FGW delays at Cardiff Central on 1st August after Olympic football match

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F Great Eastern

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-19091014

Almost 20,000 people is pretty extreme.

BBC News said:
Rail chaos claim as Team GB match breaks passenger record

A record number of passengers using Cardiff's main railway station caused travel disruption after Team GB's men's football match, according to First Great Western (FGW).

A total of 19,500 used Cardiff Central after the game on Wednesday night, double the normal figure after an event at the Millennium Stadium, says FGW.

FGW said 9,000 of those passengers used its service.

Rail passengers complained of "utter chaos" and being "herded like cattle".

A spokesman for FGW said the game saw an "unprecedented number of passengers" travelling to Cardiff on its services.

"With twice as many customers travelling by public transport than for any other event held at the Millennium Stadium," he said.

'Patience'

"Many of those travelling to the match had not purchased tickets in advance, so the true number of passengers travelling could only be ascertained on the day of travel."

He said contingency plans were in place to deal with the "record number of passengers" and 14 extra trains between London, Bristol and Cardiff were provided.

"We fully accept that services were busy and we would like to thank customers queuing at Cardiff Central for their patience," he said.

"We are working with the managers of that station, Arriva Trains Wales, to improve the flow of traffic prior to the next Team GB's game." (more)
 
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CC 72100

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I travelled (unwittingly) towards Cardiff yesterday. Our HST was full, standing and everyone else told to wait for an additional 10 minutes behind on the way to Cardiff, although it wasn't too unbearable for the 40 minute or so journey. The TM did warn about the situation later on, and that queueing systems would be in operation.

FGW have recieved quite a bit of flack for it, and of course lessons can be learnt. However, if people really expected to be able to get away smoothly, breaze through Cardiff and get a table of 4 to themselves on the way back, then they must be pretty naive. Of course it was going to be busy and take a little while, but you've just got to grin and bear it and accept that if you are going to the same event as 80000 people things may take a bit longer and may be rather busy.

I can only speak for the pre-match arrangements, but I've got nothing of praise for FGW on that bit. At Bristol Parkway they kept us informed, had additional services etc. Not that the crowd helped themselves - "Please use the full length of the platform and stand back from the edge" was met with deaf ears as people congruagted around the stairwell exit whilst I stood at the (handily marked) A and B stopping point by myself.
 

Ze Random One

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The question that I have not heard answered is the key one:
Did everyone who needed to get home, get home?
If they did, then the railway did its job.
On average, CDF deals with 31,000 journeys a day. If around 19,500 arrived by train, then that means they dealt with 39,000 just for the match (not counting normal commuters).
 

brizzlechris

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FGW have recieved quite a bit of flack for it, and of course lessons can be learnt. However, if people really expected to be able to get away smoothly, breaze through Cardiff and get a table of 4 to themselves on the way back, then they must be pretty naive. Of course it was going to be busy and take a little while, but you've just got to grin and bear it and accept that if you are going to the same event as 80000 people things may take a bit longer and may be rather busy.
I don't think it was too unreasonable to be kept informed with announcements - even if only "thank you for your patience - we're working to get you home as soon as possible".

Instead there was absolute silence from those in charge, we neither heard nor saw a member of staff in my position in the queue for 90 minutes.

If you asked for any information from the crowd safety staff you were told that Arriva's staff in charge wouldn't provide any updates whatsoever.

Indeed, one of the crowd safety staff was startled when told we'd been queuing for approximately 2 hours before describing it as the worst situation he has seen at the station, shambolic and there being no plan.
 

TEW

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The question that I have not heard answered is the key one:
Did everyone who needed to get home, get home?
If they did, then the railway did its job.
On average, CDF deals with 31,000 journeys a day. If around 19,500 arrived by train, then that means they dealt with 39,000 just for the match (not counting normal commuters).

Lots of taxis provided at Bristol Temple Meads and special buses laid on at London Paddington, passengers weren't just dumped where the trains terminated. The problem seems to be the queuing arrangements at Cardiff and lack of communication there.
 

