First Great Western incompetence and the case for money back

Sorry for the non-Scandi post but I’ve had so many problems recently with First Great Western trains from Hungerford (where I live) to London Paddington that I really don’t see a more appropriate outlet for venting my anger, dissatisfaction and frustration with their services.

It’s 6.24am on a Monday morning when I’m writing this after the 5.46am to London has (once again) been cancelled. The difference this time being that they have been generous enough to cancel all services indefinitely – apparently due to problems stemming from yesterday’s engineering work.

A season ticket from Hungerford to London including underground zones costs an eye-watering GBP493 a month (it’s about 64 miles between the two places). I make it at least half a dozen times that this train has been cancelled since they ambitiously put the new 0546 service in place in May. The question is simple: if they can’t run this service properly why did they bother to reschedule it? The first London service in place prior to this, the 0601, was not perfect, but I don’t remember that many cancellations in a year and a half of using it (never mind four-and-a-bit months).

I am sick and tired of this incompetence and my frustration and my stress levels are compounded on two new fronts this morning.

Firstly, I am due to be going on holiday tomorrow (I’m staying at Stansted Airport tonight, assuming FGW actually runs a train that enables me to get into London for my connection, never mind into work). What if my flight had been today and not tomorrow? As far as I can see, FGW has (once again) made no effort to lay on replacement buses. I’m not interested in hearing why they can’t do it at short notice etc. etc. They serve the public and this is blatantly letting us down. They should have the contingency measures in place.

Secondly, I was due to do some extra work today and get some money as a result. Due to this fiasco, I’m now going to be staying late in the office just to make time up – it’s highly unlikely I’ll do anything that can be defined as payable overtime.

I badly needed to do that work. Why should I suffer? Why should I be that bit closer to the poor house? Why should FGW think that underwriting everything with an apology is enough? Why should my fellow commuters suffer? Why should they have to text into work again and again to explain their delays and risk looking stupid because of the incompetence of someone else?

I’m writing to FGW once I’m back from holiday (if I even make it on the plane at this rate) and letting them know about the amount of overtime I missed out on and how much I would have earned. I’m expecting amends on this front. That’s without the compelling case for FGW increasing the discount it gives on season tickets after a certain amount of delays (GBP25 on a GBP493 season ticket from Hungerford at the moment – therefore a discounted ticket comes in at GBP468).

I’m fed up but I don’t see why I should be consigned to impotent anger. People have suggested I should use this blog to write about this issue. Until I can get another blog underway (which I would prefer to making this one a more generic one) I think that makes a lot of sense…

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3 thoughts on “First Great Western incompetence and the case for money back

  1. Well said. I had a similar issue a couple of weeks ago when it took two hours to get to Newbury. After 3 hours in transit I decided to go home (which took about 10 mins). Plus a million other things wrong with FGW. Just set up a template letter and send it every time there is a problem (ie about 3 times a week).

  2. The problem this morning was Network Rail not finishing their engineering work on time. They should have handed back the track to FGW at 5am, but appear to now be saying it won’t be open until 5pm. What should fgw do exactly?

    • How about being realistic about the fact that there have been untold problems with early morning services on this line since at least May that have little or nothing to do with Network Rail and starting to make some proactive contingency measures? And how about more rigorous attempts to co-ordinate its public announcements and information? That would at least minimise all the numerous shabby developments in evidence witnessed on this particular day – among them the 0734 being advertised as running then not running then running then not running again. If NR really are the villains of this piece then FGW did its damnedest to prove otherwise..

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