Saturday, 8 December 2007

It's only taken them a year, give 'em a chance

Come on, it's only taken them a year to work out that wasting an hour of your life every day if not good customer service. So roll on Monday 10 December for the old, sorry, new, timetable. (Even if it means 5-6 min connections....and yes, you 1721ers from Oxford, you know what that means! 'It's not a connecting service')

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

9, 12 and 14 March - 3-day birthday pressie

I haven't posted anything for a while as everything seems to have settled down and I have not had anything to day or winge about.

It was my birthday on 9 March and FGW kindly ensured that the Cheltenham train was delayed at Didcot so that we could catch it and then get on the BTM train at Swindon. Bit of a nightmare legging it between trains with a bike, a heavy bag and a bottle of wine, but it was worth it! Same thing happened on 12 March. And today on 14 March the train for Bath stopped at Didcot so we went straigh through to Bath, just like in the old days. It was fab.

Monday, 19 February 2007

19 Feb - Driver didn't know the way to Chippenham!

I was sitting at Swindon station this evening, thinking that I wouldn't have to do a special entry for today's on my blog, as this morning's journey had been uneventful, when the train to Bristol Temple Meads turned up (this train calls, and has always called, at Chippenham, Bath, then Bristol TM). I had caught 2 trains to get this far, and it had taken me over 1 hour. I was pleased to be getting on the thrid and final train of the day.

So we got on and sat down, and started to settle down. After a few minutes we were still sitting in Swindon station. 'What's going on?' we thought. I said, 'I bet you they are going to tell us that we are not stopping at Chippenham or Bath'. Then the train manager came on the tannoy and made an announcement. Well, I guess that's what she did, but the sound system in our carriage was broken so we didn't hear it. Concerned, JF got up to see what was happening as now the electronic departure board said that the train was only calling at Bristol TM (I could be a psychic). I went into the next carriage and asked the passengers if they heard the announcement. Nobody in that carriage had either. So I announced that it looks like we won't be calling at Chippenham or Bath. I then went back into my carriage and informed the passengers in there. Someone asked me why. I replied 'I dunno, just one of their whims', which is sort of true - one never knows what is going to happen next of a FGW train, the timetable is a fantastic piece of fiction!

So we got off the train. I ran along the platform (with my 10kg bike) and tried to ask the train manager why we weren't stopping. She refused to talk to anyone, so I had to ask the train dispatch man. He said, and I quote 'the driver does not know the route to Chippenham or Bath'. I replied that it was one railway and there were a few lights along the way, so what is the problem? (I could tell her the way as I've done it enough times!) He then said, she could not 'sign' for the route. Essentially, she should have been relieved at Swindon and another driver should have taken us to the advertised stops.

Needless to say, most people were livid. Especially when 90% of the passengers on that train were going to Chippenham or Bath.

Am I being cynical ifI were to suggest that this was a ploy to get to BTM on target? Much better to reach your target than the serve the paying passengers. Why was it that the driver could go to BTM but not the stations inbetween?

So, I arrived 30 mins late. Not impressed. What a shambles. What a pathetic excuse for a train company. A long complaint is in the post.


Journey to work punctuality: 84%, 37/44
Journey home punctuality: 77%, 34/44


FGW alerts:
nothing exciting to say for themselves today. Of course, no reports of what really happened!

Friday, 16 February 2007

15 and 16 Feb - Half term correlation with driver sickness?

Both 15 and 16 Feb went well. All trains (2 going to work and 3 going home on both days) appeared on time. The only excitement was tonight at Swindon when a few drunk lads got hold of the microphone on platform 4 and started making annoucements. At first we ignored this as we are used to hearing incomprehensible utterings from the station staff, however, when they started giggling and getting a bit giggly we realised what had happened.

Other gossip from this week: DT gave a member of the Oxford station staff a lesson in how to say thank you. And today, the 0755 connected with the 0754, sorry DW!

I was going to entitle this entry 'nothing too exciting' but then I remembered about the messages I had received this week about why trains were cancelled: driver sickness. And then I noticed all the kids hanging around Didcot station. It was half-term week! Of course, I might just be imagining it all.


Journey to work punctuality: 84%, 36/43
Journey home punctuality: 79%, 34/43


FGW alerts:
15 Feb
0650 Wchstr FG St yo Oxf cancelled, traincrew sicknedd. Next train 0728, road transport. 0733 Oxf Paddington, train fault.
1605 Oxford-Paddington cancelled. Possible delays between Swindon and Chippenham due to signalling problem.
16 Feb
Late start expected 0651 Oxford to Paddington approximately 10 mins.
Full advertised service. No problems reported.
nothing to note

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

14 Feb - Go With What You Know, My Lucky Day

I caught the usual 0642 today - I couldn't face another 0612 and not actually reaching my destintation on time. Did the usual wait at Didcot for 25 mins, but we got in on time.

Caught the 1621 home - we were lucky when we got to Didcot as a Cheltenham train was delayed so we got on that, then went to plaftom 4 and caught the slightly delayed BTM train, and I was in Bath for 1740! Fantastic! Enough time to make myself beautiful for my Valentine...


Journey to work punctuality: 83%, 34/41
Journey home punctuality: 78%, 32/41


FGW alerts:
nothing to note or of amusement

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

13 Feb - What's a connecting service? Physical Abuse, and Getting Tired

Another bad day. I am so tired that I have just made my gin and tonic in a wine glass. Things are getting bad.

Caugth the 0612 Bath-Padders train, but had to get off at Swindon to catch the 0649 to Padders train as it stopped at Didcot. I didn't really want to get off at Swindon as carriage B was an old First Class carriage and I enjoyed having an extra-wide chair and table all to myself! However, after having got off at Swindon the 0649 was delayed by a few mins and we were slowed down on the track for a while. So of course, yet again, we missed the 0714 from Didcot to Oxford. So, yet again, we had to wait for 40 mins for the next train to Oxford. 40 mins! Yes, 40 mins. What, although Oxford is only 12 miles away and it is rush hour? Yes, it is only 12 miles away, I could probably cycle it quicker, and it is rush hour.

While we were in Didcot, we bumped into DT and he told us that someone had nearly barged him off the platform at Bath while he was trying to get on a train. Apparently, everyone was moving slowly towards the door and as DT approached the door, someone pushed him from behind. DT called him an idiot, which he obviously was, but fortunately, there were no fisty-cuffs.

I also found time to write to the station manager asking him to hold the 0714 for the 0649 from Swindon in the hope that that connection may one day work.

So I arrived at work 45 mins late - again.

Journey home was not as bad. 1653 from Oxford to Didcot then 1741 to Bath. And the 1721 from Oxford connected with it today (I could tell by the stream of latecomers on to the train who were slightly out of breath).


