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27481  Journey by Journey / London to the Cotswolds / Re: Charlbury commuter blog ... on: October 21, 2007, 08:49:20 pm
I'm bringing this one to the forefront ... the good people of Charlbury are still busy recording the service on their line, and I note that it remains "eventful" ...
27482  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Mixed up places on: October 21, 2007, 12:21:09 pm
Personally I think 7 is Paignton


I never could smell properly!
27483  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Mixed up places on: October 21, 2007, 11:01:20 am
I'm really bad at working these out but I think 7 may be Paington ...
27484  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The West - but NOT trains in the West / Re: Images of Wiltshire on: October 21, 2007, 10:41:04 am
I was referring to the roads in Wiltshire as they were rather busy, not that Torbays roads are any better!

This sort of thing?

Those are all the A350 ... middle of the day (NOT rush hour), during last week.  Slow moving traffic - 5 to 10 m.p.h. for about a mile and a half. (and it extended further that that as I turned off)

I dread to think ... what happens when we get the extra traffic diverted from Bath and around the [proposed] Westbury bypass along this way .... what happens if and when Asda get permission to put in their store and put in an extra set of traffic lights to control the extra traffic they hope to bring here ... what happens when we get the proposed 50% growth in the towns along this route. Perhaps a decent train service could take some of the load?
27485  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Mixed up places on: October 21, 2007, 10:28:37 am
2. Reading

Number 3 isn't strictly correct, though

You're right on both counts.
27486  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Mixed up places on: October 21, 2007, 09:36:16 am
Know a few more but i'll leave them for someone else.

Yes - and thanks - "one each" is a good idea!
27487  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Mixed up places on: October 21, 2007, 09:09:51 am
Can you identify these places?

1. Dearly

2. Grained

3. Overtint

4. Lower

5. Mailless

6. Ethan
27488  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Is it time to campagn for an Open Access Operator in The GW area on: October 21, 2007, 08:32:04 am
There is no more room to run anymore Firstgroup services (well HST (High Speed Train)'s) Reading to London is saturated already so having an open access operator is just pie in the sky.

And where would a go it alone outfit if it decided to run a "local" service get it's rolling stock from? If Great Western can't get it then they probally won't.

Still, Dream On!

I agree with your comments about stock and space on the lines / through Reading - indeed there are othe issues too - not only where is the stock obtained from, but where do you get it stabled, serviced, staffed. And what about convincing the powers that be that you have everything in place and are a fit company to run a train service.

And yet ...

Looking that little bit wider. Looking at the proposals that are linked to earlier in this thread. The issues are acknowledged and solutions offered - at least in the "Save the Train" case.

At the Southern end of the TransWilts line is a depot that's already got a load of class 159 diesel units based there, operated by a company which has clearly convinced the powers that be that they can run a train service. Terminating at Salisbury from the South and East you have trains from Southampton and from Waterloo - run them on through as a commercial exercise up to Trowbridge (along a line already served by those trains) then up to Melksham, Chippenham and Swindon.

Extra stock?   You may be able to juggle it cleverly - in the interim before the newly autorised Axminster loop is installed, there may be a little slack in the stock of 159 units, and there's a unit not on lease at Doncaster too.  I understand it might not be in running order - but it's just an option.  It's what is run our from Salisbury, so woul dbe natural for them to use - but the St Phiips Marsh team wouldn't want one oddball, would they?

Track capacity?   I have correspondence from Network Rail assuring me that there isn't a track capacity issue in getting an extra passenger service along the TransWilts above the current pathetic two per day.   And onwards from Salisbury to London or Southampton - NOT an issue; the train runs already!

Extra traffic offered by the service?  Well - the figures for the TransWilts are around and I can dig 'em out again.   They look excellent for a corridor that's got six SSTCs (Strategically Significant Towns and Cities) on it for now and for the future.  Add to that (if we take the London case) direct trains from Melksham, Trowbridge and Warminster to London where there is no or linited thhrough service at the moment. Major additional London service from Swidnon, Chippenham and Westbury.   Yes, it woul dbe slower but in would also be lower cost, give extra capacity against overcrowded routes that look set to get even busier, and for anyone travelling to the South of the river in London would give a fare better London arrival point.

But, yes, I probably am dreaming ... there's a difference between coul dbe done and will be done.  And a feeling that all the TOCs (Train Operating Company) are so busy coping with expansion and traffic and issues on existng routes that they may not feel able to expand into other routes.
27489  All across the Great Western territory / Smoke and Mirrors / Re: RAIL Article Tells FGW & Network Rail To "End Shambles" 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.

