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  • Coffee Shop AGM - Didcot: October 16, 2021
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Author Topic: AGM - 16th October 2021 - at Didcot, with guest speaker Mark Hopwood  (Read 4206 times)
eightonedee
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« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2021, 02:48:34 pm »

I had hoped to attend in person, but my wife is singing in a concert at Twyford starting at 16-15 . No hope unfortunately of catching a train without missing Mark H's contribution, even though her venue is close to the station so I shall be "zooming" for most of the meeting. See you there!
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grahame
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« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2021, 04:53:32 am »

I have edited this thread to add Zoom codes for Saturday in the top message. For completeness and to "ping" members who may not spot them, here they are again.  Exceptionally, I will be sending an email to all members too in the next few hours which will include the same links.

Topic: Coffee Shop - Annual review and AGM (Annual General Meeting)
Time: Oct 16, 2021 02:30 PM London
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89322645308?pwd=V2V1dVJaYVM4V2oxdXQvR0hNcm55UT09

Topic: Coffee Shop - Guest Speaker Mark Hopwood
Time: Oct 16, 2021 03:00 PM London
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85074561965?pwd=U01nWkpFTGFWblRxL2U4TnpkOGphQT09

The meeting will be a hybrid one, and I look forward to welcoming those member who choose to attend in person at Didcot too.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2021, 08:21:37 am »

I can't make it today I'm afraid, rugby commitments elsewhere!

Hope it all goes well - the opportunity to quiz Mark Hopwood on his knowledge of/involvement with the Bristol/Waterloo service withdrawal is one that won't be missed I'm sure!

Would also be interested in hearing if he's anything to say about improving weekend long distance reliability and reducing issues around crew shortage.
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Timmer
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« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2021, 04:26:01 pm »

Thanks for arranging this afternoon’s meeting Graham.

And thanks to Mark for giving up his Saturday afternoon to join us lot. Hope his son enjoyed being there too.
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grahame
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« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2021, 07:36:10 pm »

Thanks folk ... just home

Excellent day.

Mark's slides at http://www.passenger.chat/cs_agm_mh.pdf

My waffle to follow.
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grahame
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« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2021, 07:40:22 pm »

My waffle to follow.

Graham Ellis, 16th October 2021

Introduction

This is An AGM (Annual General Meeting) - so it's about the Coffee Shop Forum - and not about the Forum's topic - public transport in the Thames Valley and West of England, majoring on Great Western Railway. Thank you to Mark Hopwood at GWR (Great Western Railway) for following up as a guest speaker after this AGM, to tell you what you're really interested in ;-)

This is styled as an ANNUAL General Meeting, but it's two years since we met - such have been the extraordinary worldwide events.  And we have found ourselves in the extraordinary position of discouraging travel rather than encouraging it - a very strange feeling for public transport advocates.

What we have been doing

The Coffee Shop forum is by, for and about our members and just as the world, and the transport world, have been turned upside down, so has the world for many members. Some members have found themselves out of work or doing very different jobs. A number of members have been ill, and some remain so, both Covid and otherwise; I send them all my very best wishes.  Some have had financial and housing worries.  Almost all of us have found that our daily and weekly routines have changed beyond all recognition, and that ours, our family's and our friends and colleagues. Even if we have coped physically and financially, the emotional storm has been like nothing I had seen before in my lifetime, and I know I am not alone in that.

With these life changes for everyone, the Coffee Shop has provided both a source of current information and a social club and support mechanism. I have spent many, many more hours on the phone than ever before and our "Tuesday Club" on Zoom (every Tuesday during lockdowns, then once a month) provided a route to meet up with people with similar interests, and help reduce that feeling of isolation. With rail and bus travel open again, all be it different to it was, we can put a "tick" mark against the Tuesday Club as a job well done, and move on to occasional meetings on specific subjects as appropriate in the future.

Some members, and rail passenger advocate friends, have passed away too and aren't with us in person for that future. With over 2,000 members and most of us in the second rather than first half of life that us statistically bound to happen, but the last two years have been worse than most.  The nature of a forum such as ours is that friends just disappear and we may or may not hear weeks, months or years later.  I have a number of names of people who are gone for sure - but they are not gone in my memory, nor in their positive influence in the rail advocate world, and as friends. And I'm going to ask you to take just a minute to think both of those who have passed, and those about who we miss, worry about, and hope they are doing well elsewhere.

