Monday, July 02, 2007

Will I also hate Virgin?

I'm being given the opportunity to try out another train service this week, as my work takes me to Birmingham. Not sure how that happened, but there it is.
The only things I've noticed about Virgin to date are the amount of time the trains seem to spend sitting at the platform at Reading station (long), the length of delays the services are able to rack up on a long distance journey (epic), and the fact that the staff look like airline cabin crew in their swish new red trains. This is probably not enough information for me to make a proper comparison with the services of First Great Western, so I shall be taking copious notes.
This latest development also means that I have a seat reservation on the 18:45 from Paddington to Reading on Wednesday which I won't be using. Any takers?


Anonymous said...

Hurrah a blog about FGW. First I knew of this was when a lady handed me a card and a badge on the late running 18.02 service to Penzance - I only wanted to go to Maidenhead!
I want to know why FGW cannot be honest, why do they have to be so devious? Their management of the timetable issues, fares, trains is just diabolical and because of this it seems that they lie to cover up their own mismanagement.
Why have they let Theresa May only see the morning timetable Maidenhead to Paddington for Dec 07 and not the evening? There can be only one reason show the nice bits first and the nasty bits second.
Their cynical management of the timetable to maximise revenue further up the line is further proof of their hidden agenda not to mention reduction in services and increase in fares. Who can get away with that equation these days? Not me in my business. I will support this site and the campaign.

Anonymous said...

Monday 2/07 was an experience in itself. Major delays worse than I have seen.

Take a look at IWFFGW, it is a new site, not really worked on as yet it seems.

Anonymous said...

In my experiece, when it comes to day to day running of services Virgin isn't much better than FGW although they have a harder job than FGW because they have lots of longer distance trains.

The one thing that they do better than FGW is that rather than having a management that concentrates on coming up with excuses for problems and appologising, they have a dynamic management which is not affraid to try out new things like fitting WiFi access, fairtrade coffee in the buffet, running extra trains in the summer to the SW resorts, introducing motorbikes to take you to your station, running the UK's first biodesiel train, introducing tilting etc.

Virgin are dynamic and risk taking (the two supposed qualities of the private sector that were used to justify privatisation in the first place) and have a business model based on attracting new customers whereas FGW will always go for the safe low cost option and have a busines model based on screwing as much cash out of commuters who have little choice.

Virgin are not great but they act like they are still trying to improve things whereas FGW give the impression of having given up.

I rather have Virgin's flashy style over substance than FGW's excuses over substance

Billyo said...

I think that one of Virgin's big problems is that they pass everyone else's stations and don't look after many themselves. This can lead to many delays, particularly on their cross-country services, as was explained to me by one of their train crew once.

For example, Sheffield station is run by Midland mainline. In the old days if a cross-country Inter City service was a couple of minutes late then local services would be held so the fast train could go out in front. Now because the companies have targets to meet, if a Virgin train is late, the local signalmen send the slow stopping service out on time and the virgin train goes out behind it, thus exacerbating the delay. This happens all over the country and can lead to virgin trains having some whopping delays.

Simon said...

I use Virgin trains about once a month, and FGW every day.

The time keeping of both services is about the same, but the main differences are

- Never had a Virgin train break down on me, air conditioning failure, or power failure
- Virgin trains are cleaner
- Virgin train managers ALWAYS talk to the passengers, provide information, etc

It's hard to be objective, but my last journey to Liverpool via Virgin was delayed by 40 minutes. We where regularly updated on the delay, and the train manager was touring the train helping passengers with connection issues.

This occasionally happens on FGW, but all too often when there is a delay, the train manager hides.

Dan G said...

Can only agree with what's been said. Virgin Trains are clean and comfortable, and their staff incredibly polite and helpful. They rack up the delays as they run such long services crossing so many sectors. I've been on a VT stuck behind the local FGW stopper and it's incredibly frustrating.

I hate FGW said...

I must admit, although it was just one return journey, I was pleasantly surprised by the service on Virgin. Although they do struggle with delays, they seem to be trying lots of new things to make things better for passengers, which can only be a good thing. Up Virgin! (sounds a bit rude)