FGW Passengers To Strike Back

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Coxster

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Saw this on RailChat: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2543456,00.html



Tony Ambrose finally lost patience with a rail company’s excuses when he was forced to stand in a two-carriage train’s only lavatory with two other people on the way to work.

Mr Ambrose and other angry passengers have set up a protest group, More Trains Less Strain, and are planning a fares strike over the decision by First Great Western (FGW) to withdraw 20 carriages.

The company, which has by far the worst punctuality record in the country, with more than a quarter of trains late, is saving £100,000 per carriage in annual leasing and maintenance costs by sending them into so-called warm storage at Eastleigh in Hampshire.

It has cut trains in half, leaving dozens of stations in Somerset and Wiltshire with services made up of only one or two carriages even though people had been struggling to find seats on the old four-carriage services.

FGW has also cancelled more than 700 services in the past four weeks, mainly because of a shortage of trains.

Hundreds of passengers at Bath, Trowbridge, Keynsham, Bradford-upon-Avon and Salisbury are being left stranded on platforms, unable to squeeze on to trains that arrive already dangerously overcrowded. A fortnight ago a passenger fell into the gap between the train and platform at Bath Spa station as people surged towards the doors. Several other passengers have fainted on packed trains.

Train guards are frequently demanding that people get off and wait for the train behind, which turns out to be equally overcrowded.

Commuters from Maidenhead, Twyford and other stations in the Thames Valley are also enduring severe overcrowding, with many having to abandon their journeys, because FGW has introduced a new timetable that favours more profitable long-distance trains.

This week FGW tried to pacify passengers around Bristol by borrowing all the carriages from the St Ives and Looe branch lines in Cornwall. But this has created a separate outcry from Cornish passengers, who have had to travel on buses.

The RMT union, which represents train and station staff, has complained that its members are being abused by frustrated passengers.

FGW is one of a growing number of rail companies struggling to reconcile sharp cuts in subsidy from the Government with a record growth in demand. More than 1.1 billion rail journeys were made in Britain last year, the highest number for 50 years. Last year FGW signed a new ten-year franchise deal under which it not only agreed to cease receiving a subsidy but committed itself to paying the Government a premium of £1.1 billion.

More Trains Less Strain is holding a meeting on Tuesday in Bath at which it will announce a campaign of direct action, including a day when passengers will refuse to buy tickets or show passes.

Mr Ambrose, a charity worker from Bath, said: “Why should people pay for such appalling treatment? The service has collapsed in recent weeks and it has become a lottery whether you will be able to get on a train.

“Even First’s staff are on our side — they can see the madness of storing trains in sidings when record numbers of people want to travel by rail.”

Caroline Copeland, a teacher from Oldfield Park near Bath, said that she had been late for a work three times in a week because the trains had been too crowded when they arrived. “Unless you are standing right beside the door when it stops, you have no chance of squeezing on.”

Theresa May, the Shadow Leader of the House and MP for Maidenhead, called for FGW to be stripped of its franchise. “They are making a shambles of the service, with people abandoning trains and going by car and even talking of moving house to avoid the nightmare of rail travel,” she said. “It is partly the Government’s fault because it specified a reduced service to the bidders for the contract.”

FGW said that the shortage of trains was being exacerbated by mechanical problems with the remaining fleet. A spokesman said that the company had agreed the reduction in carriages with the Department for Transport as part of its contract.

The department denied that it was to blame and said that it had been up to FGW to decide how many carriages it needed.

Alison Forster, FGW’s managing director, met a group of MPs including Ms May at Westminster yesterday to discuss the problems. She said that some extra services would operate from Monday.

She added: “We recognise that some elements of the timetable have not met all our customers’ needs and we apologise to those who have experienced crowding and train cancellations on some key services.”

