Thursday, April 03, 2008

First Class? Hardly

My business (okay, it was a friend's birthday) took me to Paddington last night for a bite to eat and a few drinks.
It seemed ridiculous for me to take South West Trains to Waterloo instead of First Great Western to Paddington, so I bit the bullet and got onto the dreaded Slough train. The journey there was fine, apart from being crowded and dirty, but so far so normal, it came on time so that was the main thing. On the journey home, I took advantage of my free off-peak first class upgrade (see previous post for how you can receive yours) and got into the first class section of the 2214 Paddington to Reading train.
Now, I realise that these small stopping services don't have swish carriages, but honestly, there was very little to differentiate this section of the train from any other. It was covered in rubbish, the seats were torn, and various annoying loud people came and sat in it even though they didn't have first class tickets ("Come on, it's fine, they don't check at this time of night").
To be honest, there's no point in having a first class section on these small chuggy trains, because to call them 'first class' is a bit embarrassing. They're just a very slightly cleaner, very slightly quieter area where there's a door protecting you from the full horror of what's going on in the rest of the train. And, the worst thing of all - there's no free cake and tea!
I realise that there's usually no train manager working on these trains, but, as I've said before, there should be, because travelling in the evenings on FGW is a horrible horrible experience, and those people who pay for a real first class ticket must be horrified when they see what their extra millions have bought them.
Note to self - arrange to go out in Waterloo next time.


Anonymous said...

Is first class accomodation on services in and out of Waterloo any better then? Making allowances for the ages of the trains concerned.

Lord Hutton said...

It makes such a difference when they have a helpful member of staff about

JameiLei said...

We took a train in Birmingham (London Midland) a while back, and there was such a crush, we decided to "do the honourable" and sit in First Class to allow 4 more poor souls to squeeze onto train. I really don't think much of it at all - Virgin Trains has first class, with complimentary tea, biscuits and a newspaper, but Commuter Trains rarely have any additional benefits rather than "keeping the plebs out". Which doesn't work.

Some of the 450s to Waterloo have been upgraded to High Density with no first class. Would the blogger be able to say if the "High Density" sets run to Windsor - they say HD above the unit number at the front/back of the train.

Anonymous said...

if you hate the service so much, simple solution dont use it!

Anonymous said...

London Midland??....

At least the staff seem happier and less down trodden.

Perhaps a focus for first to look at?? instead of lots of glossy civil servant seducing publicity pictures.

stebbo said...

Suggest Third Rate Western copy Chiltern - standard class only and great service

Anonymous said...

London Midland, happier staff? I think not. Given they have inherited the fag end of the work (EMT and XC got the longer distance stuff) and are in the main a suburban outfit, they get far greater levels of abuse, spitting, threats and actual violence than many of the longer distance operators (staff will testify this).

First class is a waste of time on local commuter services, and should be scrapped, and left for long distance regional (e.g. SWT Weymouths) and intercity stuff.

The Thames stuff is all DOO, so no guard. Guards should be provided for operational reasons, but it doesn't help when ticket barriers are open at all hours of the night, letting all the scum on to make the units so vile to travel on. And the poster above going on about the standard on Chiltern's clubman trains is quite correct, although their turbos are equally ropey as FGWs.

Anonymous said...

the reason why there are no Guards on the night trains is because websites like this one stir up so much hatred that whenever the guard ventures out he/she is subject to rudeness and assaults behond belief. You can't have it both ways.

I hate FGW said...

Yes, absolutely, the few dozen people across the network who read this blog are entirely to blame for drunken and violent behaviour towards guards on late night trains. Righty ho. Ooooooor, do I in fact have plenty to say about how much I hate rude people and suggest that they don't take out their problems on the staff, who are merely trying to do their jobs? You decide.

Anonymous said...

I hardly think a few disgruntled commuters are responsible for assaults and violence against staff. Sure they might have a little rant (which is largely pointless, and better directed at those higher up in the business).

As for guards not coming out at night, who can blame them. They have zero power to deal with the idiots vandalising, smoking, travelling without tickets, will get in trouble for delaying trains for police attendance (which is variable), and risk getting assaulted, and losing their jobs and being blacklisted from the industry if they defend themselves.

Why not have a fares strike over issues like this, get the passenger focus groups and RMT on your side, so you get staff support too. If it's not safe for the guard to venture out and deal with these muppets, how can it be safe for the fare paying passenger?

Anonymous said...

I just tried to purchase a First Class return ticket from Haverfordwest to Paddington. On reading the timetable however, I notice that there isn't a first class service until Swansea which is 60 miles into the journey. On the return journey, I have to change at Newport (120 miles to go) and the connecting train doesn't have first class at all. Isn't this against the Trades Descriptions Act?

Anonymous said...

First group could not run a piss up in a brewery .. No man management skills..
1.9 billion in debt and hated by everyone !

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