Journey to work punctuality: 83%, 33/40
Journey home punctuality: 77%, 31/40


FGW alerts:
0544 H'ford to Padd cancelled, train fault. 0710 Bri TM to Padd cancelled, train fault. 0752 Oxf to Padd cancelled, staff sickness. (There seems to be a lot of staff sickness in this half-term week.)
Full advertised service. No problems reported. (What nobody's sick or there's no train fault?)

Monday, 12 February 2007

12 Feb - arrrggghhh, arrggghhh

I had recovered from Friday night's abyssmal service on the way home and had regained some confidence so that I went for the 0612 from Bath. The 0612 turned up and got us to Swindon on time but the 0649 to Didcot was cancelled. This meant that we could not make our connection at Didcot to get us to Oxford. We asked the train manager but he said that the driver wouldn't know about stopping at Didcot (and going on past experiences they do not really know where thet usually stop). So we huddled around a table at Swindon until the next train for Didcot. We got on the 0711, the train I would have caught from Bath if I had stayed in bed for another 30 mins. So we got to Didcot and we sat in the Pumpkin Cafe for 25 mins until the 0754 to Oxford. So I got into work 50 mins later than planned.

Journey home was not as bad but we were 15 mins late getting into Bath.

Not a good day today.


Journey to work punctuality: 85%, 33/39
Journey home punctuality: 77%, 30/39


FGW alerts:
0534 Gt Malv to Pad service start Oxf. 0540 Chelt to Padd service cancelled. 0700 Padd to Bri TM cancelled. All due to traincrew sickness. (Well, I bloody hope they are feeling better tomorrow otherwise I might start to fee a bit ill.)
1548 Padd-Cheltenham not calling Reading or Didcot. 1630 BTM-Pad not calling Didcot or Reading. (No excuse given. I suppose that's one way to get your train to its destination to meet its target...why stop at stations, it only slows the train down...)

Saturday, 10 February 2007

9 Feb - arrrgggghhhh!

Caught 0612 from Bath, changed at Swindon and Didcot. Problem-free journey. Journey home was awful - and it was a Friday, and I felt quite pants as I am developing a cough. Caught the 1621 from Oxford to Didcot and went to Pumpkin Cafe as the 1656 train to Swansea, which is our connecting train to get us on a BTM train, was delayed. DW fird up his laptop and we watched the live update screen for Reading. To our dismay, the BTM train was allowed in front of the Swansea train and so we would not be able to catch our connecting train. The BTM whistled through Didcot and so I had to wait for the 1741 train to BTM. This eventaully turned up and left Didcot at 1801, and arrived in Bath at 1854. So it took me from 1621-1854 to get to Bath (2 hr 33 mins), when it should have taken 1621-1756 (1 hr 35 mins). Needless to say I was fuming - and I got some forms to fill in 'forms for compensation' and 'tell us your views'. I had to ensure Didcot station for 1 hr and 25 mins. I think I will introduce a how much time I spend at Didcot count and how much of my life I am spending there, although I think that will be depressing reading.


Journey to work punctuality: 87%, 33/38
Journey home punctuality: 79%, 30/38


FGW alerts:
1522 Pad-Oxf and 1705 Oxf-Pad cancelled. No futher major problems notified.
1545 Pad-Swansea cancelled. No futher notified cancellations. Possible delays due snow in S.Wales.

6, 7 and 8 Feb - Well done FGW

Feb 6 and 7 passed uneventfully, but the 8 Feb was the 'snow' day. I decided that it was worth a go at getting to work and so set off at the usual time. My train turned up on time, and my connecting train turned up on time at Didcot and we got to Oxford on time - amazing really.

The journey home was OK too. I caught the 1621 and caught my 2 connecting trains at Didcot and Swindon without any hitch.


Journey to work punctuality: 86%, 32/37
Journey home punctuality: 81%, 30/37


FGW alerts:
nothing of note, apart from all the warnings about possible disruption.

Monday, 5 February 2007

5 Feb - Fight for the Door! Tour of Didcot

Morning journey was OK. Only thing to note was that as the train was approaching Bath Spa someone called someone else a T**T. I am not sure who he was referring to but it might have been the short chap with the very large bag who scoffs yogurt with great gusto. We have observed that he is very keen to get on to the train and into his favourite seat. So keen that he will stop at nothing and no-one! DT got barged out of the ay twice by another bloke - it was OK though as he apparently this is what we are reduced to.

Evening journey was quite amusing. The first we heard was the train manager saying 'Don't panic, but...there is a points failure at Didcot so we have to bypass Didcot, change lines and then go back in.' We didn't mind as it whiled away the usual 35 mins we have to wait there anyway. Trains were about 10 mins late by the time we got into Bath, so that's a LATE!


Journey to work punctuality: 85%, 29/34
Journey home punctuality: 79%, 27/34


FGW alerts:
nothing of note.

2 Feb - Adelantes...

Friday was quite good aprat from we keep being put on Adelante trains, and I cannot touch the floor on these. Thie excuse is that the HSTs keep developing technical problems.


Journey to work punctuality: 85%, 28/33
Journey home punctuality: 82%, 27/33


FGW alerts:
nothing of note

Thursday, 1 February 2007

1 Feb - Other Fab Blogs; Nail Clipping on Trains?

For my regular readers, I apologise. It will take a while for me to get around to telling today's story.

Graham Ellis is still asking for support with his petition. Please sign. The petiton may be signed on line at As of 1.2.07 he has over 1500 signatures, making it eighth out of 370 petitions relating to Transport and Intfrastructure.

I have also learnt of some other fantastic blogs and websites. Please have a look at:

I Hate FGW
Great Western Sucks (see 15 Dec entry!)
Farce Great Western
Oldfield Park blog
Railvoice (a way to complain)
More Train Less Strain
Oxford Rail Action By a customer, for customers
Save The Train
Saltash Rail User's Group
Ivybridge Rail User's Group
Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways
Severn Tunnel Junction Campaign
North Devon Rail Users
Severside Rail Community Partnership Group

0642 turned up on time. Journey could have been boring if DT had not spotted the chap sitting clipping his nails with his shoes off. Fortunately, he was not clipping his toe nails. Still, I advise anyone not to get into carriage B and sit at one of the tables on the LHS of the train when travelling towards London, unless you are prepared to share the area with someone's nail clippings.

Got to Didcot at 0727, sat around for 25 mins waiting for the connecting train. This is normal, but a 25 min wait should not be nornal.

Caught the 1653 home. Got to OXF station and there were huge crowds of people. Apparently, there was a broken down train. I didn't get too wound up as I thought that it would mean less time waiting a Didcot. And that's a good thing. Got to Didcot 10 mins late (what a shame) so we went to the shop and then sat on the seats on the platform. Noticed that more seats had disappeared - where have they gone? Got on the BTM train, which had metamorphosized from an HST into an Adelante as the HST had 'technical problems at Paddington'. We're lucky to get seats. Had to change seats at Swindon as I am quite short and my feet are 3 inches off the floor on Adelantes and my left leg was beginning to ache due to lack of blood. (I really don't like those trains.) Some bloke was listening to his MP3 player, meanwhile his phone was ringing and vibtrating. (I think I might turn this into a most annoying habits on train column.) Got home to bath slightly early. Amazing.