Tales from the commuter line

“My train home on Tuesday was packed like the worst Tube train. The guard announced that, for health and safety reasons, people had to get off and wait for the next train. Some did, only to find the next service was also only two carriages and absolutely packed”
Simon Carpenter, 52, health trust worker from Frome

“I waited 75 minutes at Oldfield Park station on Wednesday. Two trains came in, but they were so crowded only a few people managed to squeeze on. Coupled with this, I bought my monthly season ticket on Monday and it had gone up from £99.65 to £111.80 — that’s a 12 per cent increase”
Jane Roberts, 49, college lecturer from Oldfield Park

“It has been so crowded on board recently that it becomes unbearably hot and you can't even turn your shoulder. My train used to be four carriages but now it's only two”
Kelly Horton, 32, fund- raising manager from Bath
 
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Dennis

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The statement "FGW is one of a growing number of rail companies struggling to reconcile sharp cuts in subsidy from the Government with a record growth in demand" seems contradictory to me; weren't decreasing subsidies agreed concurrently with higher revenue streams through (amongst other things) increased ridership and fares? Therefore, these two factors should not be a problem if the franchise is being properly managed.

Perhaps the problem (which is not exclusive to FGW) is that there is nowhere for more passengers to park their bums. More new trains needed perhaps? But who's going to pay for them, ....no track capacity blah blah same old arguments. Where's the 'can do' attitude in the railway industry?
 

asopu10

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Now then Nick, its suggestions like that the get people in lots of trouble, taking trains out of sidings, don't be so ridiculus, if you do that then the sidings would be empty! A nightmare! Sheesh, see the bigger picture here!

Yes I'm childish.

I saw it on rail chat to, I think its a great idea, FGW are providing such a **** service and no ones fixing it!
 

gordonthemoron

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Whilst FGW certainly appear ****, surely the blame ultimately lies with DfT for neglecting to include targets for load factor etc when negotiating the franchise. Still what do DfT know about trains
 

Jim

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Rumour is 158798 (3 car TPE) is coming back in to service from Reading, apparentally it only needed an exam, true or false I don't know
 

devon_metro

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Rumour is 158798 (3 car TPE) is coming back in to service from Reading, apparentally it only needed an exam, true or false I don't know

It appear fgw are getting some logic. things have definatly improved as of late.
 

yorkie

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/bristol/6269875.stm

I see FGW are threatening legal action, which will just make people dislike them even more. Hopefully the entire trainload of people will show these protest tickets and not a proper ticket and if FarceGroup want to get hundreds of people arrested, well they won't physically be able to.

It should be a criminal offence for FGW/DfT to deliberately ensure that people cannot get to work on time, and I'd love to see the people responsible at FGW/DfT stand trial for this! Sadly, that will never happen

Instead, they will succeed in their aims to get people to travel by car instead :(
 

Andrew

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I see FGW are threatening legal action, which will just make people dislike them even more. Hopefully the entire trainload of people will show these protest tickets and not a proper ticket and if FarceGroup want to get hundreds of people arrested, well they won't physically be able to.
You can't bend the rules for people just because they're protesting. They should all be made to pay whatever fare they are meant to. If they won't pay, they should be punished under the national conditions of carriage, or whatever documentation is relevant. I refuse to subsidise fare-dodging passengers.

It should be a criminal offence for FGW/DfT to deliberately ensure that people cannot get to work on time, and I'd love to see the people responsible at FGW/DfT stand trial for this! Sadly, that will never happen
You can't put people on trial for running a company that is not willing to cope with demand. What a ridiculous thing to suggest. You've really got to stop thinking of the railways as a public service, and think of it as a business which needs subsidy but isn't getting it. If you have an uncontrollable need to complain, then complain that BR was privatised.

Instead, they will succeed in their aims to get people to travel by car instead :(
FGW doesn't want people to travel by car. They'll still have to run their timeatble for the next however many years (7-10 I believe) and want their trains to be as full as possible (literally, apparently). They just aren't encouraging growth at the moment. As for the DfT, well they may want more people to use the roads, especially if they can get away with charging people more for doing so.
 

