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.