Friday, January 11, 2008

We can strike too!

As if by magic, my question from the last post has been answered. This comment from Tony at More Train Less Strain was received:
"If anyone from Reading or Maidenhead would like to help to co-ordiante a fare strike on the 28th January we want to hear from you.
Email: and join the 6 fare strikes curently planned."
So, what are you waiting for? Join the strike and make your feelings known.
Even if the drivers and guards don't go ahead with their strike action, we can, and we have lots to complain about.
Also, an interesting discussion on overcrowding is taking place on the Insider's blog In Defence of First Great Western. Go and have a look. He explains it all in a clear and understandable way, but my question is: why is the system in such a mess that First Great Western hasn't got enough carriages (ie: why is no-one making any new ones?), and why does it have to run and ask the government every time it wants more? Why isn't it in control of its own trains? It's a rum old world I tells thee.


Lord Hutton said...

1. Control freaks at DfT
2. Fare strike? I never get asked for my ticket anyway!

Anonymous said...

well, yet again...I have heard this..

Way far too much influence in the rail industry, clueless first group image concious ideas, which are now compared to the wonderful connex southcentral in the south, not something I have heard in 9 years travel in the south.

First group now promoted to the FTSE top 100 UK companies last month, you have been warned.

It's up to you what you guys do, anyway good luck...

I now travel via another company as I have had enough of them..


Anonymous said...

What's the point in passengers going on strike?! they already have the money from our season tickets... am i missing something?!

Anonymous said... please cna oyu all take a couple of minutes out of your busy schedule to sign the following petition (those who have not already done so) thanks!

Anonymous said...

Rarely ‘first’, definitely not ‘great’, but ‘going west’-now that is true!

Company names must always be carefully chosen. They should be memorable, catchy and draw a true and apt picture of the company they represent. Whoever dreamt up the name “First Great Western” must certainly have had vision. “Western” defines the idea that there is a link with some westerly point, “First” implies a leader, the best, a winner and “Great” of course says it all, something of gigantic, immense and of exceptional quality. But, as we have seen in the press recently many travellers who have the distressing experience of commuting with this major rail company have a wholly different picture of the brand.
Let’s get to basics, everyone knows the trains have an awful track record –over-crowding, constant late running and costly tickets, but the dismalness of the whole experience is so much deeper.
There are many people who work in the South West who regularly travel to London. Unfortunately there are no big employers and it is not a place where conferences happen– so for the many people, who partly work remotely or work for the health service, energy companies, communication businesses and government departments travel to London is a necessity. It is a beautiful corner of the world, but an awful place to reach. It is not easy by road, air or rail. However one would certainly suppose that the train would be the most simplistic mode of travel. (And of course the best ecologically.)
For the traveller however, confusion, frustration and distress all comes at a high price! The first mountain any traveller must climb, is the process of deciphering the confusion of actually purchasing a ticket. Unless you can buy a ticket weeks-if not months in advance, you are penalised. . If you are not young, a family or over 60, you are penalised. Most crucially, if, as most business-people need to do, you want to arrive in London by 10am, you are severely penalised. Personally, in order to avoid paying double the fare of this first train, I choose to travel to London the previous evening. It’s not that my company won’t pay for my ticket –I refuse on principle to give First Great Western that additional payment. In my opinion, the service simply does not warrant the added cost. …..Not to mention that First Great Western have the audacity to increase prices to try and discourage people from taking the train? Duh!
For many business people, myself included, meetings are not on the same day each week, so it is impossible to buy a ticket more than a few days before the travel date. Very often you are told it may be cheaper to buy 2 single tickets, instead of a return –why should this be? If you want to buy a single ticket, conversely, you are told that to buy a return will only be £1 more. Does that make sense? Unlike air-travel, there is no support for the frequent traveller. I have travelled to London from Truro almost every week for almost 5 years, for this I get no thanks, nor any reward. (There is no mechanism to do this.)
I travel on what is called “The fast train service from Penzance to London” –yet this train stops at every station from Truro to Plymouth making a long and tedious journey. Why has no one thought to introduce local services that run in tandem so that the “express” trains could deliver a good, efficient and quick service?
More often than not the trains arrive late, 10 minutes one time, 30 minutes another, or, all too frequently, one or two hours late; as happened this week. Planes can fly from Sydney to Heathrow and arrive on time –why can’t a train cross England and arrive punctually?
At weekends the service is almost always impossible. Rarely is it possible to make a complete journey without having to make part of by bus. Just before Christmas, I had to travel by bus from Plymouth to Tiverton Parkway. As the bus arrived, I saw the train leaving the station. When I questioned why this had happened, I was told I had got on the ‘wrong bus’. (Even though I was on the first of several that left Plymouth.) No apology! Once again I arrived 2 hours later that the scheduled time.
There is one saving grace. The “Golden Hind” 18.03 from Paddington to Penzance has a restaurant car serving very acceptable food and enabling a long and very boring journey to be, for a couple of hours, just about agreeable. I understand from the waiters that with new rolling stock this service is unlikely to continue. Yet the buffet food on offer is extremely unhealthy and the choice of sandwiches so poor that most people rush to buy food before getting on the train. Not only that, but from Plymouth onwards, the buffet is often closed. This is especially frustrating in winter, as there is one other bad thing about First Great Western trains. In order to exit the train, you have to open the window of the door. No one closes this window, so as the journey progresses, the train gets steadily colder, by Plymouth it’s often freezing. Just when a hot drink would be welcome, the option disappears.
My expectations of First Great Western are low, my experiences generally unpleasant. The staff on board are generally affable, but their pleasantry does nothing to heighten my very low expectations.
I have no trust in the service. If I have a meeting, I always ensure I have contact numbers because I can never guarantee I will arrive on time. Indeed I usually get an earlier train that I need in the hope that this will get me to my destination.
I feel frustrated, let down and dismayed that in this day and age, a company such as First Great Western can let its ‘loyal’ passengers down so badly. I think it is time to forget that strapline: “Take the train” and think about being cosy and confident in my own car!