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27451  Journey by Journey / North Downs Line / Re: CW's North Downs Line Adventure on: June 04, 2007, 09:36:32 pm
Christian Wolmar falls foul of our favourite rail company (link below.),07.shtml

"The railway is full of well-intentioned staff .......... just as it always has been. It is the directives from above, demanding the imposition of penalty fares and the rigid adherence to rules that is forcing the staff to be less flexible and consequently there is bound to be more conflict with the public."

Indeed so, Christian.  I'm might impressed by many of the staff - their strengths and fortitude. But they too are feeling the pressure of the conflict and I don't think morale is too good at times.
27452  Journey by Journey / To Oxford, Didcot and Reading from West / Re: Social engineering - major changes in way of life cause by rail changes on: June 04, 2007, 09:31:25 pm

That , of course , is only my assessment. If First or the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) were to announce that a new station was to open at Corsham , to be served by a Bristol - Oxford service , then I would happily admit to being proved wrong.

I dont think you will be proved wrong on this one.

With selective door opening, 125s could serve a short platform at Corsham.  If a station was provided there primarily for MOD visitors, I might expect to see (say) two morning peak trains off London (so trains running against the flow) and two evening trains from Bristol calling ... gaining traffic for the "contra-flow" trains with longer distance travellers who typically travel first class and so are nice and lucrative.   What additional services could be persuaded to stop, I don't know ...
27453  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: 'West' fleet refurbishment on: June 04, 2007, 02:32:33 am
OK - I know what happened; my slipup (and now fixed).  There's a link that will allow anyone to view in the earlier post .. and you should also get to the comparison from
27454  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: 'West' fleet refurbishment on: June 03, 2007, 07:35:34 pm
The link works ... perhaps I went a bit off topic by going into the technology behind these things and advertising myself.

Note to Lee and Nick (Global Moderators) - if you feel I overstepped the mark, please feel free to delete my adverpost!

27455  Journey by Journey / Heart of Wessex / Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! on: June 03, 2007, 01:24:52 pm
The interesting thing about this error in timing was that in the main section of timetable 'E', it shows the right time from Frome onwards towards Bristol, but in the Weymouth to Cardiff timetable at the back of the book and in the pocket timetable shows the wrong time. Shame these things aren't spotted before they send it to print.

I teach people about databases, including design and one of the key things is that data should only be held ONCE in a database to avoid inconsistencies in presentation. Perhaps I should ask someone if they need a course?
27456  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: Fare REDUCTIONS on: June 03, 2007, 01:18:50 pm
2.80 single yesterday from Chippenham to Melksham, so that's come down by 20p.   I bought mine as an extension to my book-ahead tickets from Chippenham to London and back, and the other passenger on the train was travelling through as part of a York to Melksham journey, so as yet the reduction hasn't brought much more business for the Saturday, 21:38 arrival in Melksham.
27457  Journey by Journey / London to Swindon and Bristol / Re: First Class Travel - then and now on: June 03, 2007, 01:16:18 pm
Doesn't look like the old FGW (First Great Western) first class. Were you on the MML» (Midland Main Line. - about) set that FGW have hired on the way back? And yes I do agree with you that the old style is better, but good on FGW for trying something different.

Yes, it was in MML Livery so I guess it was that particular set.   Never having used First Class before (except for one occasion on the Bluebell railway 10 years ago) I guess I took it that the older styles were somewhat similar  Wink
27458  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: 'West' fleet refurbishment on: June 03, 2007, 12:41:12 pm
Not good at all, they sure need to sort that out pretty quick.

This is a "125" rather than "West Fleet" issue, I think?

I happened to be able to travel 1st class to London yesterday and back - just 1.50 extra ... an had a chance to try out the older and the newer trains.   Pictures / comment here

In summary, the older train was MUCH more comfortable, and the newly refurbished train had some teething and design problems - a broken recliner already, and power sockets that don't leave spaces for many bigger plugs. But the fac that an entire carriage was taped out of service on the older train does show the need to do something.
27459  Journey by Journey / London to Swindon and Bristol / First Class Travel - then and now on: June 03, 2007, 11:55:14 am
Normally I can't afford to travel First Class but yesterday one of the quirks of the complex fare structure allowed me to travel from Chippenham to London and then back to Melksham "First Class" for ouny 1.50 each way more than I would have paid second class.

It turned out that I had the newest of carriages (well - most recently refitted) on the way up and one of the oldest on the way back. Thought you might like the comparison.

27460  Journey by Journey / To Oxford, Didcot and Reading from West / Social engineering - major changes in way of life cause by rail changes on: June 03, 2007, 08:27:12 am
Mandy is seriously considering giving up her current job, and Sam has already made dramatic changes to hers - all due to the timtable changes introduced by First Great Western last December. 

