Yesterday saw Lisa and I travelling to Bristol to attend an afternoon meeting near Temple Meads; what better way to go than on the train? No appropriate service back to our local station of Melksham (15:45 - too early, 21:16 too late) so we travelled from Trowbridge. With all the troubles reported on the Trowbridge to Bristol service in the press, what an excellent chance to see how First are settling in now that they've been in full charge for over a year.
Trowbridge is the county town of Wiltshire, and the station is well used. It's just become part of the "Penalty fare zone" and displays prominent notices warning of 20 pound fines and worse. The single automatic ticket machine has a helpful "Out of service" notice on it, and the booking office had a queue stretching from its single window out of the door. Fortunatley, a scruffy hand-written sign directed me to another ticket window in what appeared to be the staff entrance to the station, where a staff member was waiting on his own for any customers who might turn up.
"It's full and standing" he said as I asked for my tickets. "You may not be able to get on". Ah. "What about the one behind - how long?" "Just a few minutes, bt full and standing from Frome". OK - we went ahead and bought our tickets; a meeting that shouldn't be missed and a good chance to find out is the stories of "Sardine Man" really are true. I also extablished that both trains are 2 cars long and "not being stengthened any more".
Substantially more than 50 people were unable to board the first train to arrive. The Conductor, wearing an Arriva rather than a First uniform, declined to give his name to passengers he was turning away and explained that he needed the rear vestibule almost clear so that he could do his job. Apparently his train was at the limit set by health and safety laws (curious - I didn't think there was such a limit for trains, and I'm not sure how he counted his passengers).
Three minutes behind, another train pulls in - NOT full and standing as it arrived (in spite of what we had been told), but my goodness it WAS when we left!
Towards Bristol - Saturday train loading
People were, again, left behind at Trowbridge and at Bradford-on-Avon; I think room was found for the passengers from Avoncliff and Freshford. The overcrowding was such that it made a few passengers feel slightly uncomfortable, but everyone was goodhumoured (and telling their war stories!). Certainly far busier than the previous train had been when it left Trowbridge - this one was, truely, full.
Standing in the aisles!
The train eased up somewhat it Bath where heavy passenger numbers caused delay ... station duties just a few seconds short of 5 minutes. In Bristol, I noted that the train was due out at 11:24 to Cardiff but was around 40 minutes late.
Return trip - Overcrowdedtoo N.B. - This site is owned and run by a customer of First Great Western and is not an official site of the
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