Thursday, June 12, 2008

Standing room only

I've been thinking about setting up a survey, to find out if things have changed on First Great Western in the past year, and whether you're seeing any improvement in the service. The company says nine out of ten trains are now running on time, so it sounds like things are getting better, but if anyone will know the truth, it's the 'haters' who visit this blog, so I'll be putting together a few questions in the next few days, and asking you for your opinions.

In the meantime, it seems there's still hate out there. I received an e-mail from a good friend this morning as follows:

"I'm so angry!! There are 'revenue protection officers' at Reading station this morning stopping anyone not holding a first class ticket from even standing up the first class end of the PLATFORM! They are now saying you can incur a penalty fare for STANDING in the first class end of the train! I wish I had some of your badges this morning I can tell you! So cross, on a 7.42 overcrowded service to not allow people to stand in first class is utterly ridiculous!"

Surely, surely, on a seriously overcrowded train, not to even allow passengers to stand in the vestibules is unreasonable? Reading to Paddington is only 22 minutes, so first class passengers don't have that long to put up with not being able to move around the train freely, and surely, surely, the aim is to move as many people back and forth along this busy stretch as possible, so why are FGW clamping down on this in such a heavy-handed way? Those of you who work for FGW and visit the blog, please let me know, as this is one of the things that really annoys people. If commuters are prepared to pack themselves in like sardines in order to get to work on time, at least you should let them. Even better, let some of the poor buggers sit down in First Class if they've paid full price for a return ticket, considering how much they cost. Surely, surely, empty seats in First Class and people packed like sardines into standard class is not the way forward? Somebody say something sensible on this please.


Anonymous said...

It was bleeding silly this morning - really annoying and as you say - for what? Just to annoy 90% of the train (and this was at 6.59am).

Although to be fair, as soon as the train left the station there was a mad rush to the front and the vestibules were packed by the time we went past Twyford.

Ridiculous though, and I've already complained.

Insider said...

Ah, the old chestnut. It's actually really simple and really stupid. The answer is that the First Class passengers bitch and moan if the riff-raff (or hoi-palloi as one First Class passenger called them once in a letter to me) are allowed near their sainted presence.

As a result of this, the inspectors have been given instructions to not let people with no First Class ticket in the First Class area, vestibules and all.

There you have it.

Anonymous said...

Oh i know all that mr insider sir (good to see you back again...) but where does it say we're not allowed to stand on any part of the platform (not the train...), especially when the tannoy says 'use all doors to board'.

Course, once we're on the train we should theoretically pass through to standard, but you know how it is.

Anonymous said...

I find it common enough on the evening trains (I don't do mornings) to have anything up to 50+ empty seats in A & B, and still have to eject standard class ticket holders out of 1st who claim "There are no seats" when what they really mean is "I'm to bloody lazy to walk along the platform, and I want to be near the exit at Reading". (The first thing I do on leaving London is to do a full head-count, and announce where the empty seats are - very few move!)

If you want to travel in 1st class, buy a 1st class ticket. If you don't want to buy a 1st class ticket, then either accept the level of service you have paid for, and that includes making the decision to either get on a crowded train wait for the next one, or make a seat reservation, in which case you will be entitled to a seat on that particular train.

Sabre-Toothed Squirrel said...

Giving out penalty fares for standing at the first class end of the train. What a joke! What if you were going to upgrade when you boarded, or were after the buffet car, or were not even waiting for that train but the next one (which was standard at that end) would they get rid of you then.

Ha would have been a laugh if they had got it wrong and FC was at the other end (like they once did at Derby with an EMT train).

Instead of mucking about with fare paying passengers, why don't they do their actual job (revenue protection) and look for actual faredodgers. Let the onboard crew worry about first goers, thats what their there for.

Anonymous said...

So what does a fare dodger look like? do you know what a pick pocket looks like? maybe they are similar or maybe they look like a homeless person or juvenile?

You must know if you can comment on the Revenue Protection guys job, maybe they should have a training session with your inteligence?

Anonymous said...