Mandy and Sam are - or rather were - regular commuters from Bath to Oxford. Five years ago, they used the regular, direct train service for their commute. That service was withdrawn about 3 years ago, and then they had to change at Didcot on each journey. Now the timetables have changed, and the 4 minute "connection" at Didcot often fails. Compounding that, new patterns in the trains that stop at Didcot mean an hour's delay in getting home if the connection fails.

Are the train operators aware of the problems their new timetable has created?  Yes, they are; they have received more than enough feedback from these, and other, unhappy customers to make it crystal clear to them. But their loyalty is to the profit they can make for their shareholders, and to the contract laid down for the franchise, both ahead of their customer's needs.

"You can't make an ommlette without breaking eggs".  I know this, and timetables need to be overhauled; services that are moribund need to be rejuvenated or replaced, extra convenience and capacity provided for growing routes, and that might be to the detriment of other services.  But here we have an example of far more eggs being broken than was really necessary.

Why was the direct train withdrawn?  Was it really because it got in the way of others, or was it because the First group took over the other operator (Thames Trains) then used its monopoly position to make the change?  Why do we now have the strange stopping pattern at Didcot - is it really in order to provide an equal slowing of the Bristol and Cardiff trains with the "extra" stop, or is it because more stops at Didcot would mean many more people buying much cheaper regulated tickets (Bath to Didcot + Didcot to London is MUCH cheaper than Bath to London!)

This has ceased to be amusing in any way. This is serious. This is a monopoly playing at social engineering and changing people's lives - a service provider who seems to be less and less aware of that role, and showing little interest in it.

Sam used to commute every working day. Now she makes just one journey a week. "It's cheaper and less stressful for me to stay over in Oxford for a night or two" she told me - maybe, but it must be tough on your young kids. Then she works from home for the rest of the week.   So she's looked and made a choice beyond First's monopoly - their income from her has been cut, as has her travel.  Possibly it's even a good solution.

I've not been in touch with Mandy for a few weeks.  I must catch up and see how her problems are doing - where she's headed.
27461  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Melksham combined bus and train timetable on: May 30, 2007, 08:33:56 am
See here for a timetable I put together for this summer's services - it's Melksham based - public transport to Bath, Devizes, Chippenham, Trowbridge and FROME.
27462  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: Swindon - Westbury May 2007 Timetable on: May 30, 2007, 08:31:44 am
This new timetable (from the start of last week) remains truely dreadful - "NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE"?


Monday to Friday trains in marginal time - a predawn round trip before anyone wants to travel, and an evening train which is too late for getting home from work, and too early to go home after a night out even assuming you could get out in the first place.

Saturday:  A train to get you to Swindon too late for work, a round trip while the soccer's on (and much of the saturday traffic is soccer fans)  and a mid evening return to Westbury

Sunday: Nothing during the day and two evening trains in one direction only.

I put a "?" against my "Not fit for purpose" suggestion.   It's not fit for the purpose of transporting passengers when they need to travel, but it DOES (nealry) meet the government's specification as to what should be provided (I question that the last train on Sunday may bee too slow technically).   You would think, wouldn't you, that some bright spark could come up with a solution to meet BOTH purposes?

27463  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: Buses - An Alternative? on: May 29, 2007, 08:11:12 pm
Last year, 40% of our customers used the train. This year, only one group of 3 customers has doen so from Melksham, waiting around for the 19:50 on a Friday evening (would have left on the busy 17:02 last year).

I've drawn up a "train v bus" schedule for the main cross of routes (Bath to Devizes and Chippenham to Frome) that intersects in Melksham - added the trains in too. It makes interesting reading:

27464  Journey by Journey / Heart of Wessex / Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! on: May 27, 2007, 06:30:18 pm
The Sunday morning trains to Weymouth were indeed a last minute addition according to confirmations now to hand.   Mark Annand's letter was 100% when it was written and it's naughty (to put it mildly) for anyone to suggest that he was wrong, or to claim loads of credit for offering a better service than he suggested would be available while "rubbishing" him.

Remember this tactic.    If you are running 12 trains but you really only want to run 10, announce you're going to cut  back to 8 services.   Then you'll be seen as the white knight when you - at the last minute - run 10.  Of course, you've managed to sneak in the cuts you wanted to make in the first place ....

27465  All across the Great Western territory / Your rights and redress / Re: Cycles On FGW Trains on: May 27, 2007, 06:23:17 pm
I note all this on cycles.  I undertand that 158 are being scheduled for the Sunday Weymouth services as they have more seats on them ... and the crews are expecting / having (not sure which) problems with the number of pushchairs and amount of luggage that daytrippers want to take.

Thank goodness it's a REALLY wet Bank Holiday Sunday today??
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