extremely good value.

Maybe the opposite end of the spectrum, but some spectra turn out to be circles with the beginning and end in the same place.

Could it just be that your excess is so unusual and rarely done the the good staff of Neath identify you as a notable customer by your purchase in amongst the great sea of similarity they see on a daily basis?

I don't have a regular journey / regular excessing habits, but I do use the facility from time to time.  And I find that the level of knowledge amongst staff of these products and how to set them is often lacking, with there being no clear way on (many?) ticket machines to consistently and accurately issue them.   If a price comes in as being rather silly, I consider it to be an offer and will chat about how it's worked out;  not infrequently that results in a more reasonably priced way of doing it being found.   Funny things, excesses.
3  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Where were Finn and I today, 15th June 2019? on: Yesterday at 04:37:22 pm
One of my brothers lives on the riverside near the Dunston Staithes, he’d probably say the frequent bus service into Newcastle from the area around Dunston station was generally far more relevant to people than the train.

There’s a pattern developing here, I mentioned in Grahame’s “tales from the northeast” a little while ago that my other brother doesn’t ever use his local station of Chathill...


Does your sister live near Teeside Airport by any chance ...
4  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Biggest investment since the Victorians.... on: Yesterday at 01:59:41 pm
Perhaps Mark Hopwood, now that he is a member of this forum, is best placed to substantiate his company's claims and will lay out the evidence for us?
I do wonder whether we expect too much of organisations to justify or respond to things that get raised in social media discussions (and I think that goes beyond this forum or the railway industry).  It's a bit of marketing fluff - and surely in the grand scheme of things is one of the less important things that we could be asking a response for from GWR management. 

I have so much to add ...

This forum has changed - moved forward - over the years and one of the elements where we have been doing that is in setting up routes and dialogues for discussion.   The past couple of days has been intensely valuable in helping that along, and yet at the same time it "merely" built on the groundwork we had or were having in place. We have communication channels that I've not seen reflected in social media groups in other parts of the UK - but then I'm not party to their internals.  And those communication channels include a "checkpoint" every 3 months so that we can pick up on outstanding issues (and raise new ones and new ideas) both ways.

Great Western employs around 6000 staff.  For sure, most are operational but then a considerable number are either managerial or specialist too, and you / we cannot expect the "head poncho" to be able to instantly and unprepared answer a question on what any has been said or done by any of them.  Nor can we expect him to be the one who answers everything and anything that comes his way - I want him to get on with running a darned good railway, motivating his staff, negotiating an excellent setup for his passengers, giving his managerial overview and direction where it's best employed - helping connect things.  So - on "the largest investment since Victorian Times" and where it came from, no, please, getting an answer to that can be delegated and you'll probable be able to get a far better answer from the person/people who came up with it than from Mark.   

Whilst the answers won't be as quick as on a forum, so many questions do get answered - perhaps slower but more fully, and with some we are probable best to be pragmatic and accept "don't know" or "do we really need to put considerable resource into researching that".   But with the keeness of so many of the GWR team, thos categories are much rarer than you might imagine.

I first engaged with the First Group - First Great Western as it then was - some 12 years ago. And I campaigned and fought against some of the things they were doing - be they things off their own bat, or under contractual and supplier instruction. Words like "against" and "fought" have faded - perhaps not to the point of total elimination - to largely be replaced by "with" and "co-operated".  "Campaign" is still there - but for the most part it's campaigning or working alongside towards mutual goals. I can still be the critical friend; I can still ask the awkward "why don't you xxxxx" and I can still argue for passenger benefit (and long term business growth) where the HQ and contract instruction majors on short term financial expedients.

I am a long way from answering "largest investment".  What I can tell you, based on discussions over these last few days, that we're getting ever better at getting good answers, and providing community inputs to our local rail industry too so that we partner in making as much better as we can for all - even if we don't get a surfboard special from Newquay at the end of Boardmaster's week, complete with a buffet, and a three hour run from Plymouth to Paddington.

5  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Where were Finn and I today, 15th June 2019? on: Yesterday at 05:44:11 am
Dunston station
Did you visit the staithes?

Dunston is a very interesting case of a station ... I passed through on a train that called there about a fortnight ago and was struck by how little passenger traffic there was on and off the train at the shoulder of the evening peak at a station within a city.  Looking back at historic data, I read of a station closed over 90 years ago, re-opened 35 years ago and having had a very patchy time since then. 

