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  • Meet the Managing Director: August 05, 2019
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Author Topic: Meet the Managing Director - 5th August 2019  (Read 1504 times)
grahame
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« on: July 05, 2019, 05:00:01 pm »

A date for your diary.  A month from today, Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of Great Western Railway will be live here on the Coffee Shop forum answering questions from members in our occasional "Meet the Manager" series.  Put Monday, 5th August 2019 in your diary and make sure you're on line early that evening.



From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, 5th August, Mark and our BobM will be on line from Swindon together with support, with new conversations triggered at intervals by Red Squirrel from our moderator team on our Meet the Manager board. We anticipate a healthy discussion will ensue on each of the chosen topics.

In order to ensure an even coverage of the topics members might wish to raise, please send your questions via personal message to Chris from Nailsea prior to close of business on Sunday, 28th July.  Questions will then be sorted / combined to ensure that there is even coverage on 5th August, and it will also allow us to give Mark and his team at Great Western Railway a "heads up" on topics that will arise. The discussions on the 5th August, though, will be truly interactive after initial texts are posted.

Our "Meet the Manager" board is a public one, available to the world to read. However, like all other Coffee Shop forum boards, only members can post.  If you are not yet a member, please register here in good time - we can take up to 24 hours to check and confirm a registration.  So you'll need to register by Saturday 27th July if you want to ask a question, or Sunday 4th August if you want to join in discussions.  Registration is free - really just needed so that we have your GDPR approval, a way to reach you in exceptional circumstances, and your confirmation to our posting etiquette.

A big "Thank You" to GWR and to Mark Hopwood for enabling this "Meet the Managing Director" session on our "Meet the Manager" board. The idea has been bubbling along for a while, and I'm delighted that Mark and his team sought us out at the Community Rail conference last month, encouraging us to move it from an idea to reality.


Mark Hopwood at last month's GWR Community Rail conference
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2019, 05:00:52 pm »

Appendix

The "Meet the Manager" board - unusually on the Coffee Shop - is set to 'reply only'. That's done so that all contributions during an active session are channelled into the ongoing discussions and the whole thing doesn't take off with threads in all sorts of directions that make it unmanageable.

We know the 17:00 to 18:00 time slot is not ideal for everyone.  Tough - there is no magic time slot that would be; with a month's notice, members should be able to plan around it and be connected somewhere.  And content (bearing in mind the occasional extraordinary exception) will remain available after the event - just as you can still look back to the Ben Rule "Meet the Manager" from 4 years ago.

Should something extraordinary crop up in the days / hours before the session, we reserve the right to add in an extra question or even change plans if we (the admin / moderator team in conjunction with GWR) feel that's appropriate. For example, a session scheduled on the day the sea wall washed out at Dawlish in February 2014 would probably have been postponed, and a session scheduled a few days later would probably have had a late question on plans to help passengers travel until the trains returned.

As well as BobM in Swindon and Red Squirrel in Bristol, Chris from Nailsea and Grahame will be online during "Meet the Managing Director" to deal with any admin / moderation / server issues that may arise.  Experience suggests this availability is a safety net that won't be needed but we WILL be there.

The session will be trailed on Facebook and Twitter, but not mirrored there. In order to read, people will need to visit the appropriate pages on the forum web site. In order to participate, people will need to register for the forum at least a day ahead.

Whilst every attempt will be made to cover as many topics as practical, the forum cannot guarantee to cover everything that's raised.  We will not put questions which are inappropriate, and I'm sure you'll appreciate that answers may be very limited or unavailable on commercial matters.
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MarkHopwood
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« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2019, 07:17:43 am »

Looking forward to it already!
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TonyK
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2019, 08:06:23 pm »

I've cancelled my next cruise.
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Now, please!
grahame
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2019, 08:40:16 am »

Although I am just something of an observer of this one, I understand that some very interesting questions are being put forward.  Please do send messages to Chris from Nailsea to have your question considered for inclusion in the mix.  You have a week remaining.

I doubt it's going to be possible to put every question as asked and Chris from Nailsea and Red Squirrel will have an interesting time choosing those which are best.   If you're putting in a question, please do make sure it is a question and if you can that it's a question within the remit of GWR's MD to answer or comment on.   

It can, frankly, be very hard for people to know what's in the train operator's control or influence - those of us who are admins / moderators here are a little better informed than many who will be asking questions or watching on 5th August.   I do hope that this process Q&A process helps to clarify such responsibilities - be that during the process or in following up.



For completeness of the record here on the Coffee Shop, the Facebook promotion of this event is ((here)).  But please note that we ask you to register (if you've not already done so) and ask questions via Chris - this will allow you to interact on the evening too - rather than just post there.
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2019, 11:52:45 pm »

Thank you for your update here, grahame. Wink

Yes, I have indeed been sent a lot of questions, which our members on the Coffee Shop forum would like to ask Mark Hopwood.

They are all very valid questions, to be fair - but we also have to be fair to Mark, who can only reasonably be expected to deal with a certain number of subjects, during our one hour live session.  Grin

I am therefore drawing up a set of six questions, on a variety of topics, which my colleague Red Squirrel will feed into the live discussion at ten minute intervals.

