OK. I have already been asked a couple of questions in my blog. Thanks for your interest guys.
Firstly, to answer Graham, who commented in my post on the DfT about the issue of trains from Westbury to Swindon on Sundays only proceeding in a northbound direction. The base Service Level Commitment set by the DfT requires First Great Western to run 2 services in a northbound direction only. This was based on analysis of passenger journeys and customer flows at the time. The DfT was not willing to commit to the investment that an additional southbound service would require.
However, good news is that following our own analysis of passenger bahaviour, we will be operating a southbound service from December 2007. The added bonus to us of doing this is that we are able to run an additional passenger service on a unit that would otherwise run empty on its way to its next journey.
Now to Lee's questions. The questions on Severn Beach, being quite complicated, will require some more time to gather answers for and I apologise for that. However, I can answer some of your other points.
Firstly, regarding Melksham trains. I can't give you an exact timetable of the December 2007 Melksham trains at this stage, but I am told that the service will be roughly the same, unless any last minute amendments are made.
Various proposals were made to extend the Melksham service and restore the off peak trains. The most likey seemed to be an hourly off peak service. However, all the alternatives would have required external financial support. As we could not procure this, we are forced to continue running services in line with the Service Level Commitment. In addition to this, any enhanced service would rely on us getting extra rolling stock, which is not the easiest thing to do at the moment.
Regarding bidding for the December trains paths. We were required to submit our bids by 18 January 2007. We can bid to add or amend services after this date but we would receive a lesser priority that other operator's services.
On the subject of rolling stock. First Great Western do not own any stock outright. The parent company First Group bought power cars and trailers from Porterbrook some time ago and FGW lease them from First. If FGW lost the franchise, First Group would still own the stock with the option to lease it to a successor.
We have done no specific 2 for 1 deals and we would not be able to do so over any great length of time. Occasionally if a Rolling Stock Company has taken some stock back and wishes to keep it from collecting dust, we will do a short-term deal for a couple of months or so and we would run and service the stock for that period at a reduced cost. The fact that some of these deals may have been half price is purely incidental and non-specific. We would not be lucky enough to get those kind of terms in a long-term deal.
Hope this helps guys.