FCC Thameslink... Getting to the point of Enough is Enough

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Mutant Lemming, 24 Nov 2011.

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  1. Mutant Lemming

    Mutant Lemming Established Member

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    Someone mentioned the Reginald Perrin excuses in another thread - at least some of those were amusing. Signal Failure at West Hampstead, Signal Failure at City Thameslink, Signal Failure at Kentish Town is all getting a bit too repetitive. This week I have driven to and from work every day. I have not been late, I have not had to stand up for the journey, I have not had to hang around draughty stations for trains which are on the board but then suddenly disappear in to the ether. When it runs well I like using the train but those occasions seem to be increasingly rare and I find myself driving to work at least a couple of days a week and recently every day. My season ticket is due for renewal next month and I can't see any improvements forthcoming to warrant me bothering this time round. Maybe it's FCC's answer to their overcrowding problems - make it so unbearable that half of us take to the roads.
     
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  3. Schnellzug

    Schnellzug Established Member

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    Are any of those things, though, FCC's fault? perhaps ire should be directed at the apparently poorly planned Improvements that Not Work Rail seem to be making a proper meal of.
     
  4. gordonthemoron

    gordonthemoron Established Member

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    I would think that driving whilst standing would be rather dangerous ;)
     
  5. Mutant Lemming

    Mutant Lemming Established Member

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    Not if I am in charge of the Deadwood Stage
     
  6. Class377/5

    Class377/5 Established Member

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    I bet you blame your car if the road closed as well.
     
  7. Mutant Lemming

    Mutant Lemming Established Member

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    No, they probably aren't though the way they deal with the aftermath has never inspired confidence. I did mention once before that it sometimes feels like that epsiode of Father Ted and the Eurovision Song Contest - why, you'd think with that effort we are deliberately trying to lose the damn thing.

    When is the franchise up for renewal ?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    no just find an alternative route - something our disjointed railway network no longer does.

    I understand all the 'problems' involved but now I am just an everyday commuter fed up with the unscheduled waste of my time down to one thing or another. People aren't bothered about the reasons they just want the thing to run the way it says it will.
    .
     
  8. Eagle

    Eagle Established Member

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    2015 at the moment.
     
  9. lookingforit35

    lookingforit35 Member

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    The non curry-consuming public will be hugely relieved to hear of your prinicipled stance. Take care not to spill korma sauce on your velour.
     
  10. Firestarter

    Firestarter Member

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    You've answered your own question so threads should be closed me-thinks
     
  11. talltim

    talltim Established Member

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    It might not be FCC's fault, but you're not buying the service from NR. It's up to FCC to put the pressure on their infrastructure supplier to come up with the goods.
    Mind you, I bet FCC get more from NR in delay repay than they give back to customers...
     
  12. EM2

    EM2 Established Member

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    Let's say I drove into work for a week.
    First day, traffic lights out at a major junction. Sat there for twenty minutes.
    Second day, accident blocked the road. I was on a dual carriageway, with no way of turning round or getting off at a junction. That was forty-five minutes.
    Third day, emergency roadworks mean three lanes cut down to one and everyone tryign to filter through. Thirty minutes in a jam.
    Fourth day, road was closed because a building was on fire and all the side roads were jammed solid. Another forty-five minutes delay.
    Fifth day, a lorry shed its load and there's timber all over the road. Diverted twenty minutes out of my way.

    All things that would be out of my control, just like points failures, signal failures etc. are outside FCC's control.
     
  13. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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  14. Old Timer

    Old Timer Established Member

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  15. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    Takes deep breath - commuter for over 20 years on the route. Well used to the rough and tumble.

    This week has had 3 peaks disrupted - generally down to "points failures" of a fairly critical nature. Previous week had 2 big incidents - melt down at City Thameslink due to post commissioning problems and a big incident with all 4 lines down at Hendon due to Roland the Rat going throught the cables.

    I can assure you that both NR and FCC have worked hard to learn the lessons and try and alleviate the massive impact on the travelling public. There is no "OK - delays - take the compensation from the TOC" - and NR dont set out to glibly shrug their shoulders.Staff involved take this very seriousely and really do their best.

