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27451  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: 'BETTER OFF WITHOUT FGW' on: March 21, 2008, 02:26:22 am
Under FGW (First Great Western):
HSTs (High Speed Train) have more seats
fares are lower
trains are being refurbished to much higher standard than Distressex!
there are improved HSS (High Speed Services) across the region

I honestly think that things are looking much, much better and its a pretty decent service nowadays.

It depends on where you look at if from.  Here's my local picture

Under FGW:
60% of trains have been withdrawn
Buy-on-the-day cheapest weekday London fare up from 38 pounds to 115 pounds
Cancellation rate up from 2.7% of trains to 7% of trains
Longest daytime service gap up from 4 hours 23 minutes to 11 hours 54 minutes

When the passenger - the customer - is looking for a reliable service, running at appropriate times, and a price that's reasonable, I think that in our neck of the woods that at present First Great Western appear to have failed on all counts.

P.S.  Gaf71 wrote:
I think credit should be given to Mr Haines and his new(ish) team, they certainly do seem to be trying to address the main problems.


Yes, and Mr Haines specifically mentioned Salisbury to Swindon - the line I refer to - in a speech I heard him mae to representatives from all across the South West at the beginning of this month.  The problem is that we were asked for inputs for the December 2006 timetable, and changes directly opposed to those we asked for were made betwene draft and final. We were lead to believe that a major improvement - back to something closer to an appropriate service - was planned for December 2007, but that melted away. And here we are in 2008 with more promises along the same lines.

I wouldn't want Mr Haines' job - and it's really hard to know just what he can say / do at this point after two previous letdowns from the same company. The words are right, and the ifs and buts Mr Haines and others mention seem honest.  The track record is abysmal, though.  First would do well for the people of Wiltshire who are currently disenfranchised from the train by announcing that they WILL run the service that they currently have in draft from next December, even is it means that they have to spend 1/60000 th (one sixty thousandth) of the money they're paying for the franchise on it.

27452  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: See You would be no Better off with National Express! on: March 20, 2008, 04:22:08 pm

chris i am not trying to convince anyone just saying it how i see it.
i am not saying reliability was excellent under wessex but it was better than now.


I can confirm this - not in terms of the number of miles between failure but in terms of the percentage of services cancelled - at least for TransWilts Monday to Friday services.  In Wessex Trains days, the line had a bit of a reputation of its trains being cancelled quite often - to the extent that we set up a monitor.  And that monitor is still running.  The figures I calculated a few weeks ago are:

Wessex trains - last 3 months to 31.3.2007 - at least 2.7% cancelled
First Great Western - Dec 2006 - Dec 2007 - at least 4.5% cancelled
First Great Western - Dec 2007 to early February 2008 - at least 7% cancelled

I say "at least" as I have given the companies concerned the benefit of the doubt where their own recording / monitoring system was telling me "no report".  In each case the reports are for trains failing to serve Melksham.  So a Southampton to Swindon train that was terminated at Westbury shows as cancelled.

27453  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: Four Daily Services for Melksham on: March 19, 2008, 03:16:51 pm
I would say that there is probably double the service in order to allow people to either arrive or depart at the correct times for trains, which ties in with the times of the services.

I wondered about that, but that doesn't really seem to fit in with the times specified.

Monday to Friday service has a Westbury train at 06:43, so I would expect to see a bus at 06:20 or so to make Westbury connections, then one at around 07:20 for people who  would normally leave Swindon on the 06:18 train ...

Saturday service ... First train is 90 minutes after the first bus you list, so again it doesn't tally.  Is it part of a wider picture in some way?

Quote
0750 to Didcot Parkway, calling at Chippenham, Swindon and Didcot Parkway

Goodness - that would be useful as a normal train.   Melksham to Oxford by train at present is a nightmare.
27454  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: Bizarre train announcement on: March 18, 2008, 11:12:38 pm
Just under 10 hours wait!
27455  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Merthyr Services Enhancement on: March 18, 2008, 10:33:09 am
Hi - I have been following this forum for ages and it is nice to see that people all over the FGW (First Great Western) area are interested in the Merthyr line upgrade.

Hello, SuperGlam ... and welcome to the ranks of posters.  Although the board was set up (and is targetted) at lines / stations served by FGW, I think it's fair to say that most of us are interested in connecting lines as very many journeys involve multiple companies, and wider areas / comparisions too.  Recently, indeed, in my role of administaror I added a few words to the board heading to help encourage news of other South Wales services ... as well as other London - Bristol, Exter, Banbury services.

I recall catching the Sunday train on at Troed-y-rhiw when it was afternoon only and occasional to put it mildly - dreadful weather and I was in a bit of a state; conductor took pity on me and I clambered into the guard's van with my damaged, punctured byke and rode up to Merthyr before heading back down.  Good to see the services blossoming since then and showing an excellent example of what can be done.

