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Author Topic: Qn.3 for Mark Hopwood: Trolley service on IETs  (Read 2999 times)
broadgage
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« Reply #30 on: August 07, 2019, 12:02:55 am »

There is always the option, excepting crowded services, of going and finding the trolley oneself.

Of course, absent of location announcements, you have the coin toss of which direction to set off in.

Indeed and I have done this, with only limited success. On locating the hidden trolley it was "shut for stock taking" with nearly an hour of the journey to London remaining.
Hunting down the static trolley seems to rather negate the alleged advantage of a trolley.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
grahame
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« Reply #31 on: August 07, 2019, 05:50:27 am »

I personally find that neither a buffet nor a trolley works well for me on a train journey if I want eats / drinks.  As a lone traveller I'm reluctant to leave my stuff or loose my seat as I visit the buffet, and the trolley visits feel occasional and random, as do what the trolley is carrying. And - for me - when we argue between the options we're looking at Hobson's choice.

Is there another way, then?  Our modern trains are fitted with Wifi, and many or even most of our modern passengers are fitted with personal communication devices. Taking a leaf out of establishments such as JD Wetherspoon - could orders not be placed and paid at seats, and delivered by customer hosts?  This is naturally a country wide / national question so perhaps not for "Ask the MD". Leaving Exeter for Salisbury I'll be with SWR, for Westbury with GWR and for Bristol with XC. But just how much could technology offer?  Take it further - order before you board; stock levels held online so you know if there's still a suitable sandwich left in stock on the train. But I worry that even if such a system were planned, would it be as hard as the reservation system seems to be to get robustly operational?

For the present ... I'll treat the trolley as a little luxury that it's my good fortune to be able to use if it comes by at the right time and with stock.  for my Taunton trip last Sunday, the luxury didn't deliver when it could or should have done in either direction. I shrug my shoulders; having a train to get me to appointments or home is far more important that being refreshed when in the bigger picture, delaying eating and drinking is no more than an irritant. But I also note that is my view is common, there's a big opportunity for the TOCs or their concessions to provide a much desired service that will bring improved customer satisfaction and improved income too.



Having looked further ahead ... I will look back at the immediate and thank Mark for the attention that's being given to the current less than reliable on board refreshment service.  GWR lost two sales from me on Sunday ... one because the trolley only arrived late in the journey (and lacking milk!), and the other because there was no trolley on the train.
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« Reply #32 on: August 07, 2019, 08:50:12 am »

Is there another way, then?  Our modern trains are fitted with Wifi, and many or even most of our modern passengers are fitted with personal communication devices. Taking a leaf out of establishments such as JD Wetherspoon - could orders not be placed and paid at seats, and delivered by customer hosts?  This is naturally a country wide / national question so perhaps not for "Ask the MD". Leaving Exeter for Salisbury I'll be with SWR, for Westbury with GWR and for Bristol with XC. But just how much could technology offer?  Take it further - order before you board; stock levels held online so you know if there's still a suitable sandwich left in stock on the train. But I worry that even if such a system were planned, would it be as hard as the reservation system seems to be to get robustly operational?

That "order on line (in some sense) and deliver to your seat" service is what VTEC (as it became) bid and LNER still offer. EC bidders were encouraged to submit ideas like that, to be judged in the beauty contest. That part of the Azuma service was written into the franchise agreement, though where that stands now I've no idea. Nothing similar happened with FGWR as there wasn't a proper franchise competition for it to happen in (for one thing).

Does anyone know how well the LNER food service is performing in reality?
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« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2019, 08:59:22 am »

For me the problem with the trolley is that it is over complicated.  Hot water comes from urn which has to be plugged in to heat up.  So if it has not been turned on you have to wait 20 minutes so the trolley can't operate until then. 

Also when you run out of water the urn is so heavy that it cannot be carried so the trolley has to return to the urn location which also takes time and causes delay doing so.

Why not have a couple of portable urns like used in first class.  Then when one runs out a member of staff could go and fill one up again while the trolley continues to operate.  (Perhaps the Train Manager could do this ?)

