I imagine most of you will be settling back this weekend and enjoying Christmas already, so in the spirit of the tradition of playing word games whilst slumped on the sofa after a massive roast lunch, I thought it would be fun to give you a few anagrams of "I Hate First Great Western" that I've been slaving over whilst at the office today.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Posted by Helen at 13:32
Monday, December 17, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Why don't train companies give us a boost by offering lightboxes, either on the trains or in the stations? Bright light therapy helps 80% of people with S.A.D. and can also be effective for anyone who's feeling a bit down in the dark months. They could even hire them out for the journey, as any delays would mean a longer exposure, and a happier passenger as a result.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
It was with great sadness earlier today that I stepped into the last first-class carriage in which I am properly entitled to sit down and make myself comfy.
Yes, the free first-class upgrade has expired, no more will a free flapjack and a cup of tea brighten up my trips to work. RIP upgrade, I will miss you a lot.
But, what other news?
Those of you who use Facebook may notice that anti-First Great Western groups are springing up there - it seems the anger is still running just as high as it was when I felt compelled to start this blog more than ten months ago. One has even named itself "I Hate First Great Western", but has no relation to this blog, though I hope its members will come and visit, and perhaps order a badge or two.
So, ten months on, are things any better at all? Well, I do feel that I have a better understanding of why bad things happen, but I must admit the customer service still doesn't seem to have improved much, what's your experience?
I'm about to try and take the major step of changing my season ticket, so that it runs from my new home in Windsor instead of from Pangbourne. I imagine this will not go off without a hitch, but we'll see.
There's still no news of when my meeting with the First Great Western people will take place. They're quite busy with the Ufton Nervet inquest at the moment, so fair enough, but it's been rather a long time since I asked. I hope to be able to bring you some answers to some hard questions in the next week or two.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Friday, September 07, 2007
The Guardian newspaper reports today that FGW has appointed a new "over-arching" manager, Andrew Haines, while managing director Alison Forster focuses temporarily on the company's high-speed train services. I'm not sure what this means in terms of my forthcoming interview with a senior manager, but I will give the company a call on Monday and find out.
In the meantime, what do we know about Mr Haines? Here are five interesting things I found on the internet (I won't say "facts" as they are not double-sourced and I don't want to find myself being accused of "sexing-up" the blog):
- he's from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales (but we won't hold that against him, ha ha, only joking)
- he once had a holiday job in the lost luggage office at Victoria, and joined British Rail as a graduate in 1985 (a lifetime of trains!)
- according to one transport correspondent, he once shed four stone in as many months (clearly has some serious self-control)
- in an address to a the International Rail Operators Young Professionals in 2006, he reportedly told his audience that plans often fail because people look too much to the future and that instead, you should “Live in the world you are in” (sage advice indeed)
- finally, and best of all, Mr Haines agreed to sit down and listen to the concerns of commuters in an interview in 2004, when he was managing director of South West Trains (hurrah, there is hope for us!)
Andrew Haines is also himself a commuter. I like him already, now let's see what he can do.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
So, here it is, Mark Thomas and one of his McDemo colleagues hating First Great Western on our behalf. They certainly don't look very happy, but that might be because they had a total of 181 demos to do that day, and I think this was the first.
Still no cheque from First Great Western, but this may be partly due to the postal system collapsing around our ears.
The Insider has posted a very interesting explanation of the madness and complications of the fare system, so if this is your particular beef, go and visit him here. I tried to read it all, but began to lose the will to live about half way down, I'm so glad I'm not the one trying to sell the tickets, the system's a mess!
I'm beginning to feel a bit like a message board, so let me tell you a story instead.
I'm on a late shift again. Last time I worked a late shift on a Friday, there was a drunken businessman being sick next to the departure boards. Let's call him Mike. He wasn't in a good way, and a kind young drunken man was trying to help him get home. Let's call him Jim. Then a much less kind drunk person decided that Jim was patronising Mike, and tried to have a fight with Jim. So far, so typical of Friday nights on Paddington Station.
But then, amazingly, everyone joined in to look after Mike. Once he was on the train, the whole carriage decided he was their pet project for the way home. Despite the fact that he kept disappearing under the luggage rack to be sick, everyone was very nice to him, and made sure he got onto the platform safely at Reading. I'm afraid to say I don't know what happened to him after that, as I didn't really fancy taking him home in my car, what with him being sick everywhere every five minutes and all. The most intriguing thing about Mike was that he was carrying two umbrellas. Jim was very concerned that either he'd stolen the second umbrella, or, more worryingly, that it belonged to another extremely drunk businessman who he'd lost somewhere along the way.
There are two things I took away from that journey. The first is that drunken people aren't always annoying and stupid, though they usually are. That trip was fun, everyone was in a good mood, and the atmosphere was great.
The second is that I thank FGW from the bottom of my heart for the off-peak first class upgrade that will allow me to escape the worst of the pantomime tonight, as it's not usually anywhere near as fun as that.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Monday, August 06, 2007
My diary informs me that it is now 100 days since First Great Western failed to provide a bus replacement service, and left me beside the side of the road in the middle of the night, forcing me to spend £12.00 on a taxi to get home.
Since then I have written three letters of complaint, and received two rail travel vouchers and a free standard-class return trip to the location of my choice.
What I have still not received, sadly, is the £12.00 which was the subject of my original request.
I'm wondering what comes now, as I pen my fourth complaint letter this week. The apologies have become more and more grovelling, the offers of free travel more and more generous, but still no cheque arrives, so what next? Well, my fingers are crossed for a first-class upgrade, as I am thoroughly enjoying my free three-month off-peak upgrade, (see previous post to find out how to get yours, if you haven't already) but I fear that may be beyond the power of even the most senior complaints manager.
Still, it can't hurt to ask. I'll let you know how I get on.
On another note, it seems more and more people are jumping to the defence of FGW, and setting up blogs to answer our questions and explain the problems behind the delays. This is great, and the sort of thing that the FGW management has been too short-sighted to provide so far. So, please visit In Defence of First Great Western and see if you can get your questions answered.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Well, last night's trip home was a bundle of fun I can tell you.
Due to what I eventually found out was a great big gigantic signal failure (that is the technical term), we were all turfed off our late night train at Slough, and treated to a double decker bus ride through Maidenhead and Twyford, before being deposited at Reading. Through a stroke of luck, my car happened to be at a friend's house in Reading, otherwise I shudder to think how I would have got home to Pangbourne, where another dreaded rail replacement bus is also in place from Tilehurst because of work on the line. I still didn't make it home until after 1am, but at least it didn't cost me anything.
So, this leads me to another question - why do signals fail so frequently, and why can't they be fixed or replaced so that they don't fail so often?
Signal failure is one of the most common reasons why trains are delayed, so I feel I should try and learn a bit more about it. I realise that the signals are not part of FGW's remit, but I don't care about that, I just want to know why the system doesn't work, and how to fix it.
This is all I know so far from a brief foray on the internet: signals can fail for a variety of reasons (what reasons?) and when they do, they always "fail safe", which means they go to red for safety reasons. That's about it. I can't find anything more helpful, apart from very technical descriptions of type of signal and signal procedures, which I can't bring myself to read.
So, rail fans, what's the answer? Whose fault is it and why isn't it being sorted?