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27496  Journey by Journey / Portsmouth to Cardiff / Major housing development underway near FGW station on: January 22, 2008, 06:00:17 pm
If every train stops at Dilton Marsh in the future ...

Now here's an interesting thought.  I was on Google Earth doin a little bit of research around Westbury and could see from the satellite image how the housing creeps every closer to Dilton Marsh village, with a big road running close to the station now and a housing construction site just beyond.   With extra housing in the area over the next 20 years (20,000 new homes in North and West Wilts), Dilton Marsh will be a suburban station by 2015.

Suburban to where?

Commuters to Bath and Bristol, to Swindon, to Trowbridge, and to Salisbury, I suspect. Lower numbers to Warminster, Reading, Newbury and perhaps London.   And on the current odd pattern of train services there, these commuters will be driving ... or driving to Westbury.  And yet - train speed through Dilton Marsh is NOT fast. So here's an idea for FGW (First Great Western) to consider.

From May, 2008 make Dilton Marsh a request stop for all trains passing through. You'll find that there's a dramatic increase in business there and you'll have a real publicity winner too. Won't cost you anything in terms of train timing ... there's plenty of recovery time in there, and you'll be able to save the Westbury - Warminster short workings.

At the same time (if you can / it's not too big a timetable change) add in extra links using the spare unit time from Westbury to / from Frome (if it fills gaps) or Chippenham (it is BOUND to fill gaps there as you're not currently running any day time serives on the line.

From December 2008, using other plans afoot provide a Salisbury / Westbury to Chippenham / Swindon service; yes, even more for Dilton Marsh - THE new commuter town where people will want to live with fast and frequent trains to Bath, Bristol, Swindon and Salisbury - and the return of a decent service to the transWilts.

Dear FGW, dear DfT» (Department for Transport - about), dear WCC (Wiltshire County Council (Until March 2009)), dear Passenger / Customer ...
... we all win win win win
27497  Journey by Journey / Heart of Wessex / Re: It's impossible to commute soutbound to Frome in the morning - why? on: January 22, 2008, 12:43:40 pm
Graham, this in danger of turning into a Grahams (plural) topic  Grin

First HAVE indeed noted a relative sparsity of services at times into Frome and indeed had plans last May to correct the situation from last December.  The idea was that when the Westbury - Southampton shuttle was withdrawn in favour of SWT (South West Trains)'s Romsey - Salisbury service, the remaining FGW (First Great Western) workings that run beyond Salisbury but not beyond Southampton, within a few minutes of the SWT service in each case, would provide an additional 3 Salisbury - Swindon (and back) services each day.  Note that would have created extra trains calling at Warminster and , crucially, Dilton Marsh, where they would have provided part of the minimum service required by the DfT» (Department for Transport - about).

That plan was still-born (anyone who knows the real reason, please let me know; I don't) and as a result some of the Malvern / Worcester area to Westbury services that First were hoping to extend to Frome in excess of the franchise spec, but as a huge piece of common sense, are actually continuing of from Westbury to Warminster and providing the minimum service needed at Dilton Marsh.
27498  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Trivia question on: January 21, 2008, 07:58:30 pm
Yes, you have it, Gents!

{We should have a "congratulations" smiley that plays music around somewhere!}
27499  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Trivia question on: January 21, 2008, 04:34:51 pm
What do the station with the longest escalator in Europe and one terminus of the last narrow guage line to be operated by British Rail have in common (or rather do they share in opposition)?
27500  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: Dilton Marsh (26/11/2007) on: January 21, 2008, 02:07:35 pm
The issue in a nutshell was that the passenger had a Westbury-Swindon return ticket, issued at Westbury, but wanted to travel on to Dilton Marsh. The passenger's argument, rather forcibly put, was that the ticket price is exactly the same from Westbury - Swindon as it is from Dilton Marsh - Swindon, so what's the problem?

Surprisingly, the passenger is correct in saying that the fares are the same:
11.20 cheap day return
14.20 standard day return
17.00 saver return (WHAT does it save on?)
21.00 business saver

What he should do (or was it a she?) is to ask in the morning for a DILTON MARSH to Swindon return ticket if there's any chance of he / she happening to be on a train that calls at Dilton Marsh in the evening.   