    As said before , you can have months of OK service (yes - I know its crowded etc) - and post major incidents , FCC in particular graft to get the service balanced for the next day - which involves mega work overnight or behind the scenes to cover the problems. Much like NR staff and managers work long hours to restore service.

    My wife took 3 hours to get to a hospital job at Watford from St Albans the other day - fog and a shunt on the M1 access road. Not so rosy elsewhere either.

    Stick with the train - the railway staff of all grades and employers really do try.....
     
  16. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Hear hear.
     
  17. 12CSVT

    12CSVT Established Member

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    The majority of delays on Monday morning were down to a northbound train being held at Blackfriars for over half an hour during the morning peak with a seriously ill passenger waiting for an ambulance.
     
  18. ajax103

    ajax103 Established Member

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    Wrong, it's actually been brought forward to September 2013 as advertised in various news outlets such as this statement from First Group:

    Friday 05 August, 2011


    FirstGroup PLC

    Statement re: Rail Franchises

    5 August 2011 FIRSTGROUP PLC STATEMENT RE: FIRST TRANSPENNINE EXPRESS AND FIRST CAPITAL CONNECT RAIL FRANCHISES FirstGroup plc, the leading transport operator in the UK and North America, welcomed today's announcement on rail refranchising by the Department for Transport (DfT).

    The First TransPennine Express franchise will be extended for over three years to 1 April 2015, which will allow greater flexibility in the refranchising of the future TransPennine Express and Northern franchises.

    The Thameslink/Great Northern franchise, operated by First Capital Connect, will be refranchised in 2012/13 with a replacement franchise to commence from 15 September 2013.

    This will help to facilitate the continued project delivery of the Thameslink Programme, in particular the introduction of new rolling stock, which will be completed after the expiry date of the existing franchise.

    Commenting, Tim O'Toole, Group Chief Executive, said: "We are delighted that the DfT has taken the decision to extend the First TransPennine Express franchise to 1 April 2015.

    Since we started operating the franchise in 2004 we have delivered a number of improvements including the introduction of a £260m new train fleet and passenger numbers have grown from 13m to 24m per annum.

    We will continue to work closely with the DfT and our stakeholders in the region to develop plans for the future of rail in the north of England and to further develop the Anglo-Scottish services.

    "At First Capital Connect we have worked closely with the DfT and Network Rail to deliver the initial phase of the Thameslink Programme successfully.

    This is a major investment that is already bringing benefits to passengers and will transform a key part of London's transport network.

    Our unrivalled knowledge and experience of managing this key project gives us a strong foundation to continue to help deliver this programme in the future franchise."

    Contacts FirstGroup:

    Jeff Carr, Group Finance Director
    Rachael Borthwick, Group Corporate Communications Director

    Notes to editors:

    1. FirstGroup is the UK's largest rail operator carrying over 290 million passengers a year.

    2. The Group's passenger rail franchises consist of First Capital Connect, First Great Western, First ScotRail and First TransPennine Express and one open access operator First Hull Trains.

    3. The Group has pre-qualified for the InterCity West Coast franchise.

    4. The TransPennine Express franchise is operated by a joint venture between FirstGroup and Keolis.

    5. The TransPennine Express franchise officially commenced on 1 February 2004. The initial franchise was awarded for eight years with a five year extension period.

    6. The First TransPennine Express franchise has been extended to 1 April 2015, with an option for the DfT to roll back to terminate the franchise up to 12 months earlier on 1 April 2014.

    7. The Thameslink/GN franchise, which combined the current Thameslink and Great Northern franchises, officially commenced on 1 April 2006 as First Capital Connect. In March 2010 the franchise was automatically continued for two years as service performance targets were met. Subject to the DfT's agreement, the franchise could then continue for up to three further years i.e. to March 2015. This flexibility was necessary to facilitate works on the Thameslink Programme.

    8. The Thameslink Programme will make travelling across London and the south east easier and quicker. It will reduce crowding on some of the busiest sections of London's transport network and introduce a new generation of electric commuter trains, carrying up to 1750 passengers.