Quote
This valley has been neglected by the rail powers for far too long and is another step in the right direction ...

It's very heartening indeed for many of us to see these steps - to show it can be done. We have different players - in my part of the country ...
* We have First rather than Arriva
* We have Wiltshire Council rather than the Welsh Assembly
* and we have far more DfT» (Department for Transport - about) involvement that you have in Wales.
Actually, it's rather more than heartening - it's an example we can show them and say "why not follow this example?"


27456  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Inconsistent Communication in a Penalty Fare Zone on: March 18, 2008, 04:20:57 am
I'm not sure if it's a current page - but according to the Penalty Fare map on the FGW (First Great Western) site, Tiverton Parkway is NOT part of the penalty fare zone, and Weston Milton, Parson Street and Bedminster are not penalty fare stations.  The 06:45 calls at both Tiverton Parkway and Weston Milton, so I would be within my rights to buy a ticket on the train if I boarded at either of these, wouldn't I?
27457  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 75% of trains cancelled yesterday on: March 17, 2008, 08:50:00 pm
Not a good one though, but how does an ordinary casyual traveller know that's what they are suppose to do?

The is a sign with the National Rail Enquiries number on it ...

Quote
It's almost as if "they" can't be bothered to try and run a train or inform passengers when they can't and it's your hard luck you can make your own arrangements.

Yes - it does look like that at times.  Part of the improvements that were trumpeted when the franchise was won by First and they took over on 1st April 2006 was a replacement of the very limited information points they inherited at Melksham and similar places with a system which provides better information. Two years later we're still awating the new system - but to be fair to First, they HAVE repaired the old system when it has broken down though at time it has taken a number of weeks.
27458  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 75% of trains cancelled yesterday on: March 17, 2008, 01:51:35 pm
What happens if you turn up a station, presumably unmanned, and the train is cancelled?

How do you make your journey?

In theory the passenger information point will tell you what's happening, and that will be either that the train is cancelled and when the next train is due (in the case of stations with a reasonable service) or that the train is cancelled and that a bus will be running instead in the case of stations like Melksham, as it's not reasonable to expect customers wait from 07:17 to 19:50 for the next train  Undecided

In practise it sometimes works that way, but at other times a train that is due simply disappears from the system and all the message system tells you is that there is  no train due in the next 99 minutes.  What then?

Some people wander off in disgust; others call up taxis, or for lifts, or walk off to the bus stop about 800 yards away to await the hourly bus (this option leaves them well over an hour late on a 25 minute journey to Swindon).

The recommended option is to the phone. As there is no public telephone at Melksham Station, First Great Western Assume than everyone in Melksham who uses the train has a mobile. Call the National Rail Enquiry line and they should help you. You may need to point out (as I have) that you don't like the idea of waiting from ten to eight at night until quarter past seven the next morning.  When pressed, they will usually contact FGW (First Great Western) (the people on the number for assistance at the station don't actually work for FGW) and FGW will get something such as a bus or taxi laid on quite quickly - you'll usually be on your way within an hour of the time that the cancelled train was due to call ... although your journey will be slower as it will be by road, and you may have a further delay as you connect into a running train somewhere else.
27459  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / 75% of trains cancelled yesterday on: March 16, 2008, 05:55:38 pm
The 09:03 off Westbury was replaced by a bus - a "scheduled cancellation"

Then

20080315        14:37   Westbury        15:19   Swindon
Full report: "This train has been cancelled.This is due to a train fault. "

20080315        15:29   Swindon 16:13   Westbury
This train has been cancelled.This is due to an earlier train fault. "

All very depressing.  I don't know about the 21:05 off Swindon back to Westbury ... I'll give FGW (First Great Western) the benefit of the doubt and guess that it ran ...

This is not the first time I have seen cancellation rates this high - in fact I know I can look back and find daily cancellation rates of at least 60% on one day in each of the previous three months.    In a couple of weeks, we'll be two years into the franchise - and teething trouble excuses are getting very thin!

27460  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: National Express East Anglia To Hire Class 47's And Carriages on: March 16, 2008, 10:57:25 am
Do the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) have the ability to stop sales or leases of railway equipment stock owned by Angel and others so that they may run on railways outside the UK (United Kingdom)?  In other words if - fictional case - Porterbrook decided to sell 28 x 150 units (being released by [some company] as they took new stock) to the Austrian Railways, would there be anything to stop them?

Two reasons that I can think of :

1) Strongly adverse public/press opinion.

