Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Prices frozen!

New news from First Great Western. This is from the BBC, who've linked it to the upcoming fare strike:

"A train company is to double the amount of compensation it pays season ticket holders after failing to meet its punctuality and reliability targets.
First Great Western (FGW) apologised for poor service and said it would also freeze fares and car park charges until the end of the year.
Most season ticket holders are expected to pay the previous year's prices when they renew their 2008 ticket.
The move comes days before a planned fare strike by disgruntled passengers.
Pressure group, More Train Less Strain, said it had received widespread support for the protest scheduled for 28 January across the West Country".
I have already found out how much my season ticket is due to be, when it runs out in a month's time. So, will that amount go down, if it's going back to 2007 prices? I wait and see with much excitement.


Anonymous said...

So three weeks after they jack the fares up, they announce a "fares freeze". Frozen at their current newly-inflated levels of course.
The net benefit to customers - zilch; the net cost to FGW - also zilch.
It makes you proud to be british doesn't it?

Robbie said...

I stumbled across this blog - and like the owner - i too live in Windsor so its quite refreshing to hear that im not the only one who is seething at how appalling this pathetic excuse for a service FGW is. Nothing annoys me more than getting stuck at Slough when the 18:38 (formerly 18:36) arrival from paddington arrives late (as it so frequently does) resulting in the missed connection back to Windsor. What annoys me equally as much is people who simply moan about it - dont tell me, i know how bad FGW. Go get a comments card, fill it in while you wait for the train, and post it when you arrive. Its a prepaid envelope, it costs FGW for you to send it, cost FGW to reply and post this reply back, and in addition the complaint gets documented in their figures...its hardly a lot of money, but if you do this EVERYTIME FGW are late, overcrowded etc it mounts up...it takes 2 minutes.

frequentlyfazed 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!

Anonymous said...

what about useing the sleeper service any help