On our station comparator page ( ) we record a rise from just 82 journeys in the 2003/04 year to 12966 in 2017/18 ... fuelled by a much increased service, and surpassed (no doubt) by a frequent bus service into Newcastle and to other places along the main road off which the station is situated.  Although 12,966 journeys is 150 times up over the period of our record, it's still just 18 arrivals and 18 departures a day.

Until the 1980s, the line through Dunston was on something of a byway, but with the closure to trains of the Scotswood Bridge over the Tyne, Carisle line services now leave Newcastle over the same bridge as London train before turning off and heading west through Dunston and Metro Centre.
6  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Biggest investment since the Victorians.... on: Yesterday at 04:37:42 am
Anyone have a source I’ve looked everywhere online.

I don't.  Have you thought of asking those who make the claims for their sources?  Grin
7  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Preserved railway lines, Railtours and other rail based attractions / Re: Newly restored "Flying Scotsman" back in service - ongoing discussion on: June 15, 2019, 05:28:06 pm
More problems at Kemble. From Gloucestershire live

Gloucestershire photographer Clint Randall of was at the station taking photographs when he caught the incident on video and posted it on- line to warn others not to get too close to the platform edge in their excitement.

"Just watched the Flying Scotsman almost take someone’s head off at Kemble," he said.

One person commented: " Madam, please' and gently moves her away from instant death. Wonderfully British response to an unbelievably stupid act."
8  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Local trains not running? Semifast IETs can now call at all stations. on: June 15, 2019, 04:36:11 pm
15:41 Bedwyn to London Paddington due 16:52
15:41 Bedwyn to London Paddington due 16:52 will call additionally at Newbury Racecourse, Midgham and Aldermaston.
This is due to damage to the overhead electric wires.

Background ... there's a problem (somewhere near Reading West?) with the overhead lines, and the Reading to Newbury local service can't run as it's electric trains these dye, and there's no power,  So - sensible decision  - the IETs that normally run fast through Newbury Racecourse, Midgham and Aldermaston are calling at those stations to provide an alternative service.

I am posting on the TransWilts board because this is an example of what can be done.  IETs have automatic doors, selective door opening and doors in the front vehicle and so they can make extra stops at smaller stations when the local service is not running for some reason or another.  It's also made more practical by the far better acceleration of IETs so each stop costs even less time.

So .. should local services from Swindon to Westbury calling at Chippenham, Melksham and Trowbridge be withdrawn (due to the line being needed for IET services from London to Exeter and beyond, can the 2 hourly semifast services please call at Chippenham, Melksham and Trowbridge on their way through - just like the Bedwyn services are calling at Aldermaston, Midgham and Newbury Racecourse today?   Thank you!

Please note - not a call for every West Country express to call ... just the semifasts, rather as is happening this afternoon in the Kennet Valley.
9  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: What would YOU put into railway / travel room 101?? on: June 15, 2019, 10:03:13 am
'Our next destination is......' You cannot have a next destination. Destination is final. I have a destination, but the trains destination may be different.

[pedant]I would argue that ... take the 07:09 from Portsmouth Harbour
"Our destination is Brighton
it becomes the 08:59 from Brighton
"Our next destination is Great Malvern"
it becomes the 14:50 from Great Malvern
"Our next destination is Weymouth"
from whence it goes into the Jersey Sidings ... arguably the final destination of the day
10  All across the Great Western territory / Smoke and Mirrors / Re: Heads you loose and tails you don't win on: June 15, 2019, 09:26:29 am
Nothing like being hit by a double whammy then  Roll Eyes

Journey planner offering me a Darlington to Melksham changing at Bristol Temple Meads (to a bus) and Trowbridge (to another bus) ... 268 minutes Darlington to Bristol then a wait of 51 minutes and a further travel time of 121 minutes until I reach Melksham.    Same journey a week later offers me 59 minutes from Bristol to Melksham, 25 minutes of which is awaiting a connection at Chippenham.

So ...
average speed Darlington to Bristol 58 m.p.h.
average speed Bristol to Melksham (23rd June) 12.9 m.p.h.
average speed Bristol to Melksham (30th June) 26.5 m.p.h.  (could be 40 m.p.h. with a 5 min connection at CPM)

IIRC the works on the M4 will be every weekend now until the end of July (going to be really fun on the last Saturday in July when the holiday rush starts!).  I assume that's not the case with GWR is it? 

No - in fact see comparison above that I was typing that compares a 23rd June (bus) and 20th June (train) link for me from Bristol.

