Friday, 10 August 2007

TFI Friday

So tired. Horrible day today. Normally I do like to go through all the new comments and answer them but right now I'm just not in the mood.

As I'm sure many of you know, there was a signal failure at West Drayton today. Not a particularly interesting one again. Of more interest was the signal problem in South Wales around Bridgend. It didn't interest me at first, but on a whim I decided to go into the TRUST system and have a squint at some of the trains that were being delayed as the length of the delays to trains coming out of Wales was becoming a concern.

My interest was peaked when I saw the following: XR CABLE CUT next to the delays. XR is a delay attribution code and stands for 'External Reason'. Oh yes, it was vandalism. Someone had taken the time and trouble to come and fuck up the signals (pardon the venacular) for jollies.

That so rags me off. Can't people find anything better to do???

I will take this time to answer Lee regarding turbos. There may be some pacers heading our way but nothing is confirmed as of yet. With regards to the turbos, we get to keep all the 165s and 166s from the Reading fleet but we are losing approximately 9 complete 158 sets from the ex-Wessex fleet. Supposedly, we will be getting somehting to replace them (maybe from those 1300 carriages the DfT has ordered) but again, nothing is confirmed. Not much help I know but it's all abit up in the air at the moment.

That's all for now. Back soon.


Anonymous said...

Tired too after a Sat night trying to get back through Reading! I know this isn't a complaints site, but just had to get this off my chest -

NationalRail website and phone service both lied about there being trains and not bus replacement, the phone call being particularly bad as I specifically asked about it being a bus and was told definately a train. FGW site had the same info, but presuambly using underlying NR data? This is completely unacceptable.

But I am even more upset with FGW staff at Paddington who suggested it would be quicker getting the stopper train instead of the bus replacement 10mins later. And on double checking about our connection that it would definitely get there before the bus. He lied, not only did it crawl into Reading late, it turns out it's scheduled time would never have connected anyway, so he was just making it up for unknown reasons. Grrr. At least the Reading duty manager was reasonably helpful and we did get home eventually.

The core issue of both these complaints is - "accurate information" or rather the lack of it.

Lee Fletcher said...

Thanks for the rolling stock info.

Insider said...

That actually leads me nicely into the post I'm meaning to do on information when there are delays but that has been delayed a bit due to what I plan to post today. I am sorry to hear about your crappy journey and I will do my best to answer your points when the time comes.

Ollie said...

The bus was scheduled to take 1hr 10mins.
Stopping services scheduled to take ~1hr 20mins
I'm aware there were problems once it got to Maidenhead due to single line being in operation.
Can't answer on the NR side of things, however FGW Website has section for timetable alterations and information about buses is shown on there.
In regard to staff just sending you on a stopper it was bad judgement for them to assume stopper would be quicker. (stopper normally quicker than 1hr and 10mins, but longer due to single line working)
I would suggest you write in and complain, as communication and information is something that really needs sorting.

Anonymous said...

I'd make the following observations on quality of information at Paddington;

1) Sometimes I get the impression that customers are told whatever will get them to leave the station. When there is major disruption it is usual to be told to travel to Waterloo and then Reading with SWT. At least three times when this has happened, I have ignored the advice and been rewarded 5 minutes later with an announcement of a departure of an HST from Paddington to Reading. I suspect that being told to get onto a stopper to Reading falls into the same category. If you are on the way to Reading you one less person to be dealt with at Paddington.

2) The staff at the information desks under the departure boards are useless. The staff in the FGW customer reception booth are much better (it would be interesting to know if anyone else has deserned a difference or if Insider knows if they are of different grades).

My main critism of the staff at the departure board desks is that they do not look beyond the end of their own shift and that they don't reaslly understand or care about the passengers. Twice, I have decided to go out for a few drinks after work in London to avoid the rush hour home to Bath. After being stuck on one too many replacement buses from Swindon, I planned to get the last train home to Bath that ran as a train. On arrival at Paddington in the morning, I politly ask if there is any engineering work that eveneing to be told no by the departure board wallies. I then arrive at Paddington later in the evening to find that my train turns into a bus at Swindon because of PLANNED engineering work that the departure board wallies didn't tell me out about.