Tom C

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You can't bend the rules for people just because they're protesting. They should all be made to pay whatever fare they are meant to. If they won't pay, they should be punished under the national conditions of carriage, or whatever documentation is relevant. I refuse to subsidise fare-dodging passengers.

Got to agree Im afraid.

I totally agree that First Great Western are running the ship into the pier but deliberately not paying fare is exactly the same as taking a car into a petrol station, filling your tank to the brim and driving away without paying because you think petrol is so expensive. If you want to protest against First Great Western then do it by the proper channels and dare I say it boycott the service. I know people may think this is cutting your nose off to spite your face but it will hit the company where it hurts without people getting booked and I seriously doubt magastrates will be that sympathetic to your "cause".

You can't put people on trial for running a company that is not willing to cope with demand. What a ridiculous thing to suggest. You've really got to stop thinking of the railways as a public service, and think of it as a business which needs subsidy but isn't getting it. If you have an uncontrollable need to complain, then complain that BR was privatised.

Quite right!!!

The worst thing this country ever did was privatise its railways. Yes BR was't perfect (FAR from it) but I don't what we have been left with is acceptable. Leasing companies have strangled the TOC's charging completely unreasonable amounts for stock, the DfT have absolutely no idea how to run a railway (and thats clear by the specification for the Great Western franchise) and rather than invest in the railways they are quite happy for companies like GNER to run themselves into the ground by making them pay a subsidy that was clearly not viable. Yes it was GNER's fault for bidding that high but surely the DfT should have realised that GNER were never realistically going to be able to pay it and voided the bid to ensure that something like this was not going to happen.

The Great Western franchise is suffering, the East Coast Mainline is suffering, according to friends of mine at South West Trains they are now suffering with the penny pinching that is going on and Thameslink and Great Northern are suffering as a result of this tendering process that is clearly not working.
 

paul1609

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personally I dont understand why the driver of a road vehicle will be arrested for an overloaded vehicle but the operator of a rail vehicle cannot.
All rail vehicles should be urgently assessed for a safe capacity which should be clearly marked.
The BTP should be required to monitor departures.
if train crew attempt to depart with an overloaded train they should be arrested. it should be up to the TOC to police correct loading.
Where the TOC has deliberately reduced capacity directors should be subject to arrest on charges of aiding and abetting.
 

Guinness

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personally I dont understand why the driver of a road vehicle will be arrested for an overloaded vehicle but the operator of a rail vehicle cannot.
All rail vehicles should be urgently assessed for a safe capacity which should be clearly marked.
The BTP should be required to monitor departures.
if train crew attempt to depart with an overloaded train they should be arrested. it should be up to the TOC to police correct loading.
Where the TOC has deliberately reduced capacity directors should be subject to arrest on charges of aiding and abetting.

Rail never has had any 'real' capacity limit in the way of Seating and Standing. On the side of Carriages there is information in the way of number of seats such as 72S or 48F seats markings. As far as I can tell there is no limit of the amount of Standing Passengers.

I seriously doubt the BTP have any powers to stop crushing on Trains as it's ultimately the Guard's decision. What are the BTP going to do? Arrest everyone onboard? I'm surprised the HSE haven't got involved, yet.

Theses problems with overcrowding on Trains is a growing problem particularly with the increase passenger numbers. West Coast are addressing the problem with 2 extra MSOs on Pendolinos but FGW aren't doing anything because of the idiotic DfT Policies and ROSCOs. FGW are addressing problems but very slow in the way of increased numbers of Seats in TSOs Carriages on HST 'Commuter Routes'. Ultimately decisions will come down to the Government in the end. 1 Step forward, 2 Steps Back. That's the Labour Government for you.

The charges set by ROSCOs need to be urgently accessed as that's where FGW Overcrowding problem lies. But that will take a few years to sort that one out...
 

