Poor GWR Marketing of Improved Services - M4 Congestion.

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Envoy, 14 Feb 2020.

  1. Envoy

    Envoy Established Member

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    I see that local Councils wish to see the Severn Crossing Tolls re-imposed due to an increase in Traffic:>https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/charges-could-return-drivers-both-17746178


    Surely, the vast majority of people travelling across the Severn bridges by car are unaware of the improvements made by GWR to train services that go through the Severn Tunnel? As well as the new Hitachi trains on the south Wales to London line, we also now have 4 coach HST’s replacing clapped out short 150’s plus many of the Cardiff > Newport > Bristol > Bath > Portsmouth trains now have 5 coaches thanks to the introduction of 165/6’s.

    Has GWR put out any adverts about these improvements? Nah! All we have are those silly Famous 5 cartoons with kids which completely fail to get the message across about the increased capacity on trains in this region. Given the increased capacity, I would also like to see fares reduced in order to induce more people to not use their cars.
     
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  3. SWT_USER

    SWT_USER Member

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    I can see why driving is more appealing than attempting to squeeze on to another short formed 5 v 9/10 GWR service.
     
  4. irish_rail

    irish_rail Established Member

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    Indeed, the South Wales service is hardly improved, still 2 tph to London, just now quite often there is fewer seats as it's often a 5 car set. Even if it is a 9 the seating is so uncomfortable it's hardly likely to tempt folk from their cars.
    HSTs are an improvement over 150s, yes, but the journey to Bristol from Cardiff isn't the quickest on them as they have a nasty habit of stopping everywhere!
     
  5. irish_rail

    irish_rail Established Member

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    On the famous five, it is an award winning campaign. Though it seems I feel more aimed at destinations in the core route between London and bristol and oxford, ie the places that have benefited with more seats since December timetable.
     
  6. squizzler

    squizzler Member

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    The best advertising is word of mouth. Hopefully on Facebook (of which I am no longer a member but did this when I was) and other such websites lots of people are sharing the benefits via the various civic interest pages.
     
  7. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    What 'improvements'? The train service isn't a good substitute for driving, mainly because it's so much more expensive than the marginal cost of driving and not particularly frequent with gaps of 30 minutes all day. The rolling stock also is pretty beaten down and unpleasant inside, with very cheap spec interiors, so it won't appeal as much to people for whom cost isn't a concern, who probably own a fancy car. The only large advantage it has is journey time reliability, that is you can predict how long it will take at peak times more easily than you can on the Motorways because of congestion. But even that counts for fairly little if there are often delays, which there are.

    Someone who tries the train once, finds a delay of 15 minutes (all too common), has to stand (not unlikely at peak times) and sees somewhat down at heel rolling stock with a cheap, very basic interior, is unlikely to make the switch for their subsequent trips, even though rail enthusiasts would see that as the railway having done all that it possibly could for that customer.

    In other words GWR have wisely understood that there's little hope of taking car drivers off the M4 and M48, and targeted their marketing instead at weekend / family / day-trippers i.e. a market segment where they might actually have some realistic prospect of growth.

    Personally, I think that the answer is road pricing. But this would be entirely politically unacceptable without some kind of decent alternative (for the avoidance of doubt, current services fall a long way short of a decent alternative to driving). We could come back to this when there's an express train between Bristol and Cardiff every 10 minutes with a luxury interior (something like what Heathrow Express was like when those units were refurbished) and some decent coffee, with a stopping service also every 10 minutes designed to connect in with the express services at the stations where the latter call. You would probably need 6 or 8 car units, all-new infrastructure for it to be reliable enough, and to charge around half of what today's fares are (a return at £19.50 is pretty ridiculous). Oh yes and probably a new station in Bristol that's actually in the city centre.

    People need to be realistic that, while it has changed a little bit recently, the train service is just not very good, unless you're an enthusiast who likes HSTs.
     
    Last edited: 14 Feb 2020
  8. Meerkat

    Meerkat Established Member

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    Won’t most of the extra traffic be new commuters who have taken housing or job opportunities they wouldn’t have when the tolls were there?
    I would guess only a small proportion of such folk have a house and workplace that are both convenient for rail travel.
     
  9. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    This is extremely unlikely. Facebook is commonly used as a toxic swill of misinformation about the railway though, designed to whip up rage about it (e.g. Northern Resist).
     
  10. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    Option 1 - Car from your house to near your place of work, on a comfy seat with AC or heating when the weather gets hot/cold, where you might get delayed with congestion on the motorway
    Option 2 - Car from house to station, then try and work out a way to reach place of work from Newport/Cardiff stations, paying over the odds for parking & train fares, having to stand on a short formed service from London or attempt to squeeze in the middle seat of a highly luxurious 3+2 seated suburban train where the AC has failed or heating has packed up.