MTLS (More Train Less Strain)

"Save the Train" (STT (Save the Train)) 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» (Department for Transport - about). FGW (First Great Western), W(C)C, Network Rail and so on, though influencing their decisons in a direction which is, frankly, sensible for all.
27490  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: FirstMinute problems when a train is cancelled on: October 21, 2007, 07:55:59 am
I doubt that the road replacement service would have gone to Swindon as, from what I have seen, the road replacement service operates between Westbury and Chippenham only.

I doubt that too.   Just as I doubted the assurance that the replacement bus leaving Melksham at or after 19:50 would get the passenger to Swindon in time for the 20:29.

Personally, I've got  a seniority in years which helps me get people to listen to what I say. I have a knowledge of the system that lets me talk with a degree of confidence, and act knowing the system and adjusting to changing cirsumstances. I'm male, caucasian, tall, and I speak English well as it's my mother tongue.  And I'm experienced at taking responsibility / dealing with issues as taught to me by bringing up children and looking out for them.

All of these characteristics / experiences help me make my way and deal with situations with far, far fewer problems and far less worry than would be encountered by someone who wasn't of the same experience and background.  If I had been travelling myself, I would have caught the 19:55 from Chippenham, and had a word with the train manager between there and Swindon if he had come around - staying on board if he was happy, or dropping back to my allotted train if not.

But.  We state that our customers can reach us by public transport, and so to some extent any failure of that public transport reflects on us.  As do any awkward situations and worries it causes.  So in order to look after our own reputation, we'll always look to find solutions that are 100% kosher, both in terms of the rules and the emotions, for customers who are inconvenienced.  Even if it puts us out a bit.
27491  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: FirstMinute problems when a train is cancelled on: October 20, 2007, 09:51:54 am
why not just buy a single from chippenham to swindon for the ^4 or so it costs. get off at swindon and await the 2029 at swindon in the coffee shop?

still an inconvience but not greatly so.


Yes - sensible option. I *had* wondered about that, but discounted the idea because I don't like asking my customers to pay again / more for things they had budgetted for and have to calim back from their employer, perhaps with long explanations, and I felt that the customer would be embarrasssed if I bought an extra ticket and handed it to her.   As I say - a very sensible option though / ruled out through the particular metrics / emotional issues.

27492  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / FirstMinute problems when a train is cancelled on: October 20, 2007, 08:56:38 am
I wonder if any of the rail industry people would care to comment on what happened to me and my customer yesterday?   It's "just one journey" for sure, but it's a microcosm of the sort of thing that I've seen all too often!


* A customer of ours returning  from Melksham to London and onwards east from there was booked onto the 20:29 train from Swindon to London yesterday - a "this train ONLY" ticket - with a connection from Melksham off the 19:50 included.  Timing not ideal for her. It left things tight for last connections on to the east of London, and a very late arrival home. She would have liked something at about 5 p.m. but the operator withdrew the 17:11 last December in spite of strong protests and rapid traffic growth on it.

* Mid afternoon, I was alerted to the fact that the 18:27 Southampton to Cheltenham train - that's the one that calls at Melksham at 19:50 - was cancelled.  The web site said nothing about alternative arrangements having been made.

National Rail Enquiries

* I called First Great Western's customer service line on 08457 000 125 and selected the services option which transferred me to Rachael at National Rail enquiries. I tdescribed the problem to her.

* Rachael confirmed that the train was cancelled, and suggested the next train. When I asked her when that was, she looked and told me it was the last train of the day after all, and that "there is nothing shown to replace it". She also asked again if the journey was already ticketed.

* Rachael then told me that there was nothing she could do, and suggested that I call 08457 000 125 - the number I had called to reach her. I explained this and she said she would transfer me, but I got cut off in the process.

First Great Western

* I re-called the number and chose the "something else" option this time, and ending up speaking with John.

* John told me that the train was indeed cancelled, and that the ticket would be valid on the next available service. When I pointed out that wasn't until twenty past nine the next morning, he exclaimed "Oh God - I didn't see that".

* John told me that FGW (First Great Western) would compensate for the delay / allow travel on that next train, but would not cover the cost of a hotel for the night.

* Some phone calls were then made, and it was extablished that a bus would be running, to call at the front of Melksham station at or after 19:50. John assured me that it would reach Swindon in time for my customer to connect with the 20:29 train.

* I asked John how the bus could make the same timings as the train, and he was unable to provide an answer that re-assured me ... I got the impression that he is not aware of the geography of this area and the poor road system.

