Friday, 5 January 2007

Better train services - but not yet!

An interesting meeting this afternoon with a manager for First Great Western. The company took over the local train services around Bristol in December and it's been a shambles so far. Trains have been cancelled with no notice or turn up with too few carriages leaving people standing in the loos in some cases! I've been told this afternoon that these teething problems should be over in a week - so we'll see if the volume of complaints drops off.

On a more positive note, there are plans to improve the major local station - Bristol Parkway - with two additional platforms (I'd only heard about one before), and in the very long-term the frequency of the service from Yate could improve by allowing trains to turn back at Yate. In the shorter term First Great Western are buying new engines which are quieter and greener, which is good news, and are also going to upgrade the insides of the trains with things like power sockets - which will be very welcome. So, we may be "on track" for better services, but they won't be cheap, and patience will still be required...


Duncan Hames said...

Hi Steve - I'm looking forward to following your blog - good luck.

The situation with the new train franchise is beyond a joke. I'm finding it hard to tell whether FGW are deliberately running down some services (eg. Par-Newquay, Swindon-Melksham-Westbury, Servern Tunnel Junction), or simply don't know how to run anything other than an Intercity railway.
Why are some of their rolling stock being moth-balled in railway yards, at the same time as services are cancelled owing to lack of rolling stock? Perhaps you could have a word with Alistair Carmichael MP to see what could be done in Parliament to challenge the Department for Transport over this mess?

Best wishes, Duncan

DanZaMan said...

I have had to move out of Yate due to the poor transport situation in the area. The First Group have a monopoly on the local transport between Bristol Centre and Yate, surely this should be illegal? The monopolistic situation can only add to their apathy in improving services.

FGW need to tailor services to local situations, this is a commuter route and as such I would not of minded standing on a train that has standing space (similar to the modern central trains), however FGW run trains designed for seated passengers, I fear this situation may be due to their inexperience with running localised services.

As for their excuses over the condition of their rolling stock it is their fault, bad management surely resulted in the contract with their maintenance depot not being policed properly.

FGW investment in trains is not going to affect us locally unless they invest in our routes; investment in long distance services is no good for us.

g4mby said...

"danzaman", if I could move out of Yate I would too. First made my bus journey from the North Yate so difficult over the years with the withdrawal of the X69 and X29 limited stop services leading to much incresed journey times. I turned to the train for shorter journey times and cheaper travel.

Rail passenger numbers have definitely increased since I started commuting nearly two years ago and the trains were then starting to get overcrowded especially when there were stock shortages or unit failures. When First took over from Wessex in April 2006 there was actually an improvement in reliability and punctuality. It is only since the December timetable change that we have really had an insight into what we will be getting for years to come unless action is taken by the DfT or FGW are allowed to increase the amount of stock leased to strengthen existing trains or add new services.

A trawl of various websites, some run by enthusiasts, shows that we are not being told half on what is really going on but a few brave FGW staff are posting anonymously and telling the real story.