It is remarkable how stable and consistent the Coffee Shop forum itself has been during the past two years.  Here are new topics and post counts over the last three years:
Month      Topics   Posts
March 2019   169   2236
September 2019   90   1310
March 2020   199   2239
September 2020   101   1316
March 2021   117   1417
September 2021   113   1478

As I write, our stats are 14 years, 2871 members, 22808 topics, 310423 individual posts.

109 of our members have been logged in within the last 24 hours, with an additional three times than number as guests. People who visit come on average between 2 and 3 times per day, and view between 5 and 6 pages per session. All of which makes for around 95,000 pages served per month. 93% of these pages are served to UK (United Kingdom) locations, with France, Sweden and Ireland being notably well represented too for the size of the country. There are between 40 and 50 visitors in a typical hour during the day; it drops off after 10 p.m. and is just a handful of visitors each hour during the night, picking up around 7 a.m.

A big "Thank you" to the admin and moderator team - 3 admins and 9 moderators have been active so far yesterday and today, but a big "thank you" too to members, who make our team's life to easy and, in truth, give us little to do except enjoy the forum as regular members amongst friends and occasionally help adjust the tags to make a post show correctly, or correct a spelling of mine.

The forum HAS drifted from purely coverage of GWR trains and stations to include some limited coverage of neighbouring franchises (or should we now call them management contracts) and bus and active travel too. In January of this year, we set up a new board relating to Railway History and recently we also assigned the very occasional model railway posts we have to that area.

Our server move last September worked well - still running some older software on the new machine, but reliability of the databases has dramatically improved.  A new access to the Cloud machine allows me to access from Iona.

Chat did not prove popular and was hard to staff. Quietly faded. Thank you to those who helped with that experiment.

Other things that have (been) changed / added / done:
* New search and archives.
* Vicki's superb work on Abbreviations and Acronyms.
* Data feeds from Tiger have changed.
* Dynamic rollovers.
* Maps.
* Flexible geographics map.

What we plan to do - forum

My Dad used to say he looked forward to a budget speech where the Chancellor got up and said "it's all going fine, so I'm not changing anything". We're not quite there, but the sentiment is good and anticipated changes are development and adjust too and perhaps ahead of the times.

I was approached by a company looking to buy the forum - "I reached out a few months ago about our interest in purchasing your forum and wanted to take the time to follow up".  Discussed by the moderator team, conclusion was "We should keep our independence".

* https and in due course upgrade to PHP7 software
* Tidy up station data
* Lime Survey
* Continuing the move from purely GWR to public and active transport across the SW Zone
* Should we have a "Passenger Experience" board / other changes?

What we plan to do - happening around us, to talk about

As Covid recovery continues, aid rail industry in promotion -  But are they really interested in Leisure traffic?

Campaigning - currently "The Waterloos"

Bus back better
Build back better

Great British Railways

Talk notes - Graham Ellis, updated 08:00 on 16th October 2021
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grahame
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« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2021, 08:32:47 am »

Quote
Hi, Anne

Many thanks for the use of the hall - worked very well got us.   Hope we left it spick and span, keys in the box.

Slight confusion on exit - fried to check loo and almost locked a member in, but we wanted him back (too valuable to “lose” to you).  Think we sorted it out and hopefully you didn’t get any alarm codes through.

Our next AGM (Annual General Meeting) will be - err - next year … date to be set and I may very well be in touch.  Plan is “early autumn, before the clocks go back"

Thanks again

Graham

Quote
Dear Mark and Tom,

Many thanks, Mark and Tom for giving up your Saturday afternoon and (Tom) for all the prep work too.

A very interesting afternoon - about 40 people present in the room and on Zoom - really appreciate your working with the hybrid meeting which was something of an experiment.

With an understanding overview of the issues, our members can be that much more helpful in supporting a return to rail - as we have supported GWR (Great Western Railway) over the years, at the same time raising concern and questions - really appreciate your openness in answering them, and helping us manage expectations.   