Hehehe... ive just applied for a job with First Great Western . eeekk ! When i noticed this link , well i had a giggle , now im worried ! as said job is on board . I hope not to be dealing with moaning every day . I m kind of hopeing for a laugh and a joke with customers while providing an excellent service. Fare Dogers! Hadnt even considered them... Don t think they need look like homeless people . Where would a homeless person be traveling too ? Work ? unlikely , Home? Nope ! Well dodgers could be anyone i guess . Maybe what they do is more important than what they look like . Walking up and down a lot to avoid ticket seller / checker , or spending more time than is normal in the tiolet . But very unlikely sat in a seat at all ! let alone ya first class seats. They may be homeless , but they not that stupid . lmao .

Insider said...

You're quite correct that there is no rule that says you can't stand at the first class end of the platform with a standard ticket.

If I had to venture a guess, it would be that the staff want everyone to board where they are going to be sitting (or standing as the case may be) because that means that they can get the train off quicker rather than a load of standard passengers boarding at the first class end and leaving the standard carriage doors underused.

I suspect that it's just a threat and that no-one will actually get a penalty fare but don't quote me.

Sabre-Toothed Squirrel said...

"So what does a fare dodger look like?"

Prefebly someone WITHOUT A TICKET! Quite easy to spot, when you use ticket barriers, since they aint gonna be able to get past them. Simple!

Anonymous said...

I am afraid insider you are talking rubbish. I do not expect passengers to know the full ins and outs of the system but if you are claiming to have insider knowledge you should know better.

Basically as has been discussed ad naseum a ticket does not give you a seat. It gives you the rights to travel. It follows therefore that first class includes the vestibules and gangways. (where you can stand) It is all first class.

So yes you could in theory get a penalty fare for standing there. I would suggest however the only time this would happen is if someone is asked to move down to a seat in standard and refused to do so.

I did charge some one first class for standing many years ago. He was standing up but had boarded without a ticket and would not move. So I told him he was travelling in 1st and charged accordingly

Tom said...

Perhaps if you where reasonable and treated the train staff with respect, they would allow you to sit/stand/whatver in First Class.

But i shouold imaginem being the bunch of jumped-up jackasses you are, you just gob off and get on your high horse, and so the staff think 'f**k you', and let you cram yourself in like sardines.

Also, maybe you should start looking at some of your fellow passengers, who think their Bag/Rucksack/Briefcase needs its own seat...or refuse to move down or spread around the carriage, but instead insist of standing around like total lemmings.

I commute into work on the train almost every day, sometimes with a bike. I had to physically command people to move down the train on a DMU i was on last week, to allow passengers from my station (and my bike) to gain access onto the train.

Total morons.

Good pie....


Insider said...

I'm afraid anonymous that if I am talking rubbish then so are you, because I can't find a single point on which we disagree. Possibly you misread the first paragraph of my last comment when I was referring to platforms and not trains.

I hate FGW said...

Oh Tom, you are in a tizzy.
I agree with you entirely that we should all be polite to the staff, and not push and shove and generally behave rudely, you're absolutely right.
I like to think I don't behave like a jackass, but that's where the train manager has the power, because he can invite nice people to come and sit in first class if he wishes to, and leave the jackasses squashed in the back. How's that for a solution?

Richard, FGW said...

Hi all - the way I see it is that if it weren't for the oiks buying first class tickets, we'd be paying more for standard class, so let them have their exclusivity...why should you expect to be able to stand in 1st if you've not paid for the ticket??

The stuff on the platform though is daft, and I know that once the station manager found out what revenue protection were doinghe gave them a nice bollocking and sent them on their way...fair play to the guy!

Akania said...

I'm Spanish, I live in Madrid, and recently moved to the UK, don't get mad but your train system is sh**e. I went to visit my boyfriend in Cornwall, and went from Bristol to Cornwall. Ugh. (On First Great Western by the way). I've travelled in London. Ugh. Chessus.