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broadgage
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« Reply #34 on: August 07, 2019, 10:14:52 am »

"perhaps the train manager could do this"

STRIKE bruvvers. Fat cat shareholders attempt to downgrade train managers to trolley operatives. STRIKE.
Fat cats will be making drivers open the doors next, whilst safety critical train managers are told to sell kit kats. STRIKE.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #35 on: August 07, 2019, 10:44:14 am »

The drivers DO now open the doors.
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« Reply #36 on: August 07, 2019, 01:24:52 pm »

Thank you @Grahame and @Broadgage for your welcome and engagement. No engagement from "the man" on the subject though, and latterly he says he only wants to talk trollies.  Angry

Chatted to the nice trolley person this morning on my way to the big beer festival in London. While the train was stopped mind you, due to the pantograph being faulty, we went forward on diesel according to an announcement, they said many trollies are static due to staff ailments/restrictions or trolley defects. They recommended a cold drink vice the tea/coffee, water was not hot enough. It was a 9 car however so if you really were in need of the caffeine they'd text message the other host to bring you one down in a bag. Was that in the spec ?

Some staff are too good to the company it seems.
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Charlie (in Gloucester)
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« Reply #37 on: August 07, 2019, 02:44:03 pm »

Thank you @Grahame and @Broadgage for your welcome and engagement. No engagement from "the man" on the subject though, and latterly he says he only wants to talk trollies.  Angry

Chatted to the nice trolley person this morning on my way to the big beer festival in London. While the train was stopped mind you, due to the pantograph being faulty, we went forward on diesel according to an announcement, they said many trollies are static due to staff ailments/restrictions or trolley defects. They recommended a cold drink vice the tea/coffee, water was not hot enough. It was a 9 car however so if you really were in need of the caffeine they'd text message the other host to bring you one down in a bag. Was that in the spec ?

Some staff are too good to the company it seems.

I have said this previously however I do believe that the right crew make the journey so much easier. GWR have some of the best crew compared to other intercity operators. An example: The other week I was travelling on the 15:36 from Paddington to Cheltenham alighting at Gloucester. The Train Manager was making regular announcements regarding the quiet carriage and the fact that there were no seat reservations, and the catering crew were working together to get orders from the kitchen as quickly as possible and even with some help from the TM as he had completed (thorough) ticket checks.

I must say I have had journeys where the catering announcements were non existent, and the TM walked around with the ticket printer however I am 99% sure he wasn’t actually doing checks, nor any announcements.
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grahame
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« Reply #38 on: August 10, 2019, 05:45:45 am »

Quotes are from the headline "meet the manager" thread ... I'm replying here to keep the buffet / trolley stuff discussions in one place so it's easier to get the whole discussion.

I've read the correspondence with Mark Hopwood on the replacement of buffets with trolleys on the longer distance inter city services with interest.Is this the same Mark Hopwood who,when interviewed in Modern Railways in April 2009 in his capacity as MD of First Great Western admitted that trolleys did not work on long distance services and outlined plans to create a new fleet of Trailer Standard Buffets for its HST fleet to ensure every set had a buffet? He was quoted as saying" I dont think anyone is suggesting that if you're going to be making a journey for several hours we want to withdraw the ability for you to buy food and drink on the train...and yes, the original franchise proposition has changed in that we're not going for the trolley service in Standard Class now"
His current attitude to buffets also contrasts strongly with that of the East Coast where it has been reported that Virgin East Coast fought successfully to secure the inclusion of buffets.I'm afraid my interpretation of the situation is that GWR no longer have an appetite for running the   business beyond the current franchise period,have no longer a vision for delivering a quality service and were accordingly  prepared to be rolled over by the DfT

Firstly, the choice that is made by the DfT and the TOC is one that is the most practical, that hopefully works the best and suits the design a lot. Now, whether the MD did make these comments a lot I am sure that he could have a different opinion or the original attempt of using trolleys was not the best trial and that later on it proved more successful. The reason that East Coast were able to have a buffet on their trains is because they were allowed minor interior adjustments and (this was after the GW design was confirmed) were allowed to have a buffet on their trains.

Seats are the main thing that DfT want when it comes to new trains and railway upgrades. GWR do still work hard to run the franchise and if they were so incompetent then I am sure they would have been stripped of their franchise. As far as I am concerned I am unaware that the main requirement when running a TOC is to have a buffet and the catering offering is looking to be improved at the moment.

(Apologies if this should be on the buffet question thread however I thought here would be an appropriate place to reply.)

On train refreshments are caught between a rock and a hard place - buffets are far from perfect and trolleys are far from perfect too.  And passengers are very much individuals - both in terms of personal choice and in terms of journey metrics. 

