First Great Western

The DfT finally gets the message – as we all knew passengers in the west of England have had enough with the the poor performance of First Great Western. Well the vocal ones , including the blogs “I hate First Great Western” and “More Train, Less Strain” have been pretty good at generating mainstream media interest. A more balanced view from Christian Wolmar at the end of January got my attention, as he sees clearly the DfT role in the chaos, born out of the railway structures …

While other bloggers will go to great lengths to stick the knife in one more time I have thought more about the speed of the Remedial Plan process, which doesn’t generate confidence. This should be the guarantee that if things go wrong then they are put right pretty quick, but in this case the problems are fundamental – lack of rolling stock, demotivated staff and not enough of them, a complex mix of very local and very long distance services. I have a lot of sympathy with FGW on this, but managing the key messages in the public domain has not been their strength.

Compensation is going to be complex to payout fairly (and takes much needed cash away from the system) and discounting tickets may benefit off peak travellers who haven’t taken the commuting chaos. Better communication technology is fine, but if it isn’t used because your staff don’t know or can’t say the real reasons for delays/cancellations, then the money is wasted.

Still lets see how it all looks in 6 months time, but don’t hold your breath waiting.

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