Friday, December 22, 2006

Letting the Passengers Take the Strain

Who says you cannot do a U-turn on railway tracks? Passenger power has prompted First Great Western to announce it is reviewing the timetable it introduced less than two weeks ago.

Odd that people would object to being treated like livestock or left abandoned on freezing train platforms waiting hours for a connection that used to come in minutes.

The train rarely suits my professional journeys - and to be honest since axing that late service from Paddington and through Reading and Newbury it rarely suits full stop! However, something I have observed first hand is the way that failing to staff those late services is an excellent way to show how little they appear to be used. After all, if you do not collect any fares from passengers on these services, they quickly become inefficient and easy to axe.

In the last few years I did catch the training into Reading from Hungerford a few times; with no ticket machine at Hungerford I would board the train prepared to buy one - but discover there was no ticket collector. So anyone getting on at Hungerford, Kintbury, Thatcham Theale - or Newbury if they were smart enough not to buy a ticket - would only have to pay when they reached Reading. Little wonder many would claim to have ridden only from Theale. The last stop and the cheapest journey.

Services to Theale were increased in the review of services!

So now the axed late service, together with a host of others changed with little regard to passengers, will be reviewed and some will no doubt be reinstated. For what? More bad PR than any company would want and I suspect will taint First Great Western for many years to come.

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