The current fare system by general consent is riddled with curiosities, sometime translated as "not fit for purpose", but no-one has grasped the nettle and done a root and branch change. That's because there would be winners and losers. The winners would settle down to the new fares they loved and become naturalised with them in weeks but the losers would be incensed for years at how it was worse for them, and would be picking holes in the new system's teething problems and new wrinkles.  The same metrics apply to refreshment systems though we're further along the way - the changes have been made, the winners are quietly enjoying their new positives and those who have lost what worked for them remain unhappy, and looking to pick any holes they can / point out teething troubles in the new system.

It is worthwhile to provide train operators, and behind them train providers and specifying / contracting authorities with ongoing constructive criticism.  Whether you like the new system or not, feedback on teething troubles is useful - both in terms of new ideas and in terms of showing the relative strengths of concerns. But note that the rail industry and those behind them understand deeply what's going on for the most part, and will probably have heard and (I hope) listened to most ideas already - so your rate of return on input may be pretty low.  And if your input is "bring back the buffet", at this time you're asking for something that would be pretty expensive involving a refit of trains very new and not due for any form of refit in the near future.

I cannot talk for Mark Hopwood.  But I can put myself in his shoes. And I can note the use of the word "now" in the  quote from a decade ago too.  Given the trains into which the GWR team have no doubt had considerable input, but  final decisions are not theirs, the best was forward for the GWR team in to grow and work with what they have - may not be perfect, but it still provides food and drink during the long move.  And it can be moved up if we all work it through initial adjustments and teething from merely "providing" to "good" and perhaps "darned good". We will never reach perfect for everyone - but then no system I've seen suggested yet is.
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« Reply #39 on: August 10, 2019, 10:06:01 am »

Why would adding a buffet be as expensive and disruptive as suggested by those opposed to buffets ?

Years ago I suggested that a possibly short term "no buffet" policy by GWR would in effect be locking in this downgrade for decades to come.
Advocates of IETs pointed out that these trains are of a modular design and that the ability to readily retrofit a buffet was an "essential requirement"
So how about making use of this "essential requirement" ?

And of course early on in the IET saga, criticism of the "no buffet" ruling by GWR was answered by stating that the new trains widely described as "commuter style" were in fact largely intended for the shorter routes, and that HSTs WITH BUFFETS would be retained for the Cornish services.
Then after a suitable interval it was announced that IETs would also be used on the Cornish routes, but that this later or follow on order for more IETs "could" be to a higher specification and "might" include buffets.
Then it was decided that a uniformly downgraded fleet was preferable.

So by degrees we have moved from proper inter-city trains to new shorter DMUs without buffets, even on some of the longest routes in the country. Progress.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #40 on: August 10, 2019, 10:46:44 am »

Why would adding a buffet be as expensive and disruptive as suggested by those opposed to buffets ?

Years ago I suggested that a possibly short term "no buffet" policy by GWR would in effect be locking in this downgrade for decades to come.
Advocates of IETs pointed out that these trains are of a modular design and that the ability to readily retrofit a buffet was an "essential requirement"
So how about making use of this "essential requirement" ?

And of course early on in the IET saga, criticism of the "no buffet" ruling by GWR was answered by stating that the new trains widely described as "commuter style" were in fact largely intended for the shorter routes, and that HSTs WITH BUFFETS would be retained for the Cornish services.
Then after a suitable interval it was announced that IETs would also be used on the Cornish routes, but that this later or follow on order for more IETs "could" be to a higher specification and "might" include buffets.
Then it was decided that a uniformly downgraded fleet was preferable.

So by degrees we have moved from proper inter-city trains to new shorter DMUs without buffets, even on some of the longest routes in the country. Progress.

Aren't you now just repeating the same things that you've said on numerous occasions over the last year or so? We know your views, Mark Hopwood knows your views, and I don't think it adds anything to the forum to keep repeating them every few days, though happy for others to disagree. I thought a couple of days ago that there was a glimmer of hope that following Mark's comments on the subject that we could now look ahead and provide constructive comment on how the trolley service is working, but still you keep repeating yourself like a broken record.  As a relative newcomer to the forum, the biggest turn off for me is the constant repetition of this topic, with nothing new being added to the discussion.
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broadgage
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« Reply #41 on: August 10, 2019, 11:23:51 am »

I am sorry that you feel like that.
I feel that my remarks regarding the ability to add a buffet being "an essential requirement" of the IETs to be new or newish. I do not recall mentioning this "essential requirement" for some years. And it is in my view a fair answer to those who state that retrofitting a buffet might be nice but would be unreasonably costly or disruptive.