We’re headed into very much unknown territory at the moment - far more so than I can remember, but however things develop we look forward to working further with our friends in the rail industry

Graham
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2021, 09:21:30 am »

Graham - is there any chance of a summary of the Q & A with Mark Hopwood for those of us that weren't able to attend?

Thanks
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« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2021, 09:46:32 am »

Graham - is there any chance of a summary of the Q & A with Mark Hopwood for those of us that weren't able to attend?

Thanks

I have notes, but I'm out and about today.  BobM was with us at least for the AGM (Annual General Meeting), but I know he had to leave for w**k later in the afternoon.  If BobM has notes, good ... if not I will go through but it's behind a few other things to do.
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« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2021, 10:18:32 am »


...but I know he had to leave for w**k later in the afternoon. 

Too much information!
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« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2021, 11:34:47 am »

I have compiled formal minutes of the AGM (Annual General Meeting) part of the meeting which I have emailed in draft form to Graham.

I didn't take notes of the second part of the afternoon.  Partly because as I was on zoom it wasn't always possible to hear questions from the floor.

Hopefully Graham's notes will confirm it was a useful session with a frank look back at the issues of the last year or so and looking ahead some definite plans.  One headline I do remember is that from tomorrow driver training will resume in its traditional format rather than operating in bubbles which has restricted the amount of in cab training which has been possible.
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grahame
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« Reply #26 on: October 17, 2021, 04:16:15 pm »

I have compiled formal minutes of the AGM (Annual General Meeting) part of the meeting which I have emailed in draft form to Graham.

I didn't take notes of the second part of the afternoon.  Partly because as I was on zoom it wasn't always possible to hear questions from the floor.


Draft looks good (and I spot plagiarism in action from my stuff  Grin ) but I will read when I'm back home.

The specific question was for a report on the Q&A and I have written up as follow - my rough notes so I may not be 100% accurate and have missed something:

Q: Portway Parkway - When?
A: On plan

Q: Turbo - are they any plans to go 2+2
A: Going for refurb. They have some 2+2 but mostly 2+3 and that stays.  Not that most journey on the route are quite short, so not everyone needs long distance seats.

Q: Are you happy with NR» (Network Rail - home page) timetable planning and train regulation?
A: In pratice, we do most of our own timetabling.  And it's got a lot better but never 100% happy with regulation?

Q: Heart of Wessex ...
A: Challenges, partly issues with CRP (Community Rail Partnership) and local authorities not lookig forward. Powerful local advocates, but no clarity of purpose. Would / should benefit from 769s which will let more turbos cascade.  Gaps in service and frequency issues acknowledged and single line sections need reduction. The back platform at Castle Cary is an issue as only 3 cars and so a 5 car Turbo cannot use it.   Looking at providind door opening for just part of train

Q: Business case pressure on the sleeper and on Catering
A: Costing not good on sleeper however it's political and no-one is going to risk it. Catering tends to be used by leisure traffic so has come back much more stringer than overall train use.  Pullman not profitavke in inself but huge marketing benefir.

Q: Account base ticketing for regulars. Also "edge" eletrificition to places like Bedwyn and Oxford.
A: [didn't note details - local schemes around]. Mark considers Oxford main not edge. Noting improving battery technology.  When 769s come in, 44% of North Dons line electic - better than diesel trains on electric lines. Improved batteries in time shoudl allow charge on electric sections and battery on other sections.

Edit - I have corrected one of the questions - correction supplied to me by the questioner
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« Reply #27 on: October 17, 2021, 05:36:39 pm »

The issue of traincrew shortages was addressed during Mark’s presentation where he acknowledged it’s discussed a lot on the forum. Driver shortages are still an issue with quite a number of drivers retiring or going over to other companies such as freight.

GWR (Great Western Railway) have not been able to replace drivers as quickly owing to covid restrictions on driver training with trainees having to remain in bubbles with their trainer restricting their ability to drive as many trains as part of qualifying to become a train driver.

Gave an example where recently 120 drivers are now qualified only to have 120 drivers retire during the same time period.

As has been mentioned elsewhere, from tomorrow (Monday 18th) restrictions on driver training are lifted so this should speed the process of driver training up.

On the issue of turbos on the Cardiff to Portsmouth line. The turbos are staying along with 3+2 seating with the view that there aren’t many long distance journeys taking place, mainly short ones such as Cardiff-Bristol, Bristol/Bath-Trowbridge and Salisbury-Southampton. Not many travel all the way from Cardiff to Portsmouth!