Journey to work punctuality: 84%, 27/32
Journey home punctuality: 81%, 26/32


FGW alerts:
cannot be bothered to list them, they thought the network was perfect, little did they know of the goings on in Oxford, and our broken down train.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

31 Jan - Good Morning, Crowded and Late Evening

0642 turned up on time and I got to Didcot on time. Sat in Pumpkin Cafe doing things until Brenda appeared. We arrived into Oxford on time. A lovely morning, nice and sunny.

1621 left Oxford on time, but 1656 from Didcot to Swansea turned up a few mins late, and then we sat outside Swindon station for ages. Long enough to have a nice nap. We got chucked out on platform 3 (usually platform 4) at 1740, 25 mins late, and were met by a huge wall of people - 'eak! What's happened here?' Started making my way downstairs to platform 4 (usual platform for Bath train) but then go told it was on platform 3. Struggled back to platform 3: I carry a 10kg bike. Waited for a few mins then got on BTM train - it was heaving. But the bike comes in handy, sort of, if I hold it still nobody who does not want bruises will barge me out of the way (there was obviously not going to be enough seats for us all). I don't hit people with it, rather they walk into me in they get pushy. Arrived into Bath 15 mins LATE. Apparently, there were signalling problems around Swindon...

DT: you did not miss anything today!


Journey to work punctuality: 84%, 26/31
Journey home punctuality: 81%, 25/31


FGW alerts:
cannot be bothered to list them, they thought the network was perfect, little did they know of the goings on at Swindon.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

30 Jan - So Cruel! Pumpkin Cafe Waiting Room

hello. 0642 showed up and got to Didcot on time! Then we waited for 25 mins for the train to Oxford. 0754 left Oxford on time, which was the same time as the 0755 pulling into Didcot with Jolyon and David on it. We waved at them from the window. It ws doubly cruel as our train to Oxford then sat for 3 mins waiting for a Virgin train to go through. Why couldn't the train have left the platform only when it was clear passed next next signal, then Jolyon and David (and a whole host of other people) would have also got the train? Got to work on time.

1653 also left Oxford on time and then we waited for 35 mins in the Pumpkin Cafe. I pity the staff as it is our favourite waiting place at Didcot, with the real waiting rooms being rather cold, too metal and not large enough. Got home on time.


Journey to work punctuality: 83%, 25/30
Journey home punctuality: 83%, 25/30


FGW alerts:
0710 Bristol TM to Padd is canx. The 0629 Liskeard-Looe and 0701 Looe-Liskeard are canx. 0600 Swansea-Padd stops at Didcot. (Blimey!)
Full advertised service. No major problems reported.

Monday, 29 January 2007

29 Jan - Not a Good Start to the Week, Hanging Around

The 0642 was cancelled. At first it was delayed and then it was cancelled. No reason given. So then we had to wait for the 0707, but that was delayed as it couldn't leave Bristol until all the people on the 0630 from BTM go off and then got on to the 0655 (0707 from Bath). So we missed our original connection from Didcot and we were also late into Didcot for the next connection, usually we have to wait for 25 mins, but we only had to wait for 15 mins. I suppose that's a good thing really. Caught 0825 from Oxford (otherwise known as the second-most slowest train in the world). Got to work late.

Left work at 1635 and got 1653 to Didcot. Had to wait at Didcot for 35 mins. DT and I had quite tiring days so we bought a beer or two, and some crisps, and relaxed. 'Not Long til the Weekend!'. We only had to get 1 train from Didcot to Bath so rest of journey was OK. Got to Bath on time.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 83%, 24/29
Journey home punctuality: 83%, 24/29


FGW alerts:
0626 Hereford to Padd starts at Worcester SH. 0600 Moreton in Marsh starts Oxford.
Full advertsied service. No major problems reported.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

26 Jan - Morning Bliss, Evening Hell

Journey to work was OK. Got to work on time. Also, I only had to catch 2 trains.

However, journey home was not so good. I caught the early train so this meant getting 3 trains - on a Friday night! OXF-DID was OK, but trains from Didcot were a bit delayed. Our 1656 turned up at 1704. It was heaving. We stood in the vestibule area between the last cattle-class carriage and the buffet-soon-to-be-gone carriage. I was glad when we got to Swindon. I then waited for the delayed 1726 service to Bath. It was delayed by 10 mins. It was crowded but I managed to get a seat. Got home late, so that's another late to record.

The only good thing was that Brenda bought some nice red wine, which we drank, and so the horribleness of the 2 overcrowded fast trains was slightly dulled.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 86%, 24/28
Journey home punctuality: 82%, 23/28


FGW alerts:
0610 Chelt to Pad start Glouc, customers on 0604 Chelt and change at Gloucester. All other lines report good service. Visit for live updates.
Full advertised service. Delays between Chippenham and Bath due to points problem. Earlier bridge strike Slough now cleared.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

25 Jan - FGW 24 Jan Letter?, Didcot-Bath Not Allowed, First Bus Service


0642 turned up OK, and we got to Didcot OK. It stopped today! Got into work OK. Then went off to London and all worked OK. Super!

Left meeting and aimed to catch the 1600 to Bridgwater (stops at Bath). But hold on, it does not stop at Didcot and my ticket is Pad-DID then DID-Bath. mmm. OK, let's get on a train that stops at Swindon, then pick a Bath train up from there. OK. But as we approach Reading, paranoia steps in and as we were delayed by 10 mins (but I had not seen the Bath train overtake us) I thought I'd get off here and then get on to the Bath train at Reading. And if anyone checked my ticket and told me off for getting on a train that did not stop at Didcot, I'd just smile and act all innocent. To be honest, my brain hurt from thinking too much about which blinking train I needed to get on, be legal, and get home! In the end my ticket wasn't checked once! Arrived in Bath 10 mins late, so that's a late in my book. And I missed the bus.

Which brings me on my new topic of First buses in Bath. I had just missed one bus and started to wait for the next. I did think about walking but as the plumber was coming over I wanted to get home quickly.

So the bus arrived, and I asked how much to Lambridge. £1.60! I only had £1.40 in change. 'OK, how much to Ballustrade?' £1.60! 'OK, how far can I get for £1.40?' Hilton Hotel!!!!!! I told the bus driver that that was ridiculous and walked off the bus.

So I started walking. The bus finally overtook me at Morrisons, after about 1 mile and a quarter. OK, it beat me home by 10 mins, but I saved £1.60!!! I was tempted to get on at the Hilton Hotel (if I could have been bothered to wait for it) in the hope that the fare would have been 60p, but I doubt that somehow.

Back to the main issue, trains. Don Foster, my local MP has signed the Wessex Trains petition. Watch this space. He gave a speech in the House of Commons. My favourite bit was: 'The fare from Bath to London on the high-speed train is one of the highest priced train journeys per mile in the entire world.' Why is this?

