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Author Topic: A View From The DfT  (Read 2586 times)
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« on: January 31, 2008, 03:18:46 am »

This has been received by an FOSBR (Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways) member. It is written by Judith Shepherd, a DfT» (Department for Transport - about) civil servant who members of the Coffee Shop team have "liased" with in the past :

Thank you for your e-mail of 23 December to the Secretary of State, about the performance of First Great Western (FGW (First Great Western)) train services during the Christmas holiday period. I have been asked to reply.

I am sorry to hear about the unsatisfactory service encountered by members of your family while travelling with FGW rail services. Department for Transport (DfT) officials have had an early meeting with Andrew Haines, who has recently taken over responsibility for First Great Western. The worst problems experienced earlier this year appear to have been resolved. While this is encouraging, the Department continues to look for further improvements to FGW's performance to match the significant improvements seen elsewhere in the rail industry.

First Great Western is, as part of their franchise, undertaking a refurbishment programme which will cover the majority of the fleet. The works to refurbish the trains operating over the Gloucester to Swindon route has started, and the first units will be re-entering the service shortly. The High Speed Trains ('HST (High Speed Train)') are receiving new engines and other improvements and the rest of the FGW fleet are to receive a series of reliability modifications. 

Over and above the contractually committed improvements in its franchise agreement, FGW has also offered a Recovery Programme comprising 40 specific additional actions. The actions cover strengthening the management team, including the recruitment of a new Engineering Director from First ScotRail, additional operational staff, engineering improvements, timetable changes, capacity enhancements and customer service improvements.

We are now seeing record levels of train patronage. In the most recent full year, (2006-07), the railways saw annual growth in passenger journeys accelerating to 7.5 per cent, up from 3.6 per cent in 2005. This takes the number of passenger journeys to well over 1.1 billion, and their highest level for 60 years, making our railway the fastest growing in Europe.  To cope with these ever increasing passenger numbers, we are taking steps to increase capacity on the railway.

On 24 July, we published a White Paper on Delivering a Sustainable Railway which sets out the funds we intend to make available for the railway in the medium term - in this case, for the period from 2009 to 2014 - together with the improvements we expect the rail industry to deliver in return.  It outlines the additional rail capacity the government proposes to buy ^ an additional 1300 new carriages - to meet the recent and forecast growth in demand for rail travel. The additional carriages will go to the routes and services with the worst crowding problems. I am enclosing a copy of the Press Notice which announced the publication of the White Paper and explains its content in a little more detail.

The Department for Transport (DfT) does not set the required number of trains or carriages in any given franchise. Ultimately the responsibility for the day-to-day safety and welfare of passengers using the railway rests with the Train Operating Companies (TOC (Train Operating Company)).  They can ^ and they are expected to ^ run more trains and carriages if they are needed. TOC^s have to ensure that demand is met at the busiest timeof day and during the busier holiday season.

Ministers and senior officials continue to emphasise the importance of improved performance to both FGW and Network Rail at a senior level. Both FGW and Network Rail have assured Ministers that they are working hard to improve the performance of train services. The Department will, of course, continue to monitor performance of the FGW franchise to ensure that commitments given to Ministers and the public are met and that further improvement to service is provided to passengers in future.

I hope this is helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Judith Shepherd

Rail & National Networks Ministerial Liaison Team

Vous devez ĂȘtre impitoyable, parce que ces gens sont des salauds -
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