What was GNER really like?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by 102 fan, 19 Nov 2011.

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  1. 102 fan

    102 fan Member

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    I used to visit York twice a year, and I always liked to travel by GNER. I always liked them. Has any former regular user any thoughts on them?
     
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  3. Nym

    Nym Established Member

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    1,000,000,000 times better than Hull Trains, whenever I went to London on them, always fantastically polite staff, and of course running HSTs rather than 222s is a plus.

    Never sampled the restaurant when I was on board, but it always looked nice.
     
  4. OMGitsDAVE

    OMGitsDAVE Member

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    Who mentioned Hull Trains? :o

    I always thought GNER was a good company, but some people on here are obviously very bias and it's a god send!

    It was a good company, did well with what it had to be honest.
     
  5. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    GNER was very good most of the time but did rely on their classic railway image which through rose tinted specs & was often a dissapointment. Yes the staff where on the whole very good & looked exceptionally smart & the restaurant won awards & was superb. But to the majority of passengers in standard class it was more often overcrowded trains with passengers balancing on suitcases outside toilets & trolley catering trapped & becoming a static service from a vestibule.
     
  6. Bridge189

    Bridge189 Member

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    The catering was top notch will the full restaurant and buffet plus trolley services in both classes on most weekday trains. Towards the end they got progressively worse in standards.
     
  7. trentside

    trentside Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    I always enjoyed travelling with GNER.

    Their standards of presentation for their fleet always seemed to be very high, and I have to say that I consider the Mallard refurbishment to be one of the best carried out by any TOC (I know there are many who would disagree with this, though).
     
  8. Mark_re

    Mark_re Member

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    I loved GNER. They embarked on a great refurbishment, had a great brand and trialled some interesting products. - anyone remember 'GNER Silver Service'?
     
  9. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    I remember GNER to be OK. Trains very well loaded. Some of the guards could be a bit desperate though. Did seem to have a high opinion of themselves though, sometimes warranted and other times not.
    Like probably 90% of passengers I never used the restaurant so wasn't really something I can comment on
     
  10. Jeremy B

    Jeremy B Member

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    I used GNER throughout its existence & found the staff to be quite professional & certainly never observed any of this haughtiness you describe with the guards
     
  11. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    Sorry I didn't mean to suggest the guards had a high opinion of themselves, just that some of them were a little, arm, enthusiastic.
    I meant GNER thought a lot of themselves as a company. As I said sometimes deserved, sometimes not so much
     
  12. GNERman

    GNERman Established Member

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    For how little money was actually spent by Sea Containers it was a quality job.

    One thing I have been thinking about recently is the brand that they created; the simple but stylish and identifyable livery, the "route of the flying scotsman" on every coach, classic name... Even when they hired 43080 for around 6 weeks it was painted in the livery... Has any rail company managed to create such a recognisable brand since???

    But, I do believe that they may have the benefit of the doubt with the incidents they were involved in, Selby, Sandy and Hatfield, and of how they in a short franchise life, to be involved in all three incidents was a great shame...
     
    Last edited: 19 Nov 2011
  13. caliwag

    caliwag Member

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    mmm...As I recall, Sherwood's idea was to develop the BR Inter City idea of real service (which really set the tone)...and it worked for a period. There were far more uniformed hosts on the train who were expected to stand at the doors of the first class to welcome and thank passengers. The uniform included hats which they were obliged to wear on welcoming and waving farewell to first class passengers. I found all that rather endearing.
    The restaurant was superb as was the buffet, running to regional bottled beer and cheeses and seasonal stuff like game pie...quite wonderful.

    So what was there to complain about? Not a lot, but plainly they couldn't influence the rest of the railway that just got in the way! Sherwood wanted to run a railway that suited business people...including the idea that there should be parkways near Edinburgh, Donny and Welwyn (which brought out every imaginable nimby) to run effectively rapid business trains with car parks...it does seem very reasonable even now, but was quietly told, I understand, 'just run the franchise mate, don't f++k about with the infrastructure. I believe the same thing was said to GW (whoever was behind that) when they started to have designs on a West country high speed line.

    That's why such good guys just go back to what they know...ask Mr Branson!
     
  14. Masboroughlad

    Masboroughlad Established Member

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    In their early days, I would have let them have every inter-city francishe. The culture, customer service and product were second to none. They knew how to look after their staff too at the beginning. Used to work for them in the good old days. I'd have them back tomorrow!

     
  15. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    That's a fair summary.

    They certainly knew what kind of passengers they were aiming for, with a lot of attention to detail at the "high end" of things.

    I guess that was one of the early ideas of privatisation, that you could get more revenue from the two/three coaches at the London end than you could from the six coaches at the other end. GNER certainly seemed to be more focussed on the "London" end of the train, put it that way...

    Whoever did their PR should get a job at other TOCs today, because GNER were very good at the little things which people notice (a smart crest on the side of the train and a "traditional" livery take the attention away from other things)
     
  16. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    TBH I've used all of the ECML operators relatively frequently and I've found all of them to be decent enough. I suspect that a lot of this has to do with them being (largely) the same staff.
     
  17. 102 fan

    102 fan Member

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    I wasn't wrong then!
     
  18. 43167

    43167 Established Member

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    I used to bash GNER hst's alot. Found the staff excellent.