    Very hard decision

    #CarWins
     
  11. Wilts Wanderer

    Wilts Wanderer Established Member

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    I have a (reasonably well informed) feeling that GWR have held back on the marketing a little bit for Dec 2019 timetable just to ensure everything bedded in well, no doubt with other operators recent timetable debacles in mind.

    For May 2020 I would expect to see more aggressive marketing of the new service, particularly given the full Superfast service will commence from those dates.

    That being said, it is Bristol Metro which will tackle regional improvements in the Avon area, although I'm unclear whether this improves anything across the Severn or not.
     
  12. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    West of England/Cornwall seems to feature heavily, incidentally...
     
  13. Envoy

    Envoy Established Member

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    Many thanks for your responses thus far. Yes, I agree that you can hardly call the 165/6’s luxurious - especially with the type of suburban seating but at least they offer more capacity if run as 5 coaches than the previous 158’s with 2 or 3 coaches & usually failed air con. The mini HST’s with 4 coaches are a step up from a 2 or 3 coach 150 on services between Cardiff & Taunton/the south-west. Clearly, GWR need new stock for their non London routes. It is also ridiculous that Cardiff Central to Bristol Temple Meads is now wired apart from the final 4 miles or so from Stoke Gifford Junction down to Temple Meads. So, I guess the people who did the GWR mainline are now sitting around doing nothing - and earning nothing?

    The government declare that they wish to see us all have electric cars in order to reduce pollution but are not prepared to get on and electrify the railways.

    Putting tolls on motorways does not work - just look at the situation with the M6 Toll which was supposed to relieve congestion on the original M6. Furthermore, by tolling the motorways, many people will take to the ordinary ‘A’ & ‘B’ roads - thus bringing noise and pollution to built up areas as well as the risk of accidents being greater than on the motorways.

    Anyway, we now have an update from the UK Government who say they have no plans to re-impose the tolls on the Severn bridges:>
    https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/no-tolls-charges-severn-crossings-17748257
     
    Last edited: 14 Feb 2020
  14. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    My experience of travelling on these units from Southampton to Cardiff some months ago was absolutely appalling.

    They were filthy with ingrained dirt, formed of just 3 coaches which was well oversubscribed, and were very difficult to walk through because of narrow internal doorways and aisles. Some other passengers were arguing with the customer host because they were blocking the aisle while they were trying to leave the train.

    When I did get to sit down, my reserved seat was in a 3 across section, so there was nowhere to put my sandwiches to eat them, and nowhere to keep my bag except between my legs.

    The train was late arriving in Bristol too, and it took 15 minutes for the attachment to take place, which resulted in roughly a 20 minute late arrival in Cardiff.

    The large toilet was also out of order. In other words it was much worse than it ever used to be.
     
  15. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    This is worthy of a whole new thread, it certainly can be made to work without too much difficulty.

    The situation with the M6 Toll is quite different.
     
  16. Bikeman78

    Bikeman78 Member

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    Although they have, in my opinion, an incredibly irritating information screen in the middle of each coach that scrolls constantly. Do I really need to see every station to Penzance listed five times between Cardiff and Newport? Why can't it just do nothing between stations? In future I'll make a point of sitting on a seat underneath the screen so I can't see it out of the corner of my eye the whole time.
     
  17. stj

    stj Member

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    I travel across to Bristol from South Wales by car.The congestion is not much worse as it was bad around Almondsbury and Newport with tolls.The main problem with the M4 is the reduction from 3 to 2 lanes in several places.The M5 through the area is also bad and even worse in the summer.Cant see how a congestion charge will improve things.Rail is only any use if you live and work near a station.
     
  18. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    Do you broadly make the journey 4 to 5 times a week? If you're willing to share I am interested roughly how much does it cost you and which station would you travel from?
     
  19. jimm

    jimm Established Member

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    You really do have a problem with posting factually correct information, don't you?

    Since Monday December 17, there are THREE trains per hour between Cardiff and London in the weekday peaks in the direction of the main passenger flows morning and evening (for periods of three hours each morning and late afternoon/early evening). As announced by GWR well over four years before the extra trains actually started running.

    Presumably the comment about five-car sets is, as per usual, based on nothing more than you claiming this is the case - or looking at Journeycheck, which has not exactly been covering itself with glory when it comes to accurate details on formations recently, such as these from today, noted in posts on the GW Passengers' Forum.

    http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=18792.2280
     
  20. Master29

    Master29 Established Member

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    Absolutely. all this 40+ years and probably billions in consultancy fees in the making considering the HST was supposed to be a stopgap. How can we be saying that after 40 years the IET is a great leap forward from the HST. Not even a sideways move quite frankly and the fact that business users can't find this route attractive anymore (this even with GWR's own admittance) they now aim their ads at the weekend traveller who'll no doubt spend more time on rail replacement transport. It's quite shocking really that this is what we have after nearly half a century of so called improvements.
     
