Tuesday, June 03, 2008

And now, for our Welsh viewers

Hello all
Sorry it's been a while since my last missive. I have been away to the fair isle of Ireland, and not a train did I see during that time, armed as I was with a Ford Focus and a road map.
But, on my return, I have discovered that viewers in Wales will be able to watch the Week In Week Out programme about the train service from Wales to London (featuring my good self) on the 10th of June. So tune in, and let me know if I sound like a bit of a loon, as when you have to explain why you run a blog called "I Hate First Great Western" and send badges out to people bearing this legend, it's hard to come off as normal. Still, no change there.
I was interested to read a comment on my last post from a visitor who thought that free WiFi access was a great idea, and one which would affect their choice of train provider, so hopefully FGW will be watching and listening, and fingers crossed this perk may be available soon. I'm still very much enjoying the free off-peak first class upgrade, that really is a favourite.
This led me to wonder what other PR victories the company could score, by simply adding a few extra bonuses to their service. Answers on a postcard.
I've also been whiling away my leisure time coming up with a controversial theory as follows (I expect much abuse for this one, but hear me out):
Why not make the trains slower? In other words, leave a bit more time for them to get between stations, and stop for a few minutes each time. This is what the little shuttle does between Windsor and Slough, it sits for at least five minutes each end, and as a result is never late. If the train timetables were more realistic, and allowed for a minute or two extra at each station, the trains would be much more likely to be on time, because a few minutes delay here and there could be soaked up by not stopping so long at the next stop.
And, if you think that's mad, just ask yourself if you'd rather take a 30 minute journey that was always on time, rather than a 15 minute journey that was very often late?
I always choose South West trains from Windsor to London. It takes twice as long on paper, but in practice, it's often quicker, and it's virtually always on time.
So, should First Great Western take a look at their services, and give themselves a reality check?


Anonymous said...

How I agree. People often quote train services on the continent being more reliable, this is because they tootle along at a slower pace, and when things go wrong they can then easily make up the time. However, I remember a few years ago when Southwest Trains wanted to add 10 minutes to the journey time from Exeter to Waterloo, passengers from Axminster were up in arms.

Anonymous said...

Not such a daft idea, because it's actually happened on the GWML. Over the last 25 years services have gradually got slower. Anyone remember the Padd to Parkway services in 1hr 5 mins? Swindon in 47mins. Even the stoppers take longer than they ever used to.

Anonymous said...

Many think that adding more time to the schedule will yes make the times officially run 'on time', but will then give FGW no incentive to make things more efficient. Surely that would be the "easy way out" which FGW is not taking.

I work for FGW and think it should stay as it is, and we should be working harder to meet our current scheduling ON TIME. From my experience though, this also requires travellers to be ON TIME for trains and assist with dispatch ie. shut the doors behind you properly and we can then get those trains out again.

Anonymous said...

No, for two reasons:

*there is already too much slack in current timetables

*slack timetable = slack train operation - i.e. no incentive for train crews to be quick at despatching trains "as the train will make up time easily."

More slack = more delays.

Richard, FGW said...

Actually the bit about delays is complete tosh...the reduction in delays and cancellations is one thing you can't accuse FGW of not sorting out.

They're currently running at about the same number per day that they had in a month. Still needs to get better, but don't say nothing is being done...

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