Monday, March 26, 2007

More FGW Incompetence

I was an hour late for work this morning. And no, it wasn't because I forgot to put my clocks forward.

This morning someone decided to throw a brick at my train sometime on it's journey between London and Bath.

At this point I'd like to point out that I in no way condone random acts of vandalism, but this was no random act. I feel it's unlikely that this attack was carried out for kicks by hooded "yoofs", since it occurred before 6.30 am, and I'd imagine they're all asleep. No, this attack was deliberately targeted. Some commuter venting their anger? Maybe, and if so, understandable, but not excusable.

Upon pulling into Bristol, the train manager announced that we would be delayed briefly while fitters would be attempting to patch up the broken window before we continued our journey to South Wales. 20 minutes later and an announcement is made that since both panes of glass had been broken it was a health and safety risk to continue, in case it "imploded"! So we have to all get off the 8-car high speed train, and wait 25 minutes for the next 2-car "trolley-bus"-style train to Cardiff.

It's not directly FGW's fault that someone had vandalised the train, so FGW have done nothing wrong so far, right? Wrong. Here's where the brain cells should have kicked in:

1. Why weren't the fitters told before we got to Bristol that both panes were broken. Someone could have just looked. It's not rocket science. Though, upon gettinig to Bristol, it still took 20 minutes to work out that both panes were broken... maybe it is rocket science.

2. If the train was unsafe, why was it allowed to continue from the attack site to Bristol, surely everyone should have been off-loaded at the next safe place? If it was safe to get to Bristol - why couldn't it continue to it's destination?

3. And this was the thing that really got me angry. Why did it take 20 minutes to tell us? Was it deliberate that we were told to get off just one minute after another train to Cardiff left Bristol? Was it to avoid overcrowding on that train? If so, it didn't work. It just delayed the overcrowding to the next train.

Was it done to antagonise as many passengers as possible? Because if so, it worked.

My guess is that it was plain stupidity on the part of the train manager who, as usual, wasn't thinking about the needs of the passengers. And I told him what I thought.

I tell you, if I'd have had something to throw....

2 comments:

I hate FGW said...

Hello Billyo
My favourite thing about First Great Western is that if you look at the news section on their website, they happily chirp away about winning awards for their website design, extending their penalty fare scheme across the network, and other great achievements. Do they ever mention delays? No. Any apologies there for the harrassed commuter? Nope. Any mention at all of the fact that they are, as an organisation, complete and utter evil moneymaking maniacs who never spend a passing moment thinking about the comfort and care of their passengers? Non. Why do we let them get away with it?
You'll be glad to know the badges are on order. Look out for one on a delayed passenger near you soon.
Soldier on!

Billyo said...

They do mention delays.... But they are called "Live Updates". And they don't stay up for long.

One of the worrying things is the frequency with which they now turn trains around early in their journey so that the next train is on time. Great if you're on the next train. Terrible if you need to get to the train's ultimate destination.

But what is really bad is when trains run fast to their destination and skip out stations. This is worse because the customers are not considered and the train counts as being "on time" because official statistics count trains reaching their final destinations on time.

This way of measuring train reliability has meant FGW (or the DfT, whoever you want to blame) has led to massive Padding in the timetable. One morning train has a timetabled 17 minutes wait at Bristol before heading to Cardiff, and I'm told London to Bristol takes 20 minutes longer than it did 5 years ago, despite the trains travelling at the same speed.

Eeek - I've just written a lot.

Rant over.