2) If (as I rather suspect) you are partly referring to the London Midland Class 150's, then it would be directly contrary to the DfT's Rolling Stock Plan, which envisages sending these units to Bristol :


I would agree with you on both points (and chances are that it wouldn't happen for other reasons - like particular rules as to safety and locading gauge) but my reading is that the DfT's point of control is over the TOC (Train Operating Company) leases so that - in theory - the RoSCos can operate in a worldwide market. Yes - they would need to be brave to do so against the wishes of the DfT and against possible bad publicity, but neither of those, as I read it, is a legal constraint

Question was asked as a "principle" question but the number and type of units in my example does indeed correspond more or less with the units currently with LM (London Midland - recent franchise).   I'm not sure which company actually owns hem ...
27461  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: National Express East Anglia To Hire Class 47's And Carriages on: March 16, 2008, 08:31:02 am
Reading of the apparent absurdity of rolling stock going out of the country, and knowing that the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) sign leases off when trains are leased by the RoSCos to the UK (United Kingdom)'s train operators ... I have a question.

Do the DfT have the ability to stop sales or leases of railway equipment stock owned by Angel and others so that they may run on railways outside the UK?  In other words if - fictional case - Porterbrook decided to sell 28 x 150 units (being released by [some company] as they took new stock) to the Austrian Railways, would there be anything to stop them?
27462  Journey by Journey / Portsmouth to Cardiff / Re: STAG Portsmouth-Cardiff Campaign on: March 15, 2008, 10:33:33 pm
To pick up a new crew member who's being taxied down from Gloucester? Because they quietly want to find out how many minutes it actully adds, and need to find a reason?
27463  Journey by Journey / To Oxford, Didcot and Reading from West / Re: Oxford - Bristol on: March 15, 2008, 08:26:16 pm
I doubt the profit levels of a potential Oxford to Bristol would compensate for the high leasing costs of the Adelante fleet.

Agreed.  Sadly - very sadly - I'm sure that the commercial situation is that it's far better for the bottom line to offer travellers from Swindon and West a service that uses existing trains and requires a change at Didcot.  You'll get some complaints from those who remember the old service, you'll loose some passengers to road transport - but that's small fry compared to the extra income generated by more fully filling the "toastracks" from Bristol up to Didcot. 

Remember that the Bristol - Paddington service is busier at the London end of the route, so that runs full from London to Reading and Didcot, where a lot of people get off ... then fills up again with people headed for further west ... is an accountant's dream.  And the only section of the route where the number of service provided over and above any DfT» (Department for Transport - about) rules actually matters ... is the short stretch from Bath to Bristol, where income has to be split with SWT (South West Trains) based on service numbers.
27464  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Minutes Matter on: March 14, 2008, 06:47:43 pm

For very important meetings, flights etc, I would suggest taking trains that get you in an hour or more early. I often lodge in Hotels overnight when something important is on the next day.


Indeed - I smiled when I read this and see how much it effects me personally.  I ofte work away from home for 2 days up to a week at a time.   I always make every endeavour to be on time and, being a trainer who's giving a class, it is important for me to be there and ready when my class of perhaps 10 delegates - each a well paid company employee for whom time is money - walks into the training room.

I have always aimed to arrive an hour before the course is due to start, even though at a push I can walk in and start much quicker.   But some things have changed over the past five years.

The roads have become progressively worse - less predicable with timing, more jammed.   And the trains that I use have been significantly reduced in frequency - to the extent that I'm forced onto the road much more now, which is the last thing I really want.  And where there are still trains scheduled to run, they seem incredibly unreliable - cancellations, late running, overcrowding and bustitution makes every journey feel a bit like an adventure.   Significantly, get outside the South West and that's less of an issue - the ends of trips in Liverpool, Nottingham, Ely and East London have been clockwork and seated.  The ends in the South West have failed seemingly most times - poor service, or no longer any suitable service.

There's an ironic side effect here - I've actually been pushed to be more environment friendly.  For sure I drive more often, but commutes are replaced by hotel stays - and in the situations where customers come to us, they now come the night before, stay much more, commute less - very much as Station Manager suggest he does and we should.

The subject is "minutes matter".  Yes, they do at times.  A missed connection London connection off the 06:43 southbound from Melksham means a long delay awaiting the next train.   And (on the same service as it happens), a Swindon departure a few minutes before the first train of the day from London arrives makes the service pretty darned useless.


27465  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: STOP TRYING TO DIVERT ATTENTION TO YOUR RAIL FRANCHISEES on: March 14, 2008, 06:22:44 pm
That's an excellent piece of documentation and is much closer to the truth (I'm sure) than what I've seen written anywhere else.  The inevitable question / follow up is "OK - so that's how we got here. Now - how do we sort things out to get the disenfrachised passengers and growth back on board?"
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