WhiteVanMan

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personally I dont understand why the driver of a road vehicle will be arrested for an overloaded vehicle but the operator of a rail vehicle cannot.
All rail vehicles should be urgently assessed for a safe capacity which should be clearly marked.
The BTP should be required to monitor departures.
if train crew attempt to depart with an overloaded train they should be arrested. it should be up to the TOC to police correct loading.
Where the TOC has deliberately reduced capacity directors should be subject to arrest on charges of aiding and abetting.


An overcrowded train is defined as not being able to close the doors and people/luggage etc is caught in the doors...
 

g4mby

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An overcrowded train is defined as not being able to close the doors and people/luggage etc is caught in the doors...
Or one where even the conductor cannot board the train?

That happened recently on a Bristol-Cheltenham service operated by a 153 although passengers did eventually see sense and squeezed up just a little bit more to let him on. :rolleyes:
 

devon_metro

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Or one where even the conductor cannot board the train?

That happened recently on a Bristol-Cheltenham service operated by a 153 although passengers did eventually see sense and squeezed up just a little bit more to let him on. :rolleyes:

:lol:

Well... at least they ran the service...
 
T

Tom

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Hehe, SWT are doing something similar to FGW here - although not on such a large scale!

On the key London - Weymouth route, in the last timetable (when fully operated by 442s, with the exception of the 2005 London - Poole, which is a 2x444) there were a total of 17328 seats, while in the new timetable, there are only 17702 seats, an average loss of 10 seats per train... not much, but it does mount up with 35 services.
 
T

Tom

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Argh. My bad!

Silly me... *runs off into a hole*

EDIT: Re-calculated ... again!

17340 seats in the old timetable, 17034 in the new timetable...

If SWT had chosen to keep the 442s, the "snug" and guards van apparently would have been converted to standard class seating, possibly 50 extra seats.
 

Mojo

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I thought it went quite smoothly actually, anyone who's seen the local news would see people just speeding past the ticket checkers on the barriers some with massive A3 tix.
 

paul1609

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Argh. My bad!

Silly me... *runs off into a hole*

EDIT: Re-calculated ... again!

17340 seats in the old timetable, 17034 in the new timetable...

If SWT had chosen to keep the 442s, the "snug" and guards van apparently would have been converted to standard class seating, possibly 50 extra seats.

Whats the situation between London and Bournemouth? I've been on a few crowded services between Southampton and Bournemouth beyond Poole however the trains are usually fairly lightly loaded less than 25% seats taken I'd say.
it has to be said that the Bournemouth Branch Line (beyond Southampton) is not a big earner for SWT the Pompey services are far more lucrative.
 

g4mby

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According to the spokesman of "More Trains Less Strain", Tony Ambrose, an estimated 2000 people took part.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/6285629.stm
I bet most of those had season tickets anyway, so still paid even though they may not have shown their ticket.

I hope that people don't think that it's only the Bath to Bristol commuters in this area that are suffering still, they are just the most vocal. I was on tonights 1644 Temple Meads to Cheltenham Spa which was operated by a Class 143. The overcrowding on leaving Bristol Parkway was worse than on any of the trains that I saw on any of tonights news programmes covering this story.
 

Jim

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I am surpirsed the fares boycott went so well, I mean, how did they get on the train, I bet some were still left behind
 

voyagerdude220

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I was on tonights 1644 Temple Meads to Cheltenham Spa which was operated by a Class 143.

I'd organise a big boycott of FGW services, simply because FGW are forcing people to suffer a journey on a 143! (Regardless of how overcroded the "train" was) ;)
 

Guinness

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Argh. My bad!

Silly me... *runs off into a hole*

EDIT: Re-calculated ... again!

17340 seats in the old timetable, 17034 in the new timetable...

If SWT had chosen to keep the 442s, the "snug" and guards van apparently would have been converted to standard class seating, possibly 50 extra seats.

I thought SWT were planning on using some 450s with the Higher Density Seats on Commuter Routes during the Peak hours for more seats?
 
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