CC 72100

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I don't think it was too unreasonable to be kept informed with announcements - even if only "thank you for your patience - we're working to get you home as soon as possible".

Instead there was absolute silence from those in charge, we neither heard nor saw a member of staff in my position in the queue for 90 minutes.

If you asked for any information from the crowd safety staff you were told that Arriva's staff in charge wouldn't provide any updates whatsoever.

Indeed, one of the crowd safety staff was startled when told we'd been queuing for approximately 2 hours before describing it as the worst situation he has seen at the station, shambolic and there being no plan.

Indeed. Although it looks like the failings on this one lie with ATW, being management of the station. You're right - reassuring announcements would have been most appreciated, but my experience of the journey to Cardiff with FGW was that they were proactive in the whole thing, and it seems that the after-match peak highlighted some flaws in the station management plan, not that of the train company. From what I gather when everyone got on trains, things ran smoothly albeity (as to be expected) they were rather crowded, whilst the station management and queue controls were the bits which need serious adressing.

I understand people's frustrations over the whole thing, but the blame is being put on the wrong people. The train service - crowded but fine, the station queueing - chaos.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
ATW Senior Management were ordered to an urgent meeting yesterday to investigate this major & serious problem,



Bob

^ Sums up my post really, should have looked at this first! :idea:
 

The Ham

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Instead there was absolute silence from those in charge, we neither heard nor saw a member of staff in my position in the queue for 90 minutes.

Other than an anouncment to say we are working on getting you through, what else would expect. Once people are in the queuing system there is little that they will need (with the possible exception of requiring medical assistance) as they would be moving forward and making progress toward the front of the queue. As if they had people "patroling" the queues then that is less staff to assist in getting them into/out of the queue.

If they had anouncements every 10-15 minutes then people would complain about them (just look elsewhere on this forum on how people feel about excesive anouncements) and in reality would provide no benefit in informing people.
 

WelshBluebird

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Cardiff Central can get pretty bad anyway in my experience, and from what I am hearing (I wasn't there), it was near enough chaos there after this game.

IMO Arriva really need to look at their queuing system. Someone tweeted a picture showing it going right around the bus station (that is outside the train station) and out onto the main road outside. That is just crazy, and its no wonder why people feel they were not getting any information (as I seriously doubt people that far out in the queue could hear anything that was being announced - something that it seems Arriva now realise as they have tweeted about meeting with Cardiff council to talk about that issue).

Another problem was advance tickets and reservations. People had booked on specific trains to travel home, assuming they would be able to get those. But the way the station is run during times like this is basically all stuff like that is thrown out of the window. You queue up and get on whatever train you can, first come first served. So people were then (understandably) upset and annoyed when they were supposed to be on the say 22:00 service, but because of the queues didn't end up leaving until pretty much midnight.

I will say well done to both ToC's for putting extra trains on though. Very rarely do I see extra trains being put on for valley lines services, and the same goes for trains to Bristol / London.
 

tbtc

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I'm slightly surprised at the "twice as many people" using public transport claim.

Okay, for a Wales game (at football or rugby) people may be less likely to need the eastbound trains (either living locally, using Queen Street for Valley services, using westbound services instead), so there'd be less pressure on Newport bound services.

I appreciate that a Team GB game is going to see more people coming from over the Severn, but surely there have been quite a few rugby games involving England at the Millenium Stadium over the past decade?

And if "19,500 used Cardiff Central after the game on Wednesday night" but only 9,000 of those passengers used FGW then that must have meant some busy ATW Pacers!
 

Greenback

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All I cna say is that there have been plenty of events at the Millennium Stadium since it opened which have involved a lot of people using the train to get there. The Rugby World Cup in 1999 springs to mind, when a lot of fans were travelling on FGW services to Reading.

Perhaps it is just a case of Olympics fans being unfamiliar with what happens at Cardiff Central after an evening event getting frustrated?