I am also going to have to admit that I picked up a discarded letter off the ground near Oxford station this morning. It was a letter from FGW. It was wet and soggy, but as they did not have any dry copies to hand out, my ticket-check friend suggested I went into the ladies' loos and used the hand dryer to dry the letter. FGW said lots of things in the letter, like 'but we'll have leather seats, etc.,' but they also mentioned that they will lease some more units and FirstGroup are going to lend them some Class 158 units. Checking my Spotters Guide to Train Units in Reach magazine, I was a bit disappointed to see that they were the carriages for the slower services. Although, to be honest, they are probably needed more that more HST carriages, by the sound of things.

I never thought of myself as a potential train spotter. And I had never thought of any connection between the chaps who stand around Didcot with them camcorders (yes, the 21st century has reached train spotting) and myself.

Time to go.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 85%, 23/27
Journey home punctuality: 85%, 23/27


FGW alerts:
0730 Carmarthen to Padd, starts at Swansea, due to maintenance problems.
1545 Pad-Swansea cancelled. Train from Pad delayed in Reading area to due [sic] failed train London side of Reading.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

24 Jan - Our Lucky Day, On-Off-On-Off-On-Off, Wessex Trains Petition

hello. 0642 turned up and stopped at Didcot today - many people asked the train manager to ensure it did though, after yesterday. After last night's disappointment at us not being clever enough to get home for 1800, we were pleased to see that the 0714 DID-OXF was delayed, so as soon as our train pulled into DID, we hopped on to this one and got into work 25 mins early. Although we're weren't as disappointed as Alma who did not get home til 1945 (as she had an unexpected visit to Bristol Parkway) and had to sit on the floor on the train as there were no seats.

Journey home was OK but it sure is tedious having to catch 3 trains to go 75 miles.

Graham Ellis of Save the Train is leading a petition to the Prime Minister concerning train services in the South West of England, with special concentration on the "Wessex" area and
the TransWilts service. I have signed the petition, and so should you (please)!

The petition is an "official" one on the No. 10 Downing Street web site; it's at and we're promised that it will be looked at and each signatory will receive an emailed response/answer once it closes in 3 weeks' time.

The background ... last December, new timetables were introduced by the First Group at the behest/specification of the Department for Transport that drastically reduced many service - in Graham's case, the schedule of trains calling at Melksham was cut from 10 a day to 4. And that's in spite of greatly increased train use over the last five years.

He now has inconvenient and unusable services in some areas, dreadfully overcrowded ones in others - and a horrendous reliability problem too. Have a look at his "Worst train in the West" post, for example:

The petition asks for the return of an appropriate service on all the lines with trains based in Bristol. He is not asking for what WAS there before - but for a service for the future that caters for traffic flows that went by rail until December, and for new ones for the future. If you're from another part of the South West / FGW area / UK, you can support us too - the same story has been repeated from Saltash to Slough, from Ealing to Exmouth and from Iver to Ivybridge.

And .. PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO YOUR FAMILY, FRIENDS, FELLOW TRAVELLERS and COLLEAGUES. And write to the key players who are listed here:

and visit our forum to support us, learn more ...

Graham says that most of his website's visitors, who used to travel by train, now drive!


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 86%, 22/26
Journey home punctuality: 88%, 23/26


FGW alerts:
(These are brief as my husband lost my first draft and I am doing this from memory.)
No infrastructure problems. Check website
Full advertised service. No further problems following signal/points problem earlier.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

23 Jan - Trip to Reading, Damm, Missed that One, They Edited My Comment


Just when I tought it was all going to get boring, when we get so much excitement on just one day.

0642 turned up on time and was going to stop at Didcot on time - and at this point I was a bit disappointed that we weren't going to be late into Didcot as we had a 25 min wait ahead of us - when the train slowed down, after the train manager annoucing that those for Oxford should change at Didcot, and the platform kept coming, and coming, and then it went. So we were then on our way to Reading. oh well, it was sunny, it's lovely countryside...

So we arrive at Reading, found the train manager and asked what went wrong. Apparently, train driver aren't given timetables, they are given schedules, and ours had an old schedule. (If this worked in reverse we could have the old timeatable back.) So she (the lady train driver) did not stop at Didcot. Funny how she slowed down though - as if there was something going through her mind, but she couldn't quite think what it was.

We were lucky, we only had to wait a few mins (after questioning the train manager, who was quite a way from the train at this point - do you think he could have been disassociating himself from it?). We boarded a Reading-Oxford train and arrived into Oxford only 5 mins later than when we should have done. Poor people who had to travel back to Didcot, it took them 1 hour!

Journey how so of uneventful, apart from a lovely young chappy from the Didcot dispatch team giving us a top tip on how to get home to Bath 30 mins early, but it was late and I wasn't convinced and DT didn't quite hear me. Nevermind. We consoled ourselves with beer and pringles.

Got home on time, but was disappointed to see that the comment I left on the Times website had been edited down to:

Great comment, Tim. I am a FGW annual ticket holder (Bath-Oxford route, every day) and all that you say is far too familiar. I'd like to know who requested the trolley service - we cannot see it working as with all the people standing in the aisles and verstibule areas, how is it going to move? My favourite alternative name for FGW is Worst Great Festering. And if FGW do not revert back to the old timetable, it looks like the name will be appropriate!


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 84%, 21/25
Journey home punctuality: 88%, 22/25


FGW alerts:
0545 BTM to Fareham terminate Westbury. 0622Pad to Oxf canx. No infrastructure problems reported.
Full advertised service. No major problems reported. 20 mph limit west of Reading. Minro delays to some services from Pad.
1836 Pad-Oxf canx. Due to shortage of serviceable trains. Apologies.

Monday, 22 January 2007

22 Jan - Switch for Heat at Didcot, Times Article About FGW

0642 turned up on time. It was very busy and there was a short delay in getting to Didcot, but that was good for us as it meant our 25 minute wait was only 10 mins. Got into Oxford on time.

Caught 1621 home, the train to Swindon, and then the next one to BTM were slightly delayed. It was very cold and since both platform 1 and the waiting room were crowded, Alma and I went into the Pumpkin Cafe on platform 2/3.

One exciting discovery was that a lady pointed out to us the switch for the heater in the waiting room on platform 1 at Didcot. I suppose we'll have to ring up the station as we're leaving Oxford to ensure that the brick walls (no plaster or paint) and the metal seats (no expense spared) warm up before we get there.

Alma pointed out that there was a good article in The Times today: 'To hell with the coffee. Just make the train run' at,,3284-2559212,00.html


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 83%, 20/24
Journey home punctuality: 87.5%, 21/24


FGW alerts:
0545 BTM to Fareham is canx. No other reported problems.
Full advertised service. No major problems reported.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

19 Jan - Return of DT, How to Make Friends on Trains

Difficult to know what to say, really. The only excitement of the morning is that DT is back and nearly well again! The 0642 turned up on time, and arrived at Didcot on time, then we waited in the Pumpkin Cafe for 25 mins. I did learn that we should not sit on the table nearest the door as there's a great big draft there. Alam said that she actually got home 10 mins earlier than normal last night, which is quite amazing with the disruption we had. I got home 55 mins, so I was a bit miffed. Cannot complain, though, as some people in Wiltshire had no trains on Thursday!