    9. The first stage of the Thameslink Programme is already under construction. Building work is already well underway at Farringdon and Blackfriars stations, and platform extension work has been completed at many locations including Luton Airport Parkway and St Albans. This first stage will enable some longer 12 carriage trains to operate on the Bedford to Brighton route from December 2011.

    10. The second stage involves the reconstruction of London Bridge station and its approaches and a new connection to the East Coast Main Line just to the north of St Pancras. This stage will deliver 24 trains per hour in both directions through the central London core section, as well as longer 12 carriage operation to a range of destinations to the north and south of London from December 2018.

    11. The new trains required for the Programme will require around 1,200 new carriages. 12. The capital cost for the new infrastructure and the new rolling stock is estimated to cost around £6 billion.

    http://www.investegate.co.uk/article.aspx?id=20110805070100P78E8

    Seeing as the new franchise to succeed First Capital Connect takes over on the 15th September 2013, then it's not hard to see the last day of operation by FCC ought to be the 14th September 2013.
     
  19. GoByThameslink

    GoByThameslink Member

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    I'm with Bald Rick on this one - if only FCC could consistently crack the communications we'd all be able to plan around or avoid disruptions effectively.
     
  20. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    Like you, I've been commuting into central London for many years albeit on a different route and I understand that running an intensive commuter service has its trials and tribulations. However when there is a delay the vast majority of commuters couldn't give a monkeys who caused the delay and why; all they care is that they are late for work / meetings / interviews / appointments and the repercussions could be severe.

    I've no doubt what so ever that railway staff do their very best to maintain a good service but that is no comfort to passengers who are late for work! However, I do realise (and perhaps the OP should too) that NR currently face a very difficult task of completely rebuilding a very busy line while it’s still in use because London cannot afford for it to be closed. I remember similar problems with the WCML but the wait was worth it!
     
  21. Class377/5

    Class377/5 Established Member

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    Don't you think FCC is fed up with the infrastructure problems too?

    Very true with this. There a lot of new stuff and info system that have recently been brought in to provide better information. It's beded in now and starting to help the control staff communicate better.

    Trust me, there a lot of effort going into the information. There are reasons why things happen the way they do put people are working hard behind the scene to make it better.

    One point I'd like to put forward is the fact all this people don't realise is a couple of months ago FCC PPM was up there with c2c and London Overground. The last four weeks have been bad and pretty all of it is outside FCC area of control.

    I think the train companies need to tell the public they buy the right to run trains and they aren't getting what they paid for when the infrastructure goes tits up. Might help people realise its not only the passengers who arent getting what they paid for.
     
  22. moggie

    moggie Member

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    And some insist that altering West Coast again is preferable to HS2:rolleyes:

    Must admit NR seem to be having an extraordinary run of 'bad luck'........ or is ther emore to it?
     
  23. Bedpan

    Bedpan Member

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    The biggest issue as far as I am concerned is their deceit in imposing the off peak restrictions. Only recently have I found out (from this site) that my off peak return from many other destinations (Esher included) IS valid to use in the evening peak despite the contention in the various timetables over the years that I cannot join an FCC train leaving St Pancras between 16.30 and 19.01.

    Obviously I have sympathy with commuters who have to travel on overcrowded trains, and I wouldn't want to add to their woes, but to charge an extra £11.50 for a travelcard which allows a return journey in the evening peak, and the imposition of a 2 hour 31 minute evening peak both just take the biscuit, when splitting tickets at Elstree is a mere £3.50 surcharge for peak travel.

    I wish the Herts Advertiser had asked the spin doctors they spoke to if they had ever travelled on the 16.40 from St Pancras and realised that it was always far from full, or why they wrote their "not pemited to join a northbound train in zone B" etc when in fact you clearly can when travelling from a number of destinations outside London, etc, but they didn't. On the other hand, even if they had, I'm sure that a load of old claptrap would have been reported. (Remember that they said that they would review it when it was first introduced, despite no doubt being fully aware that the 319s would have to be used on Sevenoaks services after the closure of the terminal platforms at Blackfriars).

    I have to grit my teeth however and say that its a bit unfair to blame them for the recent chaos, and I have the highest regard for the majority of the of the staff working for them.

    And at least tthings haven't got any worse since Elaine Holt left.