Anyway, some members of my family are planning on going tomorrow, so I will have first hand reports!
 

extendedpaul

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Out of interest is it possible to beat the queueing system in these circumstances by going to Queen Street or one of the other stations within a mile or so of Central ?
 

tbtc

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All I cna say is that there have been plenty of events at the Millennium Stadium since it opened which have involved a lot of people using the train to get there. The Rugby World Cup in 1999 springs to mind, when a lot of fans were travelling on FGW services to Reading.

Perhaps it is just a case of Olympics fans being unfamiliar with what happens at Cardiff Central after an evening event getting frustrated?

I think that "unfamiliarity" must have had something to do with it - there have certainly been a fair few capacity crowds there over the last decade without this kind of problem on the railways (even events requiring large numbers of fans to be segregated - like FA Cup/ Playoff Finals - presumably there weren't a huge number of Uraguay fans needing segregation?)
 

WelshBluebird

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Out of interest is it possible to beat the queueing system in these circumstances by going to Queen Street or one of the other stations within a mile or so of Central ?

During stadium events Queen Street station is closed (apparently its "too dangerous" as it cannot handle the crows).

In terms of other stations, I believe Grangetown, Cathays or Cardiff Bay are your best bets. Although I have no idea if normal services would be running from Grangetown or Cardiff Bay (certainly would be from Cathays). The only issue would be is if they would let you change platforms without joining the queuing system. They should, but you never know (certainly at least once I have been asked to leave the station via the rear, and walk around to the front in order to get from Platform 7 to Platform 2).
 

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The number of people here was unprecented so I can understand the problems to some degree. FGW seemed to have done marvellously well in view of the circumstances but as managers of the station ATW should have upped their game. The same old problem occurred - lack of information for those queueing outside the station in the rain. I have read somewhere that ATW claimed to have had over 100 (where were they supposed to have come from) customer service staff on duty so surely they could have walked up and down the queues informing them of the situation. The press say today (South Wales Echo) that a "tannoy" system will be rigged up for the match Saturday night to keep people informed and it also states that ATW claim to have got all their passengers away without any problems. On TV ATW claimed to have said they worked with FGW to deal with the situation.
Regard the post re Queen St. station, the station is closed following big events at the Millenium for crowd control and safety reasons.
 
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D1009

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As far as people travelling to London were concerned, according to Trust the last normal service from Cardiff which departs at 2125 was held until 2139 for Olympic passengers. This seems odd as I'm not sure how many would have made it after the match. It was however reported full and standing. There were then 4 HST specials :

1L97 scheduled to depart 2220 actual departure 2340
1Z97 sched 2245 actual 2242
1Z27 sched 2255 actual 0008
1Z85 sched 2310 actual 0035

This suggests to me something went seriously wrong with the queueing system. Does anyone know any more ?
 

Nevasleep

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The queuing system was possibly set up for a Welsh Rugby match, more focus on Welsh and local destinations.
Everybody travelling Arriva seemed to get home fine, yet everyone travelling FGW were delayed. I follow FGW's tweets, and they didn't seem to have a clue where their trains were, or when they were departing, or anything else apart from trying to be polite.

I can't help but wonder if FGW guards noticed the increase on trains going into Cardiff, and perhaps should have alerted their control.
 

GlosRail

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Last time I went there in March 2011 for the Wales V England football game I had to queue up after the game for just over an hour to get a train to Cheltenham after the game. I would have missed 2 trains in that time.

It doesn't say how long the average queue was, but for the Wales V England game they had about 15 different queues for various destinations. I've no doubt that the queue to Newport would have been much quicker as there are lots more trains going there.

When I've been to Wembley stadium after a big game the queues tend to be quick moving. Normally about 15 minutes, but they only have 3 normal queues (plus a 4th for charter trains)
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Also they should know what they are doing for getting fans back to England as when Wembley was closed for over 6 years they used Cardiff for some of the big games like the FA Cup final, and the play off's.
 

quarella

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A colleague today pointed out that when the queuing system was introduced at Cardiff Ctl probably for the 2000 rugby world cup the rugby fans weren't too happy but now accept it. The passengers attending the Olympic football matches are unfamiliar with the process.