Coming home was much more interesting. Again, it was Firday night and it was my turn to bring refreshments. We started puring the wine into the plastic cups at Oxford as it'd been a long week. We felt much better by the time we got to Didcot. Another top-up at Didcot, and we felt even better by the time the train arrived (I think it was on time). Got on train, but it was rather crowded, but we found seats relatively close together. Another top-up, and then I set my phone alarm so that it would wake me up before Swindon, just in case I fell asleep. (Although I thin kBrenda would have ensured I got off the train, especially after last week!) However, didn't fall asleep as I got chatting to a bloke. He kept staring at my wine cup, longingly, so I asked him if he'd like some too. Then we got chatting about Bath. Soon the train reached Swindon and Alma and I got off so that we could catch our connecting train. That one was delayed by 10 mins, so we waited in the much nicer waiting room (than they have a Didcot). So, train turned up, we got on and found a seat, again it was crowded. Got to Bath a few mins late.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 83%, 19/23
Journey home punctuality: 87%, 20/23


FGW alerts:
Following severs disruption to the train service on Thurs 18 due to extreme weather, FGW anticipate a near full morning service. Customers are advised to check before they travel in the morning.
0730 Swansea-Pad and 0700 Pad-Bristol are cancelled. 0540 Cheltenham-Pad will start at Swindon.
Full advertised service . Signal problems between Cardiff and Bridgend. No furhter reported problems.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

18 Jan - 50 mph is Quicker Than We Usually Travel, Planes, Train and Automobiles (or should that be taxi, train, bus, car)

What a day!

0642 turned up on time, fab. Got to Didcot on time, then waited for 0754, and waited, and waited. OK, it turned up at 0800 and left at 0802...we got on train and everyone was there: me, Alma, DW, Brenda, Lesley, Jolyon, friendly chap, plus 2 other friendly chaps. We had a half-carriage all to ourselves. After a mile or so the Train Manager announced that the blanket speed ban was now in place: 'due to the speed ban we can now only do 50 mph'. Our resounding response was: 'well, that'll be 15 mph quicker than we normally travel', followed by some cheers and laughter. So we all arrived at Oxford in good humour.

In the afternooon I got a message from a colleague who said that the line was blocked between Oxford and Didcot so I thought that I would catch the 1621 train just in case the journey home was going to take hours (or more hours than it normally takes). Got to the station and I bumped onto my new pal Glyn Beck, area manager. He put me and another bloke into a taxi, so off I went to Didcot, via Culham. I was a bit concerned, as I had spotted Alma approaching Oxford station just as I was leaving in a taxi, and I thought she would be stranded there for ages. However, it turned out that while we were doing the pretty tour of Oxfordshire a train had appeared and Alma had reached Didcot before me! In fact, she had got on to the train that was standing on the platform when I arrived on the platform, but which did not let me on! Boy, I was annoyed. However, since she got to Swindon before Bath re-opened, she may have then had to get on a bus to Bath. The Dispatch Team person said the next train to BTM would arrive in 10 mins, so that shut me up. However, it was 55 mins later that a train turned up.

Meanwhile, I bumped into Uma and then Angus and then Jolyon. There was a big debate as all the BTM trains said that they were not stopping at Chippers or Bath as both stations were closed (Chippers roof had fallen off and Bath station had had structural damage..), so we were totally confused. The screen said that the next train was our train but then the next train was a Swansea train. To be honest, the screen was totally knackered as the 1711 to BTM suddenly became the 1707, then the 1741 appeared to overtake the 1707. At 1755 at train to BTM turned up. Of course, there were no seats free, so Jolyon and I stood until Sunny Swindon. Top tip: it is always best to stand in the middle of a carriage on a crowded train as you stand (no pun intended) more chance of getting a seat when the train stops at the next station.

The train made good time and I got into Bath at 1855, so journey was 55 mins longer than usual. This is pretty good considering what had happened. BUT, because the info screens were rubbish and there was a complete lack of communication, I am awarding this a 'late' badge.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 82%, 18/22
Journey home punctuality: 86%, 19/22


FGW alerts:
Customers should visit before travelling.
After warnings from the Met Office a reduced service will run on high speed routes today (that's not the OXF-DID route then?!)
All routes severley disrupted. Pls check for details

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

17 Jan - Monsieur Hulot's Holiday 2, Meet the Managers

First of all, we met Glyn Beck at Oxford today, he is the regional manager. He says email Richard Green about the trains, not Andrew Griffiths! It took him a while to remember who Andrew was. I am sure it'll be OK if you have emailed Andrew, but I have re-sent my comments to Richard as well (

It is so lovely to be able to get on a train at 0642 and not have to get off until Didcot. So first part of journey went OK today, and it was great to see that Alma has come back from her hols. We arrived at Didcot on time, and initially we thought it was our lucky day as there was a train to Oxford on Platform 5 (delayed 0714). We ran over there, no mean feat with a 10kg folding bike and got on the train. After 30 secs we were told to get off the train as it was terminating at Oxford. Apparently, there was a points problem. So we went back to platform 3 and the Pumpkin Cafe (they must be raking it in with the new timetable, good job they don't sell alcohol!). Who should we bump into in the Cafe, Lesley! So we had another good old winge about the trains. Then at 0736 we were told that a train to Oxford would appear soon on platform 3 at 0740 (this is the one that goes from Padders to Oxford via only Reading, grrr). Then we were told that the train was not going to appear. So then we went into the small room by the loos. Then an HST appeared on platform 3, which probably was the train they thought was going to appear, but really it was terminating at Oxford so all those people had to get off. Then we were told that our 0754 train would depart from platform 5. So off we went: this is the 3 train-loads of passengers (0714, 0754 and the PAD-OXF ghost train that showed up). Train left a few mins late, but got to work on time.

Decided to catch 1621 train home. It was Meet the Managers at Oxford today. Saw Angus chatting to Glyn Beck, so I joined in, then Alma appeared, then Lesley appeared. The scarey thing was Glyn seemed to know which train I catch home....I hope he hasn't been listening to us.

