Friday, March 28, 2008

Seeing Red

I cannot tell you how eye-poppingly angry I was last night at First Great Western. Of course this is not true. I can, and am about to tell you in great detail, so please brace yourself.
Here goes: I was at the pub after work, as someone was leaving, so I stayed for a few drinks. I left the pub at half past nine, aiming to catch the 2221 from Paddington, getting into Slough at 2243, and with a comfortable seven minutes to wait until my Windsor train at 2250, getting me home around eleven, in plenty of time for a reasonably early night.
I got to Paddington in plenty of time to catch the train, but of course they left us standing on the platform in front of the few grubby carriages, no-one thinking to open the door and let us sit down like the tired human beings we all clearly were. They announce the platform and open the doors immediately the train arrives on South West Trains - why don't they do this on FGW? Still, I digress.
They finally opened the doors and I settled down with my book, unaware that 2221 had come and gone until an announcement revealed that the driver was late arriving at the station "but should be here in approximately three minutes". The driver being late is one of the worst excuses of all time, as it's entirely avoidable. Why the hell was the driver late?
The train finally pulled out at 2236, fifteen minutes late, meaning that I missed my connection at Slough, and had to ring home for a lift. If I'd waited for the next Windsor train, I'd have been home at about half past eleven.
So far, so normal, you might say, but this is why I was so angry.
I had chosen FGW over South West Trains on the basis that the journey was considerably quicker, at least on paper. But here's the thing. It would have been better for me to take the longer tube journey to Waterloo, catch the 2228 (leaving seven minutes later than the Paddington train) and stop THIRTEEN times at stations on the way to Windsor, and I still would have arrived home earlier than if I'd waited at Slough for the next Windsor train, having missed my connection.
Let me say this again: The fast train from Paddington to Slough, stopping ONCE, followed by a six minute trip to Windsor from Slough, took longer last night than a South West Train service stopping thirteen times, and leaving seven minutes later.
This is just simply not good enough, and I'm absolutely furious about it.
I'm delighted to say that South West Trains have now cancelled their planned strike action, so I have no reason to set foot back on FGW for the time being, which is probably a good thing, as I would be freely flinging I Hate First Great Western badges around with great abandon.
The only good news for those poor souls who have no choice in their train provider is that the free off-peak First Class upgrade is back. It can't make the trains go faster, but at least you can have a free cup of tea while you wait. For your voucher, go here.
Anyway, rant over, thanks for listening. Sorry to go on, but it could have been worse. I was so angry last night, only the lateness of the hour prevented me from logging on and updating my blog then and there. I think it's safe to say it's lucky I didn't, or your poor ears might have been insulted by my terrible language.


Ollie said...

Couple of reasons for driver being late:

1. Late inbound train
2. Late taxi (he may have had to take empty stock to Old Oak Common and this usually involves a taxi back to Paddington

In regard to doors being closed, if there is no driver, the train has some sort of time out which switches off the engine.

Anonymous said...

Good to see those £40,000+ a year drivers have steopped down from their strikes eh?

Lord Hutton said...

Well, on Saturday AM we were due to catch the 0744 out of Teignmouth to conect to the 0826 SWT from St Davids to Waterloo. It was cancelled due to lack of traincrew (idiots!), meaning no chance of catching the connection in Exeter. FGW advised us to go back to Newton Abbot and stay on the next train to Paddington, at no extra charge, which we did, and got in to London half an hour earlier than expected by SWT.
Coming home, SWT were just perfect and right on time.
Chiltern to Aylesbury and back were on time to the second! (but that is European ownership for you)

Judy said...

On Saturday I had to catch the 0557 from Slough to Reading. Ten minutes late. If they're already running late at that time of the morning, what on earth were they like for the rest of the day? Thank goodness for the 25 minute wait for my connection at Reading (which I'd been moaning about). South West Trains were fine...

Jeremy said...

Flaming hell are you 13?
Is your life that empty you have to slag off a train company?
Walk, catch a bus, use different service, drive, catch a taxi, cycle or fly to work if you hate it THAT much

Anonymous said...

Erm.. Jeremy.. Is your life so empty that you have to slag off someone who is writing a blog on the internet?

I challenge you to fly from Windsor to London, or Cycle, or even drive and be able to park. As for a cab.. Don't be silly..

We're at the mercy of public transport travelling into London.. Fortunately when it is bad, we are allowed to complain. If you don't like it, don't read the blog?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Anonymous... As I commented to Jeremy.. If you don't like people moaning about travelling on FGW, then don't read the blog..

We are allowed to express our opinion without being shouted (and sworn) at thank you...