* John explained that they could not provide any earlier transport to ensure that the connection was made, as that would mean it had to leave Melksham before the scheduled time.

* I asked John if I could take the customer up to Chippemham to joing the train that leaves there at about 19:55 instead. He told me that I COULD, but she would have to pay a single fare of 41 pounds to use that train.

* John was unable to offer me any option that my customer could use to get from Melksham (or Chippenham) to London at the time she needed without making a substantial extra payment, even though earlier trains were available from Chippenham and the problems were caused the the cancellation of the booked FGW train.

* John wasn't able to offer any options / suggestions concerning the onward journey from Paddington at a later hour, as it wasn't included on the FGW ticket.


* I suggested to my customer that I take her to Chippenham and she catch the 19:55 up to Swindon, getting off there and awaiting the 20:29 even though the 19:55 was going where she wanted.

* My customer was rightfully nervous about this option, as it would have meant her travelling on a train that wasn't on her ticket.  She asked about penalty fares, and I had to admit that she might be charged for the Chippenham to Swindon leg again, and that she might (in theory) be stung with a penalty fare and even a summons if she was unlucky enough to run into an unsympathetic revenue protection officer.  "Very unlikely indeed" I explained, but she did not want to take the risk.

Concluding actions

* In the end, I drove my customer up to Swindon in time for the 20:29.  For the record, the road journey, direct, by car, most direct route, clear road took 47 minutes.

* I parked up there; as I expected, the barrier refused her Melksham to Paddington ticket, but the guy on the gate took a look at it and let her through on his passcard without the need for long explanations.


It really should NOT be that hard.  Leaving aside the need for an appropriate service, FGW are having trouble even running the 4 trains that call at Melkshm each day reliably.  And their customer service is ineffective at providing practical answers when the service provision fails.  Polite, yes. Listening, yes. But hamstrung by rules, lacking knowledge of the area they serve, and unable to come up with a practical solution to a problem that - I would argue - is of their own making.
27493  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: 18 Oct 6pm: Cancellations, Short Formations, Delays, Buffet Facilities on: October 19, 2007, 10:15:50 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 (First Great Western) fault is simply petty.

When you only have 2 trains each way a day, every single cancellation does count.

The evening train to Swindon this evening was cancelled, and I had a visitor due to go on it, connecting on on a "this train ONLY" ticket to London.  Phone calls elicited the fact that she could travel on the next train - 09:20 tomorrow morning - instead.  But if we gave her a lift up to Chippenham, she could NOT travel from there on the train 10 minutes ahead of the cancelled one.

Cancellation rates on the "TransWilts" have at times been up to 40% of services in a week and, yes, we do list each one that gets squashed.  It's not just a case of waiting half an hour as it is at Weston or Bristol or Exmouth - it's much more disruptive. But you'll also find if you look back that we make fair note of where cancellations are outside the remit of FGW.  Not looking for perfection - just hoping for something that is within an order of magnitude of what's specified.

Should I tell you here that two were shown as cancelled today?   That left our last train at Melksham at 07:17 ... this morning!

27494  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: All Melksham / TransWilts Evening Services Cancelled (19/10/2007) on: October 19, 2007, 04:44:52 pm
Thank for noticing that, Lee ... I have a customer with a ticket for that train, connecting into the 20:29 onward from Swindon.   Had better start researching further!
27495  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: Chippenham Flyer on: October 19, 2007, 12:12:27 pm

You didn't say which UP service this was the morning or the afternoon one

Saturday afternoon as I recall.

And what happened to the passengers from Melksham, or other places, using the service to travel to Chippenham on this service.

I understand that everyone was turfed off the heavily delayed train at Westbury or Trowbridge (I'm not sure which). It then ran empty to Swindon where it resumed the service.

I was actualy going to join at Melksham, but it was so heavily delayed that I got wind of the issue and as I had parked at Melksham station I was able to drive up to Chippenham to carry on from there with my journey to Swindon.   So I took the picture of the express 153, then boarded the 125 stopper a few minutes behind it.

Local transport was provided Trowbridge - Melksham - Chippenham by FGW (First Great Western); other passengers were instructed to take the Bristol train to Bath, change there, then get the London train to Chippenham and London.

To be fair to FGW, I think they were unsure at the time that they decided to turn everyone off at Westbury of Trowbridge whether the service was going to carry on at all

There is not sufficient slack in the system today which according to reports on this forum is being addressed in the new timetable, whats that, extending turnround times at destinations from 1 to 2 minutes ??

Yes, I undertand that is one of the main things.   You'll also find that some en-route timings have been eased further.
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