Got to Didcot OK, bumped into Janet. Caught Swansea train and got off at Swindon. Our BTM-bound was delayed by about 10-15 mins, but I think I got home on time. It was all a bit of a blur by then.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 81%, 17/21
Journey home punctuality: 90%, 19/21


FGW alerts:
Cheltenham to Swindon line remains closed with landslip at Kemble until end of week. Bus service in plcae. No other problems (oops, forgot to tell us about he huge points failure near Oxford).
Some residual delays this afternoon due to earlier signal failure at Southall. Short noticealterations may occur. Line remains closed Cheltenham to Swindon due to landslip. Bus replacement in operation.
Kemble line is planned to re-open at 0600 on Thursday morning.
Weather warning. Rail services may be affected after 0900 Thursday morning due to severe weather. Check WEB for further updates.
After further warnings from The Met Office it is now planned to run a reduced service on some high-speed routes before 0900 Thursday.
Customers should visit before travel on Thursday morning.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

16 Jan - It stopped at Didcot, FGW Thinks That The Whole World Works in London

Blimey, the 0642 turned up on time and stopped at Didcot. Chatted to chap with large bag and laptop, at Bath. He mentioned a good train site - no, not numbers, stats on train delays! It's at This is what they are about: is a free service with the sole aim of bringing commuters together, enabling them to submit delays online as they occur and then help them make the claims by emailing a claim form. All you have to do is 'Register' with us to start using this service and then express your frustration with your rail operator by submitting a delay and making that claim. Don't let them get away with a shoddy service, the only way to make a difference is to hit their profits!

Yes! I think that this is a must for the people who catch the 1721 from Oxford.

Back to the 0642, it was absolute bliss not having to change. OK, I was still going to have to wait for 25 mins at Didcot, but I didn't have to change trains - yippee.

Arrived Didcot and bumped into Lesley. oh dear, something's gone wrong. Due to the landslide near Kemble, Lesley's train was late and she missed the connection to the 0714 at Didcot. More faffing about at Swindon - they let a Reading-Padders train go in front of a Padders-bound train that stops at Didcot - boo.

So they we were, Lesley had an audience, I had to stroke her arm to calm her down. Quite entertaining really. Didcot Dispatch Team - big tip, don't let London-bound trains sit on OUR platform in front of Lesley for 9 mins, making our connecting train late; please choose another platform, either 2 or 4 would have been a good choice.

Got into work on time, although train arrived in Oxford a couple of mins late.

Journey home OK. Caught 1653 and bumped into Jolyon. So we went to the Pumpkin Cafe and set up shop again. 1741 was on time, and amazingly the 1721 connected with it tonight. So I think that is 6 in 19 attempts that it has worked? DW was one of those lucky few who managed to connect, so we sat near each other, traded pieces of orange, commented on strange noises that sounded like a bit of the train had fallen off, etc.

Got home on time, and the double-bonus was that Ross Noble's new series has started on Radio 4 at 1830. What could you want more to round off a day at the office?


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 80%, 16/20
Journey home punctuality: 90%, 18/20


FGW alerts:
Landslip nr Kemble service alterations apply and road transport operates between Chelt/Glouces and Swindon.
Line closed Swindon to Gloucester due to lanslip. Road transport Swindon-Gloucester/Chelt. No further problems.

Monday, 15 January 2007

15 Jan - cancellations, not a good start, first class at the front

I was getting so excited - the 0642 was going to call at Didcot this morning for the first time since December 7. However, that 'Blue Glow' greeted me as I approached the station at Bath. Every commuter dreads the Blue Glow. It was cancelled, so I sat there for 25 mins reading the Metro. There were SO MANY people on the platform too. Managed to get a seat, though, phew. Met Sara and DW on the train and we got to Didcot on time. We then sat around in the Pumpkin Cafe analysing the train system, again. Got to work at 0900, I'll have to have 30 mins for lunch.

Journey home OK. Got to Didcot on time and went in the Pumpkin Cafe. Waited for 35 mins then went on to Platform 1 to get the Bath train. Amazingly, the 1721 from OXF connected witht he 1741 today, that's 28% success rate! One smaill thing: First Class was at the front - I like it this way around as I don't have to walk as far when I get into Bath.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 79%, 15/19
Journey home punctuality: 89%, 17/19


FGW alerts:
0545 BRI-F'ham term @ W'bury. 0526 Glos-W'bury canx. 0723 W'minster-C'diff ter @ BRI (....and last but not least) 0710 BRI-PAD canx (why bother having this train? Has it ever run?)
(They forgot to let me know about the 0630 from BRI.)
Full advertised service. Delays in South Wales due to trespass incident between Cardiff & Bridgend.

Friday, 12 January 2007

12 Jan - near-visit to South Wales, red wine, last morning workout

Caught 0642, 0718, 7054, al rather boring really. Last time (I hope) that I'll have to change in the mornings at Swindon). But still got to OXF a couple of mins late.

Journey home was MUCH more interesting. Caught the 1621 and had arranged with Brenda, being 'Friday Night is Drinks Night', that she was to bring refreshments. Refreshments turned out to be a nice bottle of red wine. Of course we didn't open it until we got to Didcot, on time, and had to wait 16 mins for our connecting train. Lesley joined us tonight - nice to see her again, she's such an early bird, we don't often bump into each other. So we boarded the train, had some more wine, chatted to a nice bloke about gin and tonic on the train and that you'd have to buy 2 as 1 wouldn't be quite enough. We toasted DT's good health (hope you're better next week!).

Got to Swindon (this is where my fun started). Brenda asked me if I'd like a top up as I was staying on the train and she and Lesley both lived in Swindon. I said I'd love one and started drinking, got settled in again, considered moving next to the gin and tonic bloke...when I suddenly realised, I had to get off the train as this one was going to Swansea. (I don't have to change on the late train but I do on this one.) A few naughty words passed my lips, and I picked up my timetable print-out, my bag, my glass of wine and my bike and legged it off the train. Blimey, I was lucky. We'd been sitting there for a few mins.

Three minutes later the train to Bath turned up, so got on that (after having to drink the wine for medicinal purposes due to the shock of nearly ending up in South Wales, although I did my degree in Cardiff and it is a very lovely place). Collapsed in a seat and started doing the Friday Sudoku. I could not have been that tiddly as I completed it and we all know that the Friday Sudoku is the killer one!

The journey between Swindon and Chippers was rather slow, there was some problem at Wootten Bassett. Had to laugh (with the chappy next to me) when the Train Manager announced that he 'apologised to the delay'. Well, that's all very well, but he could apologise to us too. Arrive Bath 8 mins late, but fortunately I was listening to Ross Noble and then Bob Dylan so arrived home chilled.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 83%, 15/18
Journey home punctuality: 89%, 16/18


FGW alerts:
0548 Ply-Pad and the 0710 Bri-Pad are cancelled. (No surprise there then.)
0544 Hereford-Pad will start Worcester SH.
Full advertised service. (That's hopeful, isn't it?)

Thursday, 11 January 2007

11 Jan - 4 out of 11, only 2 days left, overcrowded train

Out of chronological order, but most important news is that:

1. the 1721 OXF-DID connection worked for 4 attempts out of 11 attempts. Is that a record?
2. the 0642 from Bath to Padders WILL stop at Didcot from Monday. :-)) So only 2 more days of morning hell, and just the evening hell to suffer.

Back to reality though....