On 31 July I arrived back in the country from a holiday abroad. I knew that there had been some serious flooding and that this had caused the railway problems over the previous week. As part of my journey home I arrived at Paddington very early for the 18:30 to Bath on which I had an advance purchase ticket. I knew that some trains were being cancelled and had decided that if the 18:30 was going to be one of them I would get an earlier train to Bath. I asked at the departure board desks and was told that they didn't know, it might be cancelled, that their shift would end before 18:30 and that I should check the departure boards. I asked at the "customer reception" desk and a very pleasant older lady with specs on a chain said "let me see, the 18:30 has been cancelled earlier in the week but it ran yeaterday". She then produced a computer print out with a list of the day's planned cancellations and told we that the 18:30 was not one of them. She was right and I got home at a reasonable time. I returned to the departure board desk and told the bloke I had spoken to earlier that the lady at customer reception had a list of the evening's cancellations and that perhaps he ought to ask her if he could have a copy of it. He was not in the slightest bit interested and made it clear that he resented by trying to tell him how to do his job.

My advice, is don't trust anything you are told under the departure boards - speak to someone at the customer reception booth or try to figure it out yourself.


JP said...

I too was caught up in the engineering works home from London on Saturday, and have penned a letter as a result. I've written too often to FGW and they are probably getting fed up with me, but there were some points which really needed to be made.

Like others I was not happy with the lack of information, most of which probably was NR's fault rather than FGW. I had hoped to get either the 22.30 (eta 00:06) or 23.30 (eta 01:06) train home. I had the opportunity to check the online NR Departures during the evening and was surprised that things had changed. I aimed for the advertised 23.00 departure (eta 01:06, still) and found at 22.50 that it was non existent. Grrr.

To echo the anonymous comment I am also very upset with the FGW staff who directed me on to the stopper. I can accept that they might not have been supplied with all the information from NR or whoever but they should have known that the stopper would take 1hr 20 and not 47 minutes as they told me. They were at least polite, and friendly in the wake of some justifiably irate passengers, but I was disappointed with the lack of effort to find out information.

And then there was the train to Reading itself. A three car Turbo for 1hr 20 as a replacement for several trains which otherwise would have been running?! There were people standing end to end most of the way, and FGW have no excuse for that. Furthermore, the journey highlighted just how woefully inadequate the Turbos are. Even at 6'2" it's not an unreasonable expectation to fit properly behind the seat in front, and the seats are two narrow to accommodate two average adults side by side. Sleeping, as I had planned to, was an impossibility, and it probably did my back no favours either. Now, even if 1hr 20 on a Turbo is abnormal (though looking at the trains to Bedwyn, perhaps it isn't), the seats really should be a lot better. The money spent on making the outside look shiny would have been much better spent inside. Also, I know that there is a lack of seats on some routes, but seats which do not accommodate people properly are not a solution.

Rant over. An insider's PoV on some of the issues raised here would make for good reading.

Anonymous said...

Aha, we were aiming for 23:00 too (to make sure we had more chance) but due to tube problems arrived at about that time. I assumed it might have been taken off the boards just prior to departure.

Yes it was like a cattle truck. Lucky to get seats and have OKish other passengers (including some entertaining stuff) but shouldn't have been on it in the first place :(

The point about the staff under the information boards vs the staff in the booths is interesting. I will try to investigate further next time. Are the information booths the same as the ticket booths or separate?

I should put in a complaint letter I know.

Anonymous said...

> FGW Website has section for timetable alterations

Oh - I only ever saw a mention of bus replacements and "number and timings may be different" or something similar. I didn't find anything to suggest any details on when the bus services might run.

Ollie said...

Yes it advises to check journey planners before travelling, and afaik these were updated.
I know they are for this weekend coming, as once again this weekend will be similar situation.

I will try get hold of a replacement timetable tomorrow and stick it on the blog.