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Author Topic: First and Standard Class on North Downs Line - tips for passengers on this line  (Read 416 times)
eightonedee
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« on: July 04, 2018, 06:48:40 pm »

Can I share an experience on my daily commute that occurred not long before I joined this forum?

You may recall that a couple of years ago FGW/GWR announced with a fanfare that they were increasing standard class accommodation by converting all the first class seats on (then) non air-conditioned Turbos (165s) and one of the two first class ends of the air-conditioned 166s to standard. The relevant sections of trains were duly stickered, doors locked open and antimacassars removed.

Earlier this year I noticed that the stickers at the former "first" end of the 165 had a new sticker stating it was for first class only, and antimacassars were back. The train was a slow stopper, not a limited stop Gatwick service.

I queried this with the train guard, one I recognize as a regular. He asked me not to reveal his name, but then showed me on his smartphone a message from a manager at GWR (I think his name was  Harrison). In summary it said that following the introduction of class 387s (? - Electrostars), first class accommodation was being restored to North Downs "fast" services only. It went on to say that the stopping services to Redhill, Guildford and Shalford would remain standard only. If any passenger on these services in First queried the matter, they were to be offered a refund of the difference between the two fares. He therefore confirmed I could use the seats, and enjoy my antimacassars!

I did not understand the reference to Electrostars being reintroduced. They are all standard, but a better standard of accommodation than you get on a Turbo - 4 across seating throughout, a table at every seat (fixed or fold-down) and (so far) better and more reliable air cooling. However subsequently I googled the issue, and found that the re-classification of the first class accommodation was a response to pressure, backed by local MPs, about lack of seats pending the start of Thames Valley electric services. It was not though made clear at the time that it was only going to be a temporary measure. Mind you FGW's publicity at the time implied that they had paid for the electrification, new Reading Station etc!

However, I doesn't look entirely honest to sell first class tickets for services that are not meant to have such accommodation. The stock on the services, which used to be usually 166s for Gatwick faster trains and 165s for the slow stoppers now appears to be entirely random, too. Why bother offering first accommodation on these services? While I might now have the privilege of antimacassars when these are installed on trains on slow services, this just seems plain stupid, to say nothing of a waste of management time in considering this issue that might be better spent trying to deal with some of the problems filling other threads on this forum.

In the meantime, if you want the full Turbo First class experience at a standard class price, take a slow stopper on the North Downs Line ...don't all rush at once!
 



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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2018, 06:56:08 pm »

Can I share an experience on my daily commute that occurred not long before I joined this forum?

You may recall that a couple of years ago FGW/GWR announced with a fanfare that they were increasing standard class accommodation by converting all the first class seats on (then) non air-conditioned Turbos (165s) and one of the two first class ends of the air-conditioned 166s to standard. The relevant sections of trains were duly stickered, doors locked open and antimacassars removed.

Earlier this year I noticed that the stickers at the former "first" end of the 165 had a new sticker stating it was for first class only, and antimacassars were back. The train was a slow stopper, not a limited stop Gatwick service.

I queried this with the train guard, one I recognize as a regular. He asked me not to reveal his name, but then showed me on his smartphone a message from a manager at GWR (I think his name was  Harrison). In summary it said that following the introduction of class 387s (? - Electrostars), first class accommodation was being restored to North Downs "fast" services only. It went on to say that the stopping services to Redhill, Guildford and Shalford would remain standard only. If any passenger on these services in First queried the matter, they were to be offered a refund of the difference between the two fares. He therefore confirmed I could use the seats, and enjoy my antimacassars!

I did not understand the reference to Electrostars being reintroduced. They are all standard, but a better standard of accommodation than you get on a Turbo - 4 across seating throughout, a table at every seat (fixed or fold-down) and (so far) better and more reliable air cooling. However subsequently I googled the issue, and found that the re-classification of the first class accommodation was a response to pressure, backed by local MPs, about lack of seats pending the start of Thames Valley electric services. It was not though made clear at the time that it was only going to be a temporary measure. Mind you FGW's publicity at the time implied that they had paid for the electrification, new Reading Station etc!

However, I doesn't look entirely honest to sell first class tickets for services that are not meant to have such accommodation. The stock on the services, which used to be usually 166s for Gatwick faster trains and 165s for the slow stoppers now appears to be entirely random, too. Why bother offering first accommodation on these services? While I might now have the privilege of antimacassars when these are installed on trains on slow services, this just seems plain stupid, to say nothing of a waste of management time in considering this issue that might be better spent trying to deal with some of the problems filling other threads on this forum.

In the meantime, if you want the full Turbo First class experience at a standard class price, take a slow stopper on the North Downs Line ...don't all rush at once!
 





There was never much point to 1st class on the Turbos, I don't think anyone misses it.
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bignosemac
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2018, 07:04:28 pm »

The printed/pdf timetable shows which services should convey 1st Class.

https://www.gwr.com/~/media/gwr/pdfs/timetables/2018/amended-july/t09,-d-,v3.pdf?la=en

If a 165 turns up and you have a 1st Class ticket then you're entitled to a refund of the difference.

Conversely, if a 166 turns up on a service not marked as conveying 1st Class then you are free to sit in the 1st section with a standard ticket.
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Former FGW/GWR regular passenger. No more. Despicable company.
eightonedee
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2018, 08:20:32 pm »

Yes - but the timetable refers to trains with First class accommodation, not services on which you can pay extra for First class travel!
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