0642 was on time toady, and it got to Swindon on time, and I got the correct connection, and it got to Didcot on time, and the other train came in on time, and it left on time. That's how it should work, I suppose?

Journey home, as per usual. Got on 1653, met Brenda and DW, got to Didcot, went to Pumpkin Cafe, set up camp for 35 mins, we ate a packet of ham, a packet of mini-eggs and a Freddo Frog chocolate bar. Quite healthy really. Train arrived at about 1735, early, fought our way on as there were loads of student-tourist people. DW and I found seats but not together. Got to Bath a few minutes late. Was on the verge of awarding this trip a 'late' badge when I tuned into Ross Noble on my iRiver, which cheered me up and made me laugh. The only good thing about getting into Bath at 1830 is that you tune into the 1830 Radio comedy programme, so you get home all giggly. Sue Perkins was on it tonight and was recounting her tale about getting from Penzance to London on a FGW train. The two 'services' to London were cancelled, so she said, and when she asked, she was answered with, in a broad Cornish accent, 'there's been a problem in England'. :-) Well, that's a new one.

And today was the big meeting with the Mps and FGW...would have liked to have been a fly on the wall.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 82%, 14/17
Journey home punctuality: 88%, 15/17


FGW alerts:
Services between Newport and Swindon are affected by flooding. Please contact Nat Rail on 08457484950 for further details.
S.Wales route reopened between Swindon and Bristol PW following floods. Some delays. 1500 Pad-BTM cancelled.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

10 Jan 2007 - Monsieur Hulot's Holiday, 'A Result', Decision of the Day, Desks at Didcot

I have decided to do keywords. Just in case you have not got time to read the whole entry for the day. I have to say, though, they may not in any particular order: alphabetical or chronological.

Decided that it would be nice to get into work for 0830 so caught the 0642 again. I was filled with impending doom before I left my home, see the FGW text below concerning flooding in the Severn Tunnel. I knew this would happen! Train left Bath on time, got to Swindon on time. But then chaos. The trains from South Wales were delayed by about 50 mins. I go on the 0629 train (in reality 0720) on Platform 1. I'd just got comfy and we were told that the driver needed his statutory 10 min break and so the train would be sitting there for 10 mins. 10 mins? I couldn't wait, I had to 'keep moving' as DW keeps telling us to do. So we were advised to get on to the 0718 (usuall connecting train). So over to Platform 3 then...hence the reference to Monsieur Hulot's holiday. (A film by Jacques Tati.)

Got to Didcot in time for the connection to the 0754. 0754 arrived at 0745, as usual, and we sat there, and sat there, until 0804!!!! So I am classifying this as late. We had to wait for a Virgin train (why both as they are already late, and a freight train, well they don't ahve to be anywhere on time do they??).

One interesting thing that I read in the Metro this morning is that UK commuters travel 20 mins more in 2005 than they did in 1995. I hope they took my stats into account: I travel 60 mins more per day since Dec 05!

Home journey was quite interesting. I heard that from Monday 15 Jan the 0642 will stop a Didcot! yes, yes, yes, yes! I should be able to get to work for 0830 with only 1 change. Christmas has eventually arrived.

Got 1653 from OXF with Brenda and DW and we chatted about what we shold say in our letters to FGW next week. Got to DID and went to Pumpkin Cafe, and bumped into Angus. Had another good winge about the trains and decided the we should bring along a pencil pot, a picture of a loved one and other desk-related furntiture, and set up a desk at Didcot (as we seem to spend a long time doing work there), then someone take a picture. Oh what larks it would be.

Angus also told me about his journey from Monday night when he got on the advertised 1721 from OXF expecting to get the 1741, as per FGW timetable. In reality, the 1721 did not get to DID in time, no surprise there, so he had to wait for 1 hour for the next Bath train, but the 1841 was over 25 mins late! He thinks he got back into Bath at 1945. So it took him 2.5 hours to travel 70 miles. Shocking.

After the 35 min wait, we went to Platform 1, got on train and into Volo carriage. What IS the point of these? The seats are too far apart, the seats are too short (even for my short legs) and there are NO TV screens! What is the point of an interactive TV carriage, without the screens? Nice green seats? Got home OK.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 81%, 13/16
Journey home punctuality: 87.5%, 14/16


FGW alerts:
The Swansea to Padd route is being affected by flooding. Service alterations will apply.
S. Wales route - flooding. XX15 from Pad will call at Bristol Parkway. XX45 from Pad will NOT call Bristol PW.
Flooding will still affect S. Wales services Thursday morning with reduced services and diversions.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

9 Jan 2007 - Trees on Line, Didcot Time Trials, Slow Trains

Wanted to get into work early today, so caught the 0642. Blimey, why did I bother? The 0642 was delayed as 'there were trees on the line at Bradford on Avon' so a special service to Weymouth had to go in front of our London train. Two things: trees on the line, well that is one up from leaves on the line, but I was surprised that one of the precious London trains was held up by a Weymouth train. 0642 finally arrived and left Bath at 0655, 13 mins late. Had to consult the new timetable to see which connection I could now get at Swindon so I would get to Didcot for the 0754 to Oxford since I would miss the usual one, of course, I was assuming that I would get to Didcot in time! It was a bit stressful but got on the 0724, which arrived at 0729, and arrived at Didcot in time for 0754. Got to Oxford on time. Although I don't like the stress of catching 3 trains: getting one on time train is good, but three...

Journey home OK. 1653 left Oxford on time. Only decision to make was what to do with the 35-minute wait, which I'd have to spend alone as I could see none of the usual gang. I decided to do a time-trial. I thought it should be possible to be able to cycle to Sainsburys, do a quick shop and get back in time. It took 7 mins to cycle there and back, add on 5 mins faff time, 10 min shop time and that still leaves 13 mins over. Taking this to the next stage is to actually go inside the shop and buy something!

I looked out for the 1721 from Oxford today, to see if it connected with its advertised friend the 1741. I didn't see it. If there's anyone out there who catches this connection, some stats to send the to the FGW bods would be great.

As we approached Bath we got held up by another slow train from the 'country' line - what is going on?


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 87%, 13/15
Journey home punctuality: 87%, 13/15


FGW alerts:
0710 BTM-PAD cancelled. 0723 Warminster to Cardiff terminates at BTM.
Full advertised service, no problems reported (well that will be comfort to the 1721-ers)

Monday, 8 January 2007

8 Jan 2007 - Consultation Contact, Free Drinks

We have until 18 January to get our views on the Dec 06 timetable to Andrew Griffiths. Email him on

Is was just too much to get to the station for 0642 on a Monday morning, so caught the 0707. Saw DW briefly at Didcot, after the 25 min wait, but he got on another carriage. So a quiet morning, but the train arrived on time.

