Monday, April 02, 2007
Fun With First Great Western
Given the almost daily torment of travelling with FGW, you might think I'd avoid them at all cost during my down time at the weekend.
You're generally right, but if you want to get from Bath to London to visit your fiance's brother, who's back in the country for a few days, then you don't have a lot of choice.
Due to planned weekend engineering works, the usual 1 hour 30 minute journey is now over two hours, and there is only a train every hour. This is supposedly "off-peak" travel, but lunchtime on a Sunday is very much "on-peak", and we were very lucky to get a seat. There were a great number of people standing (or sitting on the floor) all the way from Bath to London. I'd imagine First class was empty though, so anyone who's company was buying their ticket for them could have sat down no problem.
On the way home we arrived at Paddington ten minutes before our train home, but decided against rushing to buy drink and a bite to eat, and instead would jump on the train and guarantee ourselves some seats. We'll get something from the buffet car, we thought.
Wrong. Despite the scrolling electronic sign reading "A Buffet car serving snacks and hot and cold drinks is available on this service" on the concourse and the platform, the buffet car remained shut for the whole journey.
An announcement, was made by the train manager, but only as the train pulled out of the station. He then - obviously already stressed by a number of passengers asking the dame questions - got the raging arse with me when I asked him why it was shut, and more importantly why the signs had said it was open. He said that due to the new timetable (eh? what's that got to do with catering?) there was no catering past 21:00 at the weekends.
As to the signs saying there was catering? The train manager said, "We've asked for those notices not to be up, and instead a sign saying no catering on this train, but every time we ask, no-one listens to us."
I know how he feels. If FGW management wont even listen to it's front line staff, it's no wonder they don't listen to their customers.