Friday, 28 December 2007

Priceless FGW ineptitude

From the BBC:

I almost laughed out loud.


What a relief

I have had all this week off and will have most of next as well. This is just lovely.

I am not at the mercy of FGW until late next week - I am approaching a state of happiness that I have not felt since the birth of my daughter.

I was watching the Bourne Ultimatum last night (spot the Christmas present). It was one of those action moments when Bourne is in a station and the train departs at just the right moment for the baddy to get away.

This would never happen in the UK. There would be enough time for Bourne to grab the baddy off the train, beat him to a pulp and walk away into the crowds.

What a perfect excuse for FGW to say that the train was late - a "Customer Incident" they would doubtless call it.

Anyway, enough of that for the moment. Back to the mince pies and so on.


Friday, 21 December 2007

Home for Christmas

I have made it home tonight on a train that was on time!! What a lovely present. Journey was punctuated by frantically annoying woman on mobile phone - usual story - no sense of the volume of her voice of how pretentious she sounded to everyone else. Stabbed her to keep her quiet.....

Decided to provide a moment of excitement by displaying my favourite socks that I wear to work on "power days" - i.e. those days when my motivation is at such a low ebb that I need something to lift me from the general malaise.

Happy Christmas and thanks to those people I have come across recently who have linked to this blog - I will ensure I reciprocate and thus build up our community of FGW opposition.


Thursday, 20 December 2007

A genuinely new experience

I arrived at the station this morning and saw, as I wandered past the booking office in an aimless fashion, that the train was on time. I actually had to walk quickly across the footbridge to catch it - it literally arrived as I stepped on to the platform - great timing.

The "train manager" came on the tannoy (she actually knew how to use it without it feeding back or distorting - a rare treat) and over the course of the journey, thanked us all for "managing to close the doors behind us because this really does help keep the train on time". Nearly laughed out loud (thus breaking rule 10, subsection 3.1 of the Commuter Etiquette Code which reads:"under no circumstance should any passenger show any emotion even if he or she is in the depths of depression and despair or the heights of joy and ambition."

The irony is that the train was really quiet today. This goes to prove my understanding and indeed FGW's understanding or the railways - This railway would always run on time if it weren't for the passengers.

Or more literally translated: It's not the fault of FGW that the trains are late. It's the customers who don't shut the doors that delay the trains.
Damn these customers..

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

A Christmas Update on my favourite characters

Those of you who are regular readers will be familiar with some of my fellow commuters. I am aware I have mentioned them less as my anger at FGW has increased. So here goes:

Visaman - still commuting with me. He brought his son with him the other day. I don't mind saying that this young lad has the most extraordinary hair - it had it's own gravitation pull and everything. Very nice chap and polite. So we'll forgive the hair.

Teaman - I see him more on the way home now and I think he's forgiven me for putting milk in my Earl Gray.

Trainman - The encyclopedia of railways. He now gets a different line which apparantly arrives early in London on regular occasions. Just watch his fare go up!

Tallman - still tall.

"Hermione" - the one that doesn't speak. Well actually she spoke to me the other day - to say thanks for holding the door for her.

Roy Harley the train manager - I think he's been redeployed which is a shame as I enjoyed his witty banter in the morning.

I think that's it - what a jolly crew.

Selective Door Opening

Those of us that travel regularly on lines that have stations with short platforms will now be familiar with a new sight on FGW.

Since the new Selective Door Opening mechanism was introduced, the quality of announcements from the "Train Manager" has gone down and we have been greeted by the sight of a harrassed looking shopper or an inattentive commuter having to run fast down the train over the various hurdles left in the aisle in case of such a calamity.

I think they've all made it so far but there is this sense of panic that is transmitted when the person realises that the sadistic "Train Manager" has not opened all the doors because, quite rightly, there is no platform next to some of the train. The panic is not that they will miss their stop and have to get off later.


It's the panic at having to spend another minute on board an FGW train.

Still, my sadistic mind finds it funny until the moment that is happens to me.


Thursday, 13 December 2007

A different bit

A colleague of mine related the following story which goes to re-enforce all of my opinions and thoughts about FGW:

Travelling from Reading to Slough I caught an HST which promised faithfully that it would be calling at Slough and London Paddington. About 14 mins after the train left Reading, it started to brake quite hard and I looked up, out of the window to see Slough Station sailing past at about 100 mph. I also saw lots of people waiting on the platform and panicked faces of my fellow passengers who also wished to alight there.
The "Train Manager" was seen to make his way through the carriage talking quickly into his phone - presumably to the driver. 5 mins later there followed an announcement that the train had not stopped at Slough due to a security alert.
There are a number of problems with this explanation:
1. During a security alert, people have to leave stations, they do not stay on the platform.
2. During a security alert, trains are not allowed to carry on through the station.
3. The train had already started slowing down.
4. There were people waiting for the train to arrive.
So, a bunch of lies by the look of it.
The truth later came out - apparantly it was a trainee driver who forgot about Slough. He is now the talking point of the entire network.
What I can't believe is that they lied about it when they'd made the cock up. Gives you an insight into the way these people think and why their service is as bad as it is.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Petition for the Cotswold Line

As you know, I am constantly complaining to FGW about their lack of service, slovenly staff and ill-informed decisions.