Caught the 1653 back with DW and we sat in the Pumpkin cafe again for 35 mins. Did lots of work and pondering. Treated ourselves to a free hot choc and coffee, courtesy of the Forward club. Got home OK.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 86%, 12/14
Journey home punctuality: 86%, 12/14


FGW alerts:
0745 PNZ to PAD cancelled. Planned cancellations to some services in West of England region. Please see website for more info.
1600 PAD-Taunton cancelled due to mechanical problems. Disruption between Taunton and Tiverton due to earlier fatality.

5 Jan 2007 - Train Crew Problems, Drinks all round

I made the effort to catch the 0642 today. A good decision as I bumped into an annoyed DT at Swindon. He had caught the 0612 from Bath but due to 'train crew' problems, which became 'driver shortages' his train was very late. So we caught the same connection at Swindon. It was his first day back so he was too tired to get stressed about it all. I tried the new back route to work and got in at 0830.

Journey home was fun: met Brenda and DT at Oxford. We decided it was my turn to buy the drinks, so we treated ourselves to Kronenbourg lager at Didcot. Trains were on time.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 85%, 11/13
Journey home punctuality: 85%, 11/13


FGW alerts:
0723 Warminster to Cardiff will terminate at Bristol. 0755 PLY to NWQ cancelled.
0710 BTM to PAD cancelled. (3rd time in 4 days!)
Cancellations: 1530 Pad-BTM, 1552 Swindon-Chelt, 1728 Chelt-Westbury. N o further notified problems.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

4 Jan 2007 - Price of Tickets, Has the 1721 ever connected with the 1741?

It's nearly becoming a routine. Caught 0707, waited for 15 mins at Didcot for 0825 to Oxford. Why does a train arrive at 0815 if it is not going to depoart until 0825? Cannot it not just leave early so we get to work earlier? Train smelt of wee. Smell was made better by bumping into my new Newport-OXF friend, who makes this trek once a week. She reported that a lady at the Newport ticket office had told her that the £36 saver fare to Oxford did not now exist, and she had to pay £96. Fortunately, for my new friend she had a brain and decided to buy a saver ticket to Swindon (a place to which you can buy a saver ticket apparently!), then she got an extension to OXF on the train. Apparently, there have been computer problems this week. Adds to the list I suppose.

Journey home was OK. Met DW, winged some more about trains, sat in Pumpkin cafe on Platform 2/3 for 40 mins (that's 55 mins I have spent in there today). Caught 1741 to Bath. Got home a few mins early, although I have to say that as we approached Swindon, the Train Manager told us we were early and would be sitting there for a few minutes, when actually, we arrived on time and left 1 min 10 secs late. Yes, we are sad to notice such things, but this is what happens to you when your train timetable is messed up and you 'do time' at Didcot.

One final note, for the lovely person who posted a comment yesterday, the 1721 OXF-DID connection worked today. So that must be 3 out of 7 attempts?? Well done FGW.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 83%, 10/12
Journey home punctuality: 83%, 10/12


FGW alerts:
The 0450 BTM to PADand the 0825 BTM to CDF both cancelled. 0755 PLYto NWQ will terminate PAR.
Cancelled 1830 Pad- Bristol TM, 1552 Swindon-Chelt, 1728 Chelt-Westbury, 1633 Pad-Exeter not call Hungerford.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

3 Jan 2007 - Late Trains, Wingeing, Price of tickets from Bath

Caught the 0707 again but was not as lucky. The 0754 had already left by the time our train arrived into Didcot, so we had to wait 25 mins for the 0825 slow coach to Oxford. I bumped into Sara today, which was nice as I had not seen her for a while. She reported that the day return fare had gone up to just over £30! Apparently, a year ago it was £18.60. That's an increase of 61%. Arrived at work on time. Caught the 1653 home. Saw DW at Oxford station and he called me a luminescent gnome: I think it was his way of saying he was pleased to see me. It was nice to see DW again after the Xmas break and he told me that after my text on Tues, he had signed up to the FGW alerts as well.

When we got to Didcot, we bumped into Angus who felt the same way we did about the new timetable. It looked like the 1656 to Swansea was coming in very soon, so we decided to 'keep moving' and go to Swindon. However, by the time we got to Platform 1 it had been delayed even more to 1730 and we also met a very annoyed Brenda. Poor Brenda had caught the 1620 from Oxford and had been sitting there for ages. She managed to get on the very late Swansea train to Swindon. We decided to wait for the 1741 train to BTM as we would not have to change trains. (What HAS happened to the 'sorry', 'very sorry' annoucements?)

In the meantime we had a jolly good winge at the new timetable, decided how FGW could run a better rail system, decided what they should do with the mad person who designed the timetable (apparently it was done by a human this time, hence it does not work; the previous working timetable was done by a machine). Someone said that FGW had a message on their website saying that they were aware of the problems with the new timetable. It's at:

mmm, let's see what they do.

I especially liked this bit: 'Whilst not wishing to promise something we cannot deliver, the purpose of this note is to assure you we have a team of people looking at what may be possible for early in the New Year.'

I agree Brenda L, it's best if you don't promise to deliver anything, you have trouble delivering the trains. Also, I hope the team of people are different to the team you used when making the new timetable. Finally, early in the New Year

It took ages for us to get to Swindon, not sure why as nobody told us, but as soon as we had got to Swindon and departed there, the Train Manager thought it was safe to come and check our tickets. DW and I went and sat in D carriage and treated ourselves to a free coffee and a very expensive bag of saugage and mustard chips (aka crisps). Arrived into Bath 10 mins late, but 'Down the Line' was on Radio 4, which is very funny and made me laugh, so I forgot how annoyed I was at getting home late.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 82%, 9/11
Journey home punctuality: (only just) 82%, 9/11


FGW alerts:
0710 BRI-PAD cancelled. (Again?)
Delays into Pad caused by earlier points probs at Southall and signal probs at Didcot. Some reactionary delays from Pad.

2 Jan 2007 - Safe Bet, Nice Waiting Rooms at Swindon

After reading the FGW alerts over the Xmas period, I thought it best not to take too many chances, so I chose to take the 0707 from Bath today. What luck! It arrived on time, I met Brenda on the train (nice to see her again after Xmas), and we got to Didcot (with no changing) and the 0754 was sitting on platform 3 ready for us to jump on to it. Brill. Got to Oxford at 0815 and into work not long after. Caught the 1620 home, which was on time, then got the 1656 from Didcot to Swindon, then got the 1726 from Swindon to Bath. Bit of a faff but they do have nice warm waiting rooms at Swindon (unlike Didcot). And the trains were on time. And I bumped into an old friend from my Bath-Swindon commuting days. All round a good start to the New Year.


Journey to work/meeting punctuality: 80%, 8/10
Journey home punctuality: 80%, 8/10


FGW alerts:
0505 to Padd from PNZ will start PLY. The 0710 from BTM to PAD cancelled. (oops, that's DW's train, better text him!)
Cancellations - 1530 Swansea-Pad 1806 Pad-Frome, 1915 Pad-Swansea. Apologies, Due to traincrew resourcing probs)