    Nevertheless my fingers are firmly crossed that they lose their franchise - throughout my life I've always tried to encourage people to travel by train and done my bit to promote rail travel - until FCC took over the Thameslink franchise.
     
  24. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    What do you suggest?

    Perhaps they could use the Bedford-Bletchley line and not serve stations between Flitwick and Kentish Town, or leave those people with a bus replacement service that could not hope to convey enough people?

    Or perhaps they could get the trains to mount the platform at St Albans and roll down the road to St Albans Abbey station?

    Better still, they could do something similar at West Hampstead, although they would have to get there first.

    We live in a TNMP culture (That's not my problem!), telling them that is "just passing the buck":roll:
     
  25. Class377/5

    Class377/5 Established Member

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    Fair point. It's easy to do a blame game but it seems joe public seems to think that it's the TOC who causes the intrastructure. Prehaps explaining to them how the system is set up with help them understand that there is a limit to what they can do.

    The other point is the intrastructure isn't up to the job lately. If its a part of the TLP upgrade or general maintance the problems lately have been spilt between the two meaning different teams doing their own thing and not working together.
     
  26. LexyBoy

    LexyBoy Established Member Fares Advisor

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    But would you keep driving if things like this kept happening?

    Of course a lot of the problems are not due to FCC; but they are the passenger-facing side of "The Railway" and thus bound to get the blame. If they don't like it, they should give Network Rail a kicking to get them to sort it out. The TOCs are happy to take the credit for infrastructure improvements and new rolling stock, so it's not unreasonable for the blame for things going wrong to be directed at them.

    Few people give a stuff which company is responsible for choosing the colours to go on the trains and paying staff to drive them - they just want it to work. All the infrastructure stuff is "behind the scenes". To use everyone's favourite metaphor, if I couldn't buy any milk in Tesco because their fridge was broken, I'd complain at Tesco, not the company contracted to maintain their equipment.
     
  27. Mutant Lemming

    Mutant Lemming Established Member

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    ooh.... my own personal stalker - I am privileged.

    I am afraid that until you are in a position to annihilate the 99.998% of the planet's poulation that don't adhere to your exacting standards you are going to have to endure the great unwashed masses predilections.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Well anyone who uses the line knows that there are occasions when they could switch between using the fast and local but don't. Though I admit the alternative route thing is more of a general thing. If network rail were to become a National Rail Authority to oversee the bigger picture as opposed to appeasing the TOC who shouts loudest it may help.

    I know that the general moaning doesn't help but after FCC's debacle at handling the driver 'shortage' dispute and a lot of other irritations over the years the majority of the long suffering public can't be bothered deciphering what is their fault and what is down to other sources.

    I have decided over the next 4 weeks to be a bit more exacting on my approach and go in by rail next week, road the week after, rail the following week and road the week after and do a true comparison of times and cost. At least then I will be able to assess properly if my knee jerk reaction to the latest FCC catalogue of woe is justified or not.
     
    Last edited: 25 Nov 2011
  28. Class377/5

    Class377/5 Established Member

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    Your right, FCC has shot itself in the foot more than once before which is why there isn't always an acceptance that they say isn't the truth. That's said there has been a lot of changes internally since then so the company does have a different out look at events.

    It's easy to look at one side and say you should do this or that but without knowing the full story (which very few people know especially the paying commuters) you can't never fully understand why it was done that time.

    I just hope your jounery and my work are much better in the next few weeks.
     
  29. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    And anyone who pays the bills knows how much it costs to delay an EMT service!

    It is far simpler to get people moving on trains that only use the slow lines than to try to thread delayed fast services between EMT services.

    I assume the fasts still overtake the slows between Harpenden/Radlett and West Hampstead/Carlton Road? Not much hope of that being shortened without a re-think of the entire timetable.
     
  30. Class377/5

    Class377/5 Established Member

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    I'm not going to say anything like that another. Three different problems in the Core tonight.
     
  31. EM2

    EM2 Established Member

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    Yes, probably. Because I'm aware that we live in a far-from-perfect world, and that in any 'system' that has multiple interfaces, many things can go wrong.
    These things happen.
     
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