I have also said that I would reluctantly accept the downgrade to a trolley if this was done properly, reliably provided in both portions of a train, even on Sundays, and passing through every 30 minutes.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #42 on: August 10, 2019, 11:25:52 am »

Why would adding a buffet be as expensive and disruptive as suggested by those opposed to buffets ?
I'm not opposed to buffets, but I think 'the horse has bolted' here. While simply adding a micro-buffet counter could be relatively simple, it does cost seats as others have said. If GWR had wanted a buffet, the sensible thing to have done would have been to co-locate the kitchen and buffet together between first and standard class, as BR did with both the IC125 and IC225 fleets. While that would probably still be slightly larger than the IET kitchen, resulting in loss of a few seats, it would probably take up less space than the alternative and would ensure the full range of items the kitchen can produce are available from the buffet. To get that now you would have to reconfigure at least two vehicles (the first class driving car and adjacent FO), which would indeed be quite disruptive.

And of course early on in the IET saga, criticism of the "no buffet" ruling by GWR was answered by stating that the new trains widely described as "commuter style" were in fact largely intended for the shorter routes, and that HSTs WITH BUFFETS would be retained for the Cornish services.
Then after a suitable interval it was announced that IETs would also be used on the Cornish routes, but that this later or follow on order for more IETs "could" be to a higher specification and "might" include buffets.
Then it was decided that a uniformly downgraded fleet was preferable.

So by degrees we have moved from proper inter-city trains to new shorter DMUs without buffets, even on some of the longest routes in the country. Progress.
I do think it is regrettable that the original plan to retain IC125s on Paddington-Plymouth/Penzance services was dropped, though loss of the buffet is not the only reason I think that was a bad move. More important in my view is that GWR opted for a large number of 5-car sets. Also, only a very small portion (percentage wise) of the route that is electrified, meaning the underfloor engines are running for longer and possibly using more fuel than an IC125 would (we would need to see fuel consumption figures for both types to answer that though). Coming back to the 5-car sets, I think the decision to have so many of those killed the idea of a buffet (I'm surprised there's even a kitchen on the 5-car 800s given the DfT's presure to increase the number of seats, see also 2+3 seating staying on the Turbos). There should only have been around 14-20 5-car 800s in my view, everything else should have either been a retained IC125 or a 9-car IET.
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« Reply #43 on: August 10, 2019, 11:37:10 am »

I am sorry that you feel like that.
I feel that my remarks regarding the ability to add a buffet being "an essential requirement" of the IETs to be new or newish. I do not recall mentioning this "essential requirement" for some years. And it is in my view a fair answer to those who state that retrofitting a buffet might be nice but would be unreasonably costly or disruptive.

I have also said that I would reluctantly accept the downgrade to a trolley if this was done properly, reliably provided in both portions of a train, even on Sundays, and passing through every 30 minutes.

Actually, I regret the passing of the buffet too, but my perception is that you have been very repetitive on the whole subject for some time, and take no opportunity to repeat your general views whenever something is posted on the subject. Apart from my boredom, which of course I can take or leave, now the forum has semi-official status, I'm sure GWR gets no value from hearing the same arguments trotted out on a subject which Mark has made clear is not going to be changed, and it probably doesn't help its general credibility in the eyes of GWR. I'm just wondering how long you're going to keep banging on about it?

In the good old days, editors could say "This correspondence is now closed." when an argument had run its course. I'm sure the moderators would not seek to stifle comment in that way, but maybe that's what is needed now on the whole subject of buffets?
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« Reply #44 on: August 10, 2019, 11:40:56 am »

"Oh not THAT again".   Yeah, I feel a bit that way sometimes. But we have two new members making their first posts on the topic, and we have Mark Hopwood feeling in with GWR's view and position and within a thread that's specifically covering catering on the GWR's long distance fleet.  So - aired once again. But now if well established members could remember that there gets to be a point beyond which their repetition ceases to have much positive effect, it would be appreciated.

Written as I was typing

In the good old days, editors could say "This correspondence is now closed." when an argument had run its course. I'm sure the moderators would not seek to stifle comment in that way, but maybe that's what is needed now on the whole subject of buffets?

Saying more or less the same thing ... we could lock the thread, of course, which is the modern equivalent. However, we have the luxury of being able to leave it open for new member and at the same time trust the common sense of well established members not to over-repeat.
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