Some of the comments in the local press have amused me such as the passenger who was put on a coach and complained "The driver took the wrong road out of Cardiff." With roads across the city centre closed and the number of people travelling I would love to know which they thought would be the right road. The "herded like cattle" comment got me thinking whether the same metaphor is applied to waiting for a ride at Disneyland.

I have wondered whether a new source of revenue for ATW could be Priority Boarding. :D
 

ushawk

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30 minute delays being shown from Cardiff Central due to congestion from the football again - hopefully the queuing system is sorted for it.
 

quarella

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30 minute delays being shown from Cardiff Central due to congestion from the football again - hopefully the queuing system is sorted for it.

I would expect the congestion is due to some services, primarily the specials being held back as the crowd were and hour later due to extra time and penalties.
 

WelshBluebird

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Some of the comments in the local press have amused me such as the passenger who was put on a coach and complained "The driver took the wrong road out of Cardiff." With roads across the city centre closed and the number of people travelling I would love to know which they thought would be the right road.

To be fair, based on prior experience with ATW replacement buses, I can perfectly believe that there were problems with directions and such.
On more than one occasion I have been on one where passengers have had to give directions to the driver.
 

34Short

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Was that all? 4 extra HST's?

So those 4 sets of Mk1's/Mk2's I passed at Wembley weren't considered as strategic enough - so they were left there for use by other operators, if required?

A complete failure of foresight.
 

brizzlechris

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Other than an anouncment to say we are working on getting you through, what else would expect.
Reassurance rather than allowing a situation to occur where I felt public and staff safety was compromised?

Once people are in the queuing system there is little that they will need (with the possible exception of requiring medical assistance) as they would be moving forward and making progress toward the front of the queue.
Perhaps true if you felt like you were making progress. Standing still for 45 minutes doesn't suggest much is happening.

As if they had people "patroling" the queues then that is less staff to assist in getting them into/out of the queue.
I'm not sure 1 or 2 people wandering along a queue is a massive commitment. Just find somebody with a loud mouth.

If they had anouncements every 10-15 minutes then people would complain about them (just look elsewhere on this forum on how people feel about excesive anouncements) and in reality would provide no benefit in informing people.
So the options are nothing at all or excessive then? No middle ground?

IMO Arriva really need to look at their queuing system. Someone tweeted a picture showing it going right around the bus station (that is outside the train station) and out onto the main road outside. That is just crazy, and its no wonder why people feel they were not getting any information (as I seriously doubt people that far out in the queue could hear anything that was being announced - something that it seems Arriva now realise as they have tweeted about meeting with Cardiff council to talk about that issue).
Wholly agree with this - it took over the main road next to the bus station and there was a feeling of complete abandonment.

I have read somewhere that ATW claimed to have had over 100 (where were they supposed to have come from) customer service staff on duty so surely they could have walked up and down the queues informing them of the situation.
I'd be surprised if there were anywhere near 100 customer service staff - maybe that includes the crowd safety/security staff but they were not being told anything so were pretty useless with their arms tied behind their backs whilst wearing a blindfold.
 

sprinterguy

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Hang on - where's XC for all of this? They serve CDF shouldn't they have been mentioned?
The last Crosscountry service out of Cardiff is at 21:50, so they will have gotten out of Dodge (or in this case, Cardiff) just before everything really began to hit the fan.
 

D1009

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Other than the Voyager extensions to Weymouth, as far as I am aware XC did not run anything extra for the Olympics. Whether a later train from Cardiff to Birmingham/Nottingham/Sheffield/Leeds would have been viable or could have been resourced is open to question.
 

PHILIPE

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The last Crosscountry service out of Cardiff is at 21:50, so they will have gotten out of Dodge (or in this case, Cardiff) just before everything really began to hit the fan.
On Saturday the match would have still been inprogress at this time due to extra time and penalties. Obviously no interest in the events by XC
 
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