  21. squizzler

    squizzler Member

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    Erm, presumably they are advertising to the weekend traveller because they already filled all their peak time trains (GWR discussion threads passim). Oops, I forgot the proper narrative, that is because all the new trains are all too short despite the IET fleet providing many more and longer coaches than the withdrawn classes, not because they are gaining business.
     
  22. jimm

    jimm Established Member

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    GWR tries to fill empty seats on their trains off-peak and at the weekend. What an outrageous idea.

    Has it occurred to you that weekday peaks are not a time of the day when GWR (and the railway generally) needs to bust a gut to sell tickets?

    Are the trains between Cardiff, Newport and Bristol at that time of the day running empty all of a sudden? I doubt it, but expect someone can enlighten us.

    Just in case you hadn't noticed, in the good old days (when everything was oh so much better), BR sold, er, Weekend Return tickets, and came up with Weekend First upgrades, to, er, help fill empty seats on InterCity services all over the country on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Online journey planners warn you when there is engineering work and replacement buses will be in use.

    If all the business travellers have deserted the trains due to the horrors of IETs - as opposed to more people using cars to get between South Wales and the Bristol area due to not having to pay the tolls now, which I imagine is what the councils either side of the Severn are really most concerned about - why has GWR just increased the number of seats per hour between Cardiff and Paddington on the key morning and afternoon/evening peak flows from 1,300 seats per hour to almost 2,000 per hour?

    Maybe you should get in touch with GWR and ask for some of that consultancy money for telling them how misguided they are.
     
  23. stj

    stj Member

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    I travel 4 times a week cost around £6 a day in fuel and takes 30 mins door to door by car.Rail would take 1 1/2 hours plus 20 mins to get to STJ as I need to go into Temple Meads and out again on the Severn beach line.Fare is around £10 a day.Also I could not arrive at work before 9am using the train thats if its on time as the performance on the Severn beach line is poor.
     
  24. squizzler

    squizzler Member

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    If this discussion is really about the merits of abolishing the tolls on the Severn bridges rather than GWR marketing per se, perhaps it would not be off topic to discuss other transport provision than the train. Taking this example:
    If the lower crossing was to get a bus lane on both carriageways, it would allow for more door to door routes linking both sides of the Severn. @stj could upgrade his journey from car to bus! The reduction of the generic highway lanes to two in each direction would also throttle the motorists going on the crossing itself so they get jammed up harmlessly over the water out of everyone else's way rather than around Newport where they pollute the town.
     
  25. mmh

    mmh Established Member

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    The only real solution to congestion on the M4 is improving the M4, including building a decent standard relief road past Newport. As mentioned up thread, the main problem is the two lane bottlenecks. That's long been the case, and a relief road's been talked about for 30 odd years. The dropping of tolls might have slightly increased traffic over the bridges, but the congestion problem isn't a new phenomenon. Plus a large amount of the commuter traffic on it is within Wales and won't be affected by the existence of bridge tolls.

    Sadly it's currently a problem in stalemate due to political meddling. The Westminster government is in favour of improving the road, the Welsh Government (or arguably a grandstanding First Minister) is dead against. So nothing will happen.

    Bridge tolls won't be introduced, it'd be politically unacceptable especially in a climate where the party in charge in Cardiff Bay is more than a little worried about losses in next year's election following what they saw in the general election.
     
  26. stj

    stj Member

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    UK Government has now stated tolls wont be introduced.This report was done by the Councils in the Bristol area who have done very little to improve pubic transport.Remember the Tram system that was proposed 20 years ago.Bristol and South Gloucester Council could not agree a route so it was canned.
     
  27. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    For all the so-called 'improvements' that GWR have brought on this route I note that the 1520 from Bristol Temple Meads to Cardiff Central has a pretty rubbish journey time of 63 minutes nowadays owing to the 8 minute wait that has been enforced at Filton Abbey Wood.

    At the very least we should be aiming for 45 minutes journey time all day on a route between such large cities.

    The attachment shows the schedule foe the 1520 departure from Bristol Temple Meads, which departs from Filton Abbey Wood at 1535 and arrives at Cardiff Central at 1623.
     

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  28. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    How are you going to do that without reducing stops? Looking at that schedule, 2U20. It you took the dwells down at Filton to 1 minute and took the pathing time out, you will still only be at the 50ish minute mark. Where are the other 5 coming from?
     
  29. Master29

    Master29 Established Member

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    Longer. That's a laugh. Have you ever been to Cornwall lately on an IET?
    So why the adverts? Hardly aimed at the weekday traveleller are they?
    Your point?
    Indeed but not relevent as it was a general quote about weekend works.
    This isn't just about seats though is it?
    You know very well what I mean.
     
  30. davetheguard

    davetheguard Member

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    Fortunately this one is easy: electrification!

    Easy for the marketing people too: fast; modern; clean; green.
     
  31. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    I'm not looking to do anything; I'm explaining why people aren't using the service in the numbers that the OP would like. Also, 50 min would be far superior to 63, and bring it more in line with the others.
     

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