Customer Happy. Conductor Happy. Fare system even more in disrepute!
27501  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: MTLS Fare Strike Confirmed on: January 20, 2008, 09:45:14 pm
Just looking at MTLS (More Train Less Strain) WEBSITE and since when has FGW (First Great Western) been running Japanese trains complete with Passengers to match?? in fact i think only 1 possibly 2 pictures on the site are actually of FGW Trains

I feel people really shoot themselves in the foot doing things like that ...
or permalink to the same page:
27502  Journey by Journey / Portsmouth to Cardiff / Re: I'm scratching my head .... on: January 20, 2008, 06:19:20 pm
Thanks folks - here's another from last night in the same vein

20080119   19:10   Worcester Shrub Hill   22:59   Weymouth   

Full report: "This train will be terminated at Bristol Parkway and restarted from Bristol Temple Meads.It will no longer call at: Filton Abbey Wood, Stapleton Road and Lawrence Hill.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable. "

Pity anyone travelling from North of Temple Meads to South-West of Westbury. I wonder if they tell the people they're detraining that it will be restarted just down the line!  Roll Eyes
27503  Sideshoots - associated subjects / News, Help and Assistance / A year on - how is this site doing? on: January 20, 2008, 06:02:01 pm
We've been running here for nearly a year, and I've been looking at some "behind the scenes" statistics that I thought might be of interest.

We're about to sign up our 200th member - we may have done so by the time I get to posting this - and in 51 weeks we have been visited from 34,693 different host computer (IP) addresses, with a total of no less that 3.5 million accesses. My logs for this analysis totals 900 Mbytes!

Much of the traffic on many web sites these days comes from "crawlers" or "spiders" and whilst it's important traffic in terms of getting us listed with search engines, it can have a misleading effect on certain statistics. However, I've had a look through the details of the logs and although a lot of the accesses are indeed from these robots, they only account for a very small proportion of the different hosts - that's why I've used the measure.

I can identify the majority of our visitors by the country from where they have visited, and there are 113 different countries!   Some are only a very few visitors (sometiimes 1!); of those I can identify, nearly 60% are from the UK (United Kingdom). Next highest visit count is around 15% from the USA (and that includes a lot of the robots), with no other single country over 1.5%.

All in all, I conclude that the site does reach / is read by a significant number of appropriate people - "reaching its target market" if you like.

A big "Thank you" to the team of moderators for helping to make this possible, and also to all the posters (whatever your views!) and readers. Again - it wouldn't be possible for this site to work without you.
27504  All across the Great Western territory / Introductions and chat / Re: Hope I'm Welcome on Board! the Station Manager. on: January 20, 2008, 12:42:33 pm
Station Manager, you are VERY welcome indeed.

We say that we are a site run "by a customer for customers" in the tag line that's somewhere on every page ... but it is an enormous help to us customers to have a wide variety of knowledgable professional input to hand, informing us and letting us know how things are from - err "the other side".   Except it is not the other side at all; the railway has to be a symbiosis with the staff who run the service, the passengers who use it, and all the various managers who ensure that things are in place to that ... the staff can run it for ... the customers.

I started off - summer of 2005 - campaigning for a retention of what I considered to be an appropriate service on the Swindon to Southampton line, after I read in the paper that it was to be cut back to just two trains a day.  I asked some pretty dumb questions in those early days, and am forever grateful to the people who took, and continue to take, time to explain things to me. It's not that I scandellously uneducated prior to that point - it's just that I spend my time learning about other things, and I assumed (falsely, as it turned out) the whole structure that provided and operated the trains to our town - trains that were rapidly getting busier - was competent in providing them and had a duty of care to continue to provide an appropriate service for the passengers. I wish I had know some of the railway professionals we now know on here at an earlier date!

As many readers may have guessed, the moderators have good communications channels between them, and we were discussing the "by a customer, for customer" approach the other day, and how it relates to rail staff.  So my "you are very welcome" message goes out to you - and to others - from the whole team. But some of my fellow moderators did make the point that it's easy - all too easy - for professional staff to assume a level of knowledge in the "Joe Public" poster that's unlikely to be there.  So I'm suggesting there often a need to explain more than you might expect, and to accept views that are deep seated but you feel to be incorrect and illogical.  I know I'm at the stage now of knowing enough to have almost become "part of the establishment" as far as these things are concerned, to the extend that I get accused of being "antipassenger" from time to time ...

A long comment there - written to be read (please) in general by everyone - but you gave me an excellent opportunity to make some points.

And a very warm welcome to the forum.