    However, I was dissapointed for a period of about 3 years when there was engineering work, they persisited to use replacement coaches and ignored the diversion routes.
     
  19. HH

    HH Established Member

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    Good at PR; good catering; decent customer service.

    Operationally not so hot. But then a lot of the time they didn't have to be - everything makes way for them. They also had the fastest line and the best starting rolling stock.

    IMO it would have been hard, at the start of the Franchise, not to have done a good job - they were taking over BR's "Blue Riband".
     
  20. Bellwater

    Bellwater Member

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    Fair assesment. Didn't endear themselves to the rest of the rail industry with their holier-than-thou attitude.
     
  21. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    ...or their preference for people to use connecting coaches to reach Lincoln/ Grimsby/ Hull etc, instead of using Northern Spirit/ Central Trains connections...

    (but then if you transferred onto a GNER-coach then they didn't have to share any ORCATS money with the "provincial" operators)
     
  22. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    I agree. Their efforts to provide a high standard of customer service set the Company apart from all others.
    It went further, their HR policy included retaining a very large proportion of former BR staff, even those whose advancing years was becoming apparent in their duties (and I mean this in the kindest possible sense).

    In my own work with the Company, I was always impressed by the team-collaborration, effective communications, availability of personnel when they're needed, support and assistance in complying with all operational requirements (esp. Safety) and genuine interest in operating the railway. (These were brought to my clear attention at the interfaces between GNER and other TOCs operations at GNER stations).
    Each of those has now been diminished.

    Again, I agree.
    However, I'm not entirely persuaded that this was purely an 'attitude problem' with GNER as it also involved the rapid shift within 'the rest of the rail industry' towards new priorities: competitive advantages, profit, efficiency and replacing experienced staff with less-expensive incomers; GNER made a point of introducing some of those changes at a slower pace. I am not an apologist for GNER, they were culpable, but not wholly responsible, for those difficulties, and if there is an apology, it is in the Company's abovementioned preference to retain established BR staff while others did not. (Sadly, less of that advantage remains today, but it does and can still be found in EC mess rooms).
     
    Last edited: 20 Nov 2011
  23. HH

    HH Established Member

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    Replacing experienced staff with less expensive newcomers? Can you be more specific? I'm not aware of any 'global replacement program' in other TOCs. And generally pay rates are far higher than they were pre-privatisation.
     
  24. amcluesent

    amcluesent Member

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    For pax, GNER was great, certainly in FC. I still miss having one FC carriage kept at weekends for full fare pax/season ticket holders, so you're not deafened by wailing kiddies on AP.

    The contrast with NXEC was glaring, as their bean-counters let everything go to hell in a handcart. (remember the squirty UHT "milks"?)
     
  25. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Yes, indeed I can. But I regret that I feel unable to do so on this public forum as it is just conceivable that there may be (and I say this in all naievety) some outstanding employment dispute which should not be prejudiced nor influenced by ad hoc reports.
    [I am not trying to avoid your question, and if you have genuine reasons to discuss this further, could I please ask you to contact me by private mesage (PM) to which I would be happy to reply to the best of my abilities]
     
  26. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    Was an FOR from Newcastle to London a staggering £386 back then?

    Nevertheless, that sounds like a great idea. Why didn't Richard Branson think of that with his "3-classes" idea? "Standard," "Standard Premium" (For First Class AP holders, with a slightly downgraded First Class service) and "Premier Class."

    Oh wait - this is starting to sound like Eurostar! :|
     
  27. 185

    185 Established Member

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    I worked there when the uniform was black BR Intercity rain jacket, maroon waitcoat, BR red pintripe shirt, gold GNER metal badge and grey BR pants - long before the blue uniform arrived.

    Some stinky long shifts there inc. triple Leeds-KGX :(
     
  28. Oldrowley

    Oldrowley Member

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    Let's not forget GNER's superb CEO Christopher Garnett whose high standards of service cascaded down through the ranks. He was frequently to be seen 'on the shop floor' and I imagine commanded great respect from the staff.
    It has to be said that those station staff at York who transferred to National Express and then East Coast have retained their self-respect and continue to be very smart and efficient. Sadly, some of the on-board staff who step down from the East Coast trains at the station stop present a scruffy and unkempt appearance - something Chris Garnett would never have tolerated.
     
  29. shedman

    shedman Member

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    I most certainly could go into great detail too! If you were a fare paying passenger then game on, you were treat the 'GNER' was but if you were staff......

    I'm not saying every member of staff was like that but a very VERY big percentage were!
     
  30. Bellwater

    Bellwater Member

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    The Railway Press used to fawn over them too. I remember a Rail Article on the opening of the Allington Curve and it pictured Chris Garnett and Nick Brown(ex Central MD)together as if Central were apologetic for delaying the Precious GNER trains.

    Those of us who know Newark Flat Crossing know the opposite...
     
  31. BigVince76

    BigVince76 Member

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    Wow where do you guys get these rose tinted glasses from? My memory of GNER from 2002-2005 is that of cramped, overcrowded HSTs with fetching poo brown seat covers and about as much leg room as a pacer. Luke warm instant coffee from the buffet and only a casual attempt at time keeping. The one time I pushed the boat out and went for the restaurant I was presented with a bit of old shoe leather which they called steak, I did not go back. I did like the White Rose trains and that you could smoke but apart from that I tried to avoid them whenever possible.
     
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