The refurbishment program has started with the same current 3+2 layout being retained with the old first class sections retaining 2+2 seating. Acknowledged they aren’t always operating as five car sets.

One ray of hope was that Mark said he would like to see a new fleet of trains for regional services. I think that’s a long way off and will be for GBR (Great British Railways)/Dft to decide as that’s another case of ooooooosss gonna pay for it?!?!

I am a bit disappointed that traveling long distances on the Cardiff to Portsmouth line isn’t really being promoted by using unsuitable rolling stock, coupled with the proposed loss of the superior 159s on the Bristol to Salisbury section of the line. However, with Metro West coming soon, this could see the speeding up of Cardiff-Portsmouth services. I guess this along with the turbos being refurbished may encourage long distance travel again such as Bristol and Bath to Southampton.

Just a couple of items from yesterday’s meeting. Those who were also there, please please add, comment or correct anything I have written above.

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« Reply #28 on: October 18, 2021, 12:46:11 pm »

"One ray of hope was that Mark said he would like to see a new fleet of trains for regional services. I think that’s a long way off and will be for GBR (Great British Railways)/Dft to decide as that’s another case of ooooooosss gonna pay for it?!?!"

Perhaps build some proper inter city trains for long distance services and use the IETs (Intercity Express Train) for regional services ? It is not just me who considers that IET are unsuitable for inter city services.

No one is going to scrap such expensive new trains, so re-use on secondary services sounds sensible.
Unless the cracks get so bad that they DO have to be scrapped.
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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 (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #29 on: November 07, 2021, 11:18:12 pm »

"One ray of hope was that Mark said he would like to see a new fleet of trains for regional services. I think that’s a long way off and will be for GBR (Great British Railways)/Dft to decide as that’s another case of ooooooosss gonna pay for it?!?!"

Perhaps build some proper inter city trains for long distance services and use the IETs (Intercity Express Train) for regional services ? It is not just me who considers that IET are unsuitable for inter city services.

No one is going to scrap such expensive new trains, so re-use on secondary services sounds sensible.
Unless the cracks get so bad that they DO have to be scrapped.
I consider the seats on the IETs to be unsuitable for anything an expensive 125mph train could possibly be suitable for. I also consider pointy nose cones and a lack of unit end gangways to be less than ideal for regional services (although an IET refitted with decent seats in a suitable layout would be an improvement on anything with doors at thirds). The three biggest issues with the IETs (assuming the cracks are fixed) are:
  • Unit lengths AKA (also known as) ratio of driving vehicles to intermediate coaches
  • Greenhouse gas emissions (although this is more an issue with the failure of governments to upgrade the infrustructure than an issue with the trains)
  • Interior fit out / specification issues (eg. unsuitable seats and location of kitchen hidden in 1st class preventing provision of buffet for standard class passengers)

I also dislike the choice of pocket doors instead of plug doors, but this is not sufficient to justify scrapping the trains and the three issues above can in theory be resolved without scrapping them also. In my view additional intermediate coaches (NOT fitted with diesel engines) should be built to allow GWR (Great Western Railway)'s 36x 5-car class 800s to be lengthened. Diesel engines from the existing vehicles could be shuffled around (either with or without the coaches they are currently fitted to) so that some sets would have no diesel engines at all, becoming EMUs (Electric Multiple Unit) to support electrification to Oxford, Bristol and Swansea.

Since extending a large proportion of the 5-car fleet would reduce (or ideally eliminate) the operation of IETs in pairs, GWR would require fewer units (with one 9-car unit replacing a pair of 5-car units). This would allow some of the extended units to be cascaded to CrossCountry - I suggest these be eight carriage sets with diesel engines under all six intermediate coaches to avoid power-to-weight ratio issues. These 8-car sets would replace XC's remaining 2+7 IC125s, plus potentially several Voyagers depending on how many sets GWR are able to release.
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----------------------------
Don't DOO (Driver-Only Operation (that is, trains which operate without carrying a guard)) it, keep the guard (but it probably wouldn't be a bad idea if the driver unlocked the doors on arrival at calling points).
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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