27505  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: SDO............why the discrepancies on: January 20, 2008, 12:22:50 pm
Most H&S (Health and Safety) rules are only there for the idiots of the world who probably deserve what they get

There do seem to be places where health and saftey rules seem absurd to you and me - the warning signs on a cup of coffee that say "may contain hot liquid" are one that comes to mind.

However, what was accepted and the norm in past ages is no longer so; I was brough up on the old slamdoor 4 EPB units on the Southern Region, with door catches strongly sprung inside and I don't recall too many people falling out of trains.  We were all used to them, treated them with respect (open a 5 m.p.h. coming into a station if the door was trailing, but let the train be nearly at a stop if it was facing and gooing to "wedge" in the wind).    But people would throw their hands up in horror at a suggestion like that today.

And that's not because people are more "idiots" now than they used to be.   It's because people simply aren't used to the older ways.   And the HSTs (High Speed Train) are getting old. I recall reading elsewhere on this forum about a teenager who was panicking when she couldn't get out of the train at (?) Castle Cary (?) as there was no door opening button, not realising she had to open the window, stick her hand out through the very hole labelled "do not lean out of the window" ... and fumble for the handle.  She probably had an IQ higher than mine, BUT it was here first time on FGW (First Great Western) and such older stock - the train was twice her age - an it was something she was not  used to.

In my youth, I was also used to getting off trains at short platforms and judging whether to jump down onto the slope of more one more door up.  Today's youth is no less bright than I was but doesn't have the same experience so commonly, so the now-much-rarer case of short station, long train has to be protected against via things liks SDO (Selective Door Opening) and skipping stops if the ruddy thing isn't working.
27506  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Rolling stock maintainaince standards on: January 20, 2008, 06:52:00 am
I knew I had a picture somewhere ...

27507  Journey by Journey / Portsmouth to Cardiff / I'm scratching my head .... on: January 19, 2008, 05:55:41 pm
20080119   11:30   Cardiff Central   14:51   Portsmouth Harbour   

Full report: "This train will be terminated at Westbury and restarted from Warminster.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable. "

Err I can understand one end or another being cut to make a short working, but I'm having trouble working out how chucking everyone off at Westbury only to take on fresh passengers at Warminster ...

Can one of you railway experts tell me?
27508  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Networker card - strange shape of area! on: January 19, 2008, 02:31:33 pm
What is needed for all those who AREN'T YOUNG OR OLD, AREN'T STUDENTS OR TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN OR DISABLED, is a nice National Rail Card avaiable to ALL.

Agreed, 110%. 

I did ask about getting an "able bodied rail card" once on the grounds of disability discrimination, but apparently it's a one way street. Discrimination against the able bodied is perfectly legal!

I have also wondered about a "taxpayer's railcard" and feel there's a strong moral case for one of those ...
27509  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Ox Rail Action Could Join MTLS Fare Strike on: January 19, 2008, 02:26:19 pm
If it was unlawful to Travel without a Ticket then when boarding at unstaffed stations All Passengers would have to board at one door and pay the fare when entraining. Just like ON THE BUSES

I have been advised by a member of railway staff to do almost exactly that if joining at an unstaffed (at the time) station where the ticket machine is malfunctioning. That way there is no argument about trying to avoid payment (in a penalty fare zone especially).

In practise a quick "The ticket machine on the platform is broken. Can I buy a ticket from you when we gate started" to the conductor should be enough to avoid the delay.

I'm very glad we're allowed onto the platform, and to join the train without a ticket, at Melksham. The nearest ticket office or agencies are ... Chippenham and Trowbridge stations
27510  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Rolling stock maintainaince standards on: January 19, 2008, 11:43:46 am
Rolling stock is built with a life expectancy, and it shows something called the bathtub effect with regard to reliability through its life. They start off unreliable, have a midlife where they run pretty darned well, then all the aches and pains of old age cause a progressively less reliable time before they are retired.

The Adalante units are, it could be argued, just coming off the end of their teething troubles .... and perhaps will be much more reliable for Hull trains and anyone else who runs them.  Most of the rest are likely geting more and more difficult to keep running reliably. And with delays on completing all the facilities at the depot and staff having to work around that, it can scarceley make the job easier ....

So even if we see a dramatic fall off in train reliability (and I understand / have seen figures to show that the reverse is happening) that's very unlikely to be down to the staff.
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