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fiftyfour fiftyfour

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  1. This is VERY worrying. The Mark Hopwood fan club thinks he is great, he himself thinks he has "turned it around" and "has sorted it out" so the ills are blamed on Network Rail, ROSCOs, DfT or anyone else but themselves. I worked for the old FGW structure for six years until 2006 and left to work for another operator and I could see it was getting worse then- we were getting flak almost daily from the passengers and I watched the quality of the product take a nosedive despite our best efforts. You will always get a few awkward squad in any organisation but I don't recognise a "f*** 'em" culture among the train crews- conversely I'm constantly told "we used to sign those or we used to go there but they took that off us". GWR has chosen to create an inflexible workforce, it has not provided sufficient incentive to crews to work Sundays or come up with a deal that comes close to what they deserve to bring Sundays inside the working week, it has barely got enough crews to run a reduced service on the other six days of the week so even if Sundays were brought into the working week they would be chronically short on the other days of the week. The rolling stock on the West side needs sorting out; non air-con suburban layout 165/166 are a retrograde step on routes like Cardiff-Portsmouth, due to an assortment of management issues Laira is unable to field enough "Castle" HST sets for the small number of diagrams they run which leads to short forms across the business and on the sets they do kick out there are usually faults like air-con failures or sliding internal doors broken. At least on LTV services they have seemingly every single Class 387 ever built so even with their worst in industry reliability the rainbow of liveries are generally able to support the reduced service. It's sort of therapeutic to be able to vent my feelings on the GWR service here- on about 7 out of the 10 times I have used GWR over the last 6 months the only "safety valve" has been to say out loud "Oh for f*** sake!!" after checking a station screen or phone app and finding my journey is going to be very badly delayed or simply impossible on that day. That is the reality on the ground, Hopwood and GWR have a mountain to climb- if they think they are near the top then they are seriously deluded- now that we have passed through the pandemic, the significant crew training program instigated by the cascade of stock and the disruptive electrification program the business should be in a better place than being barely out of sight of base camp. I grant you that things improved on SWR when Hopwood went over there, but when you start off with Mellors in charge even the surviving Chuckle brother would be an improvement. Conversely GWR got a bit better by most measures whilst Galton was temporarily at the helm. A question for you- do you use the GWR service and do you think its all fine?
  2. Begs the question why is GWR in such deep difficulties then? https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/search/detailed/gb-nr:BTH/2021-10-03/0000-2359?stp=WVS&show=pax-calls&order=wtt&toc=GW and that is on the severely reduced timetable for Covid on a day when there was no engineering on any route directly served from there....
  3. I agree 100% with paragraph 1, I'd certainly not volunteer for overtime under the current management climate. I disagree 100% with paragraph 2! I'd sack the whole lot of them starting at the top, the business is failing at all levels and by all reasonable measures and other owning groups wouldn't touch the GWR team past or present with a barge pole. Can you name one single meaningful measure by which GWR could be rated above any other TOC? Mellors was perhaps worse fractionally worse whilst at GWR and now at SWR because