I just think Britain should invest more in public transport in general. For a country that prates on so about carbon credits, you would think they would invest tons in public transport especially trains. I imagine in say India trains are worse but not a fair comparison. I guess that's what happens when private companies control the country.

In Spain, they barely talk about carbon credits and such things, but we recycle more and have a better transport which does much much more than just talking about it. I'm quite surprised that the collection system in Bristol can't recyle Tetrabrik containers or plastic bottles. They never pick those up anyway. I have to throw them away in the regular garbage and it tears up my heart.

I only got my driver's license last year when I was 26 and only because the driving school was having a special offer and I decided might as well. (Driving classes and learning to drive are expensive anyway in Spain)

And someone said if it wasn't for the oiks paying for first class, tickets would be more expensive. Why do you accept such expensive travel in the first place? Why is there first class on such a short leg anyway? Just make the whole train standard and end of story. Put first class just for long trips or say trips of more than an hour or so, long distance travel.
It really makes no sense to me. Cheaper public transport -> encourage public to stop using cars so much and do way more about the carbon credits.

I'm sorry that I might be coming down hard on the British transport, but just pointing out some stuff. I like everything else so far, apart from the weather.

Anonymous said...

Well Akania, I have been to Madrid and I have travelled to many parts of spain on the train and my experiences are different to how you portray it. First of all there is the matter of buying the ticket, reservations are compulsory so be prepared to wait.....and wait....and wait. To get a ticket to Barcelona from Madrid took 40 minutes of waiting plus the time to purchase it. Then there was the charge, I think it was 8 euros each way just for the reservation plus the ticket cost. Could you imagine if everyone in London had to wait so long for a compulsary reservation! They would still be queuing the next morning. I met some Irish girls in Barcelona and they had to wait one hour for a reservation! Then the train tootled along at 90km/hr and we were still 30 minutes late. On the return journey I took the sleeper, we were so crammed in, 6 to a tiny berth, that I thought we were going to suffocate. On top of this there was 1 toilet to every coach and a permanently long queue. Also I never met a member of staff who wasn't behaving surley and rude. My Spanish is not the best but I make an effort only to be brushed off at the information desk (that advertises that english is spoken).

It is true that the AVE train is good, (owned by private companies), and we could have this if we were getting six billion euros from the EU to buy new trains and install new dedicated track. Instead we give 6 billion euros so that spain and other countries can upgrade their transport system.
It is true that while there are many problems on the British system, you should remember that the spanish system is not perfect despite all the money that you recieve from us, so please remember this when rubbishing our system.

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Anonymous said...

It has been said that first class are subsidising the standard passengers on this blog, but when you think about in terms of revenue per meter squared the standard class carriages surely have a far greater income from the amount of standard class tickets bought for that over crowded carriage compared to a few first class tickets bought for the first class carriage. Is it not possible that all the standard class tickets are subsidising the first class carriage which last night on the 6.06 from paddington was practically empty.

Anonymous said...

I was informed that my standard class ticket didn't entitle me to stand in the vestibule in first class today. Most ridiculous thing I have ever heard - there was absolutely nowhere to stand never mind sit in standard class so there was no hope of doing that. I pay £400 per month so I'm certainly not subsidising anyone. I don't even get a seat when I get to the train well before it leaves since the one time only travellers who get cheap seats in advance reserve all the seats. For £4.5k a year I'd like to be treated as a valued customer - or at least a person rather than cattle with a credit card!!!!!!

I tried (politely) complaining to FGW but didn't even get an acknowledgement never mind a reply! I guess they take the commuters paying the exorbitant fares for granted.

Anonymous said...


I am relatively new to fwg trains and I am visiting this website today i.e. June 2011 and I see the problems are stillthe same in fact may be worse of.
I have not seen this pathetic service anywhere else.

I take train daily from Maidenhead to Paddington and there are infinite problems with fgw.

First the peak time trains are always overcrowded and we have to pay high prices to get into these trains.
And in last 3 months I have notes that 6 out of 10 times there are signalling problems. But I am not sure if I can complain and if that will help.


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