Recently the "Selective Door Opening" has caused all kinds of problems on the train - a proper nightmare - people getting stuck in carriages etc made worse by the fact that the FGW staff clearly do not know how to use a tannoy system without making it:

a) feedback
b) distort so it sounds like you're on Mars.

Now someone has started a petition - Mr Richard Fairhurst. So if you use this line and are getting stitched up the same way as I am, please give this some attention.

Also see: for anger even greater than mine.

That's all I'm saying....

A different subject - calming down a bit...

I've noticed that my posts have again become angry and somewhat personalised in terms of the people I mention.. So I've decided to be nice again...

I was looking at the BBC website today and I saw a video that has been made by the American President as part of his Christmas message.

I watched open mouthed as the whole Bush family took part in what can only be described as a pantomime. Even worse that idiot Blair shows up in it as well.

I am lost for words... So I'm going to go and hide under the bed until Fraulein Clinton comes to power.... God help us all.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Oh what a week

It's been a bit of a nightmare this week. I will get very specific and nasty about something in my next post but this one is dedicated to the shower at First Great Western. I would call them "The Shonks" but that title uniquely belongs to another company that shall remain nameless.... for the moment.

Below is a copy of my email to FGW customer services. You will note my angry tone - try if you will to imagine my tone of voice etc when reading this:

"Further to my email below I have again suffered the same fate on my way home from work:
The 16:53 from Reading was delayed but about 20 mins. I asked platform staff at Reading if they would phone ahead to ask if the connecting train to kingham etc. could be held. This was met with a blank refusal and an admonishment that the connection would never be held this long. Not exactly a world class customer service solution.

I arrived at Oxford and found that in face the connecting train had been cancelled. I then spent another significant period of time enjoying the limited delights of Oxford station (a cup of tea).

The 1821 train arrived (late) and finally delivered me to Kingham station at 7pm ish. I'm sorry that I can't remember the exact time but I was in a rush to get home having wasted my time at Oxford and indeed Reading.

This is the 2nd time this week the train has been seriously disrupted.

However, I feel bound to point out that the train has not been on time ONCE in the last week - either on the way to or the way from work. You can view this a 100% failure of FGW to run a world class train service.

I look forward to hearing from you in terms of both an explanation and a suggestion as to what compensation you will offer.

Best regards"

Note the ironic best regards which really means "I want to hurt you".


Sunday, 2 December 2007

Last Friday Night

What a debacle..

I caught the early train home in an effort to spend a bit of time in the house before going out for a fantastic dinner engagement.

I knew my plans were holed below the water line when I got to the station and saw the sight that all commuters on a Friday night dread to see:

An overcrowded platform with passengers crowded round members of staff and the tv monitors desperate in their quest for information about a train (or other mode of transport not excluding horses) that will convey them to their accommodation for the night.

It's like a cold hand reaches into your chest and clutches at your still beating heart and then attempts to make you give up there and then. Only the bravest carry on.

Train after train was delayed including mine which, when it did arrive, dramatically changed it's destination literally as the train arrived on the platform. Instead of taking us via our usual route, we were flung towards the hateful town of Swindon (sorry) and then told to get off because there would be buses to take us to our stations where we foolishly had parked our cars.
Tall man and I managed to bump into each other at Swindon and, with 3 others, ended up hiring a black cab to take us to Kingham. I should point out that we tried a number of mini-cabs who all responded:
"Wherrreeee??? Kinghammmmmm? Never 'eard of thaaaat. We don't go beyond Wiltshire boarders".
This resulted in a colourful bout of swearing from tall man who was also getting soaked by the torrential rain that was throwing it down just to make sure we were really uncomfortable.
In contrast to the previous occasion when a freight train broke down near Oxford, FGW staff were next to useless. The woman who was meant to have organised the buses started having an argument with the bus driver that had actually shown up and it all went very wrong very quickly.
Anyway, one £80 cab fare later and we were sorted. Only got home an hour and half late..... no thanks to FGW.

Great Trousers!!!

I had to change trains at Oxford the other day. I had the fortune to walk behind this fellow wearing the most retinally exciting coloured cords I have seen. Apologies for the picture quality.
I could never get away with that.
I am also amused by the way the vivid colours that adourn Oxford station clash with the trousers.