Those other questions, though, will not be forgotten.  We will post them elsewhere on the Coffee Shop forum - for example, on the board relating to that particular branch line, where local GWR staff will probably have a much more detailed knowledge of the situation than Mark could reasonably be expected to have.  In such cases, may I encourage our GWR staff members on the Coffee Shop to reply appropriately - following the excellent example of your own Managing Director!  Wink

Thanks, Chris from Nailsea.  Wink
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2019, 09:12:53 am »

Thank you for your update here, grahame. Wink
............. In such cases, may I encourage our GWR staff members on the Coffee Shop to reply appropriately - following the excellent example of your own Managing Director!  Wink

Thanks, Chris from Nailsea.  Wink

Do you not run into the problem that Mark is the M.D so can speak with authority, whereas GWR staff members can only give a personal opinion, which is not necessarily a FGW opinion, and they may not be able to express an opinion even though they might know the answer.

Thank you to all involved with setting this up, and in no way am I trying to be dismissive, etc
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2019, 09:27:26 am »

Thank you for your update here, grahame. Wink
............. In such cases, may I encourage our GWR staff members on the Coffee Shop to reply appropriately - following the excellent example of your own Managing Director!  Wink

Thanks, Chris from Nailsea.  Wink

Do you not run into the problem that Mark is the M.D so can speak with authority, whereas GWR staff members can only give a personal opinion, which is not necessarily a FGW opinion, and they may not be able to express an opinion even though they might know the answer.

Thank you to all involved with setting this up, and in no way am I trying to be dismissive, etc

I'm sure that this event is only a precursor and much needed catalyst to a resurrected and improved culture of openness and accessibility from those at the top of GWR and that we can look forward to a comprehensive customer engagement programme of "Meet the Manager" events, both face to face at stations and digitally, following their sudden, unexplained cessation a year or two ago.....I'm sure... Wink
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grahame
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2019, 11:41:07 am »

Do you not run into the problem that Mark is the M.D so can speak with authority, whereas GWR staff members can only give a personal opinion, which is not necessarily a FGW opinion, and they may not be able to express an opinion even though they might know the answer.

Thank you to all involved with setting this up, and in no way am I trying to be dismissive, etc

Yes, but  Grin

As the MD of a company that plans over half a million services a year and a fleet of around 800 passenger carrying vehicles, operates over 200 stations and employs around 6,000 staff, you cannot expect Mark to have every answer - at least straight off - and where answers get involved in detail and individual stations / trains for him to delegate or to let us know how something is already delegated.

An example - an email last Thursday from Mark's office seeks ideas to reduce station dwell time. At Melksham, 2 carriage trains headed towards Swindon pull up at the northern end of the extended platform, whereas the station entrance, information screen, ticket machine, bicycle shelter, station name boards and waiting shelter are all at the southern end.  Net result - people wait away from where the trains stops and have to walk up to it after it passes them by as it pulls up.  And people new to Melksham take time to establish where they are ("is this Melksham" leading out of the train doors!) because there are no signs they can see to tell them.  Little things - surely to goodness fixable under delegated authority, but in the knowledge that they're in line with the desire to reduce dwell time ... and that in this instance you're looking at dwell time on a heavily used single track between congested main lines where knock-on delays want to be reduced.

See http://www.mrug.org.uk/mkm_faster_load.pdf for the full Melksham Rail User Group response that will be submitted (just awaiting one final person to feedback if she wishes by this time tomorrow).

I'm sure that this event is only a precursor and much needed catalyst to a resurrected and improved culture of openness and accessibility from those at the top of GWR ....

Indeed, and changes within GWR suggest that they are strongly working on positive updates in customer engagement.  So I would be hopeful, and with evidence to back up that hope.  If / how the Coffee Shop is mainstream in that remains an open question and I suspect may be influenced by the 5th August even and how the wider "we" handle it.   To add - although we go on about the need for GWR to improve openness, that's a need with many organisations and looking at / in touch with others who are customer groups online in different parts of the UK, I thank my lucky stars that we don't have the sort of relationship they do - as different as day and night already.
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Do you have something you would like to add to this thread, or would you like to raise a new question at the Coffee Shop? Please [register] (it is free) if you have not done so before, or login (at the top of this page) if you already have an account - we would love to read what you have to say!

You can find out more about how this forum works [here] - that will link you to a copy of the forum agreement that you can read before you join, and tell you very much more about how we operate. We are an independent forum, provided and run by customers of Great Western Railway, for customers of Great Western Railway and we welcome railway professionals as members too, in either a personal or official capacity. Views expressed in posts are not necessarily the views of the operators of the forum.

As well as posting messages onto existing threads, and starting new subjects, members can communicate with each other through personal messages if they wish. And once members have made a certain number of posts, they will automatically be admitted to the "frequent posters club", where subjects not-for-public-domain are discussed; anything from the occasional rant to meetups we may be having ...

 
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