I will ... not ... be bussing all the way on rail replacements from Temple Meads.
11  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Current metrics of train travel and what it says about the average journey on: June 15, 2019, 09:00:05 am
An interesting read from the ORR (office of rail and road) -

Quoted bits are picked out from the 20 pages or so of the report - gleaning vital headline statistics

Rail passenger journeys in Great Britain in 2018-19 reached a record high of 1.759 billion. It increased by 3.0% compared to the previous year and was driven by a 3.9% increase in the London and South East sector.

Total passenger revenue reached £10.3 billion in 2018-19, with annual revenue growth at its highest (6.1%) since 2014-15.

Passenger kilometres increased to 67.7 billion in 2018-19.

After falling for two consecutive years, the volume of passenger train kilometres increased by 1.7% to 529 million in 2018-19.

.. Average journey cost £5.85
.. Average journey length 38.49 km = 23.92 miles
.. Average cost of travel 24.46p per mile
.. Average passenngers on a train at a time - 127.98

Passenger journeys using ordinary tickets increased by 5.0% in 2018-19 compared to the previous year. This was driven by a 6.9% growth in anytime tickets. In contrast, the number of passenger journeys made using season tickets fell for the third consecutive year, down 0.4%. Market share of season ticket journeys was 36% in 2018-19, down from 48% a decade ago.

On 20 May 2018, TfL Rail took over some local Great Western Railway (GWR) services out of London Paddington, which significantly increased the number of trains ran by TfL Rail and consequently explains the drop in journeys for GWR.

This latter means that trends show and changes for GWR are skewed and cannot be directly compared to other operators.

Journeys by ticket type:
Season 38.5%
Off Peak 31.2%
Anytime 24.7%
Advance 4.5%
Other 1.1%

Assume "off peak" includes Super Off Peak??
Figures retyped - from a graphic in the report, franchised services only
Noting journeys rather than miles, kilometres or number of sales.
12  All across the Great Western territory / Diary - what's happening when? / Re: GWR Community Rail Conference, 14th (and 13th) June 2019 on: June 15, 2019, 05:27:01 am
A big thank you to the team at GWR who organised this conference and who made those attending very welcome.  An awful lot of hard work, very well done; perhaps (as ever with events) they had their trials and tribulations on the day, but on the surface for those of us attending it ran as a well oiled machine.

Over coming weeks and months, Coffee Shop members and guests will see posts and other follow ups which have been positively informed and / or developed from learning and networking opportunities that this annual meeting uniquely offers, and from other projects which - although not instigated yesterday - were informed / driven forward. 

By our nature, Coffee Shop members often have associated interests with other groups too (indeed the Coffee Shop is often secondary). We were well represented over the whole event, and it was very clear from elements of the presentations that GWR very much see us as an example of community and rail in partnership across their franchise area.
13  All across the Great Western territory / Smoke and Mirrors / Heads you lose and tails you don't win on: June 14, 2019, 11:02:30 pm
From my Facebook feed

Great Western Railway
Sponsored ·
For the next several weekends, planned maintenance work is going to disrupt road travel around Junction 13 on the M4. Don’t let roadworks hold you up, go by train instead. Book now at, on our app, or at a station.

From my ticket enquiry, Darlington to Melksham,23rd  June 2019

Important to know
Buses will replace all trains to/from Bath Spa as well as between Westbury and Chippenham on this date.

For more visit
14  All across the Great Western territory / Your rights and redress / Re: Unmanned gatelines on: June 14, 2019, 06:52:55 pm
Checked today with GWR team.  If gates are in use (rather than open) they should either be staffed or with a call point which is answered as a priority. No one should have to wait because "staff are busy", or have to go off and use another exit / go find someone.
15  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 2019 - TransWilts cancellation and amendments log on: June 14, 2019, 01:08:30 pm
12:20 Westbury to Swindon due 13:02
12:20 Westbury to Swindon due 13:02 has been cancelled.
This is due to a fault with the signalling system.
Additional Information
If you are travelling from an unstaffed station please use the Customer Help Point or contact National Rail Enquiries on 03457 484 950 detailing the total number of passengers in your party and your intended destination. This will enable us to get suitable replacement transport to you as quickly as possible.

13:29 Swindon to Westbury due 14:10
13:29 Swindon to Westbury due 14:10 will be cancelled.
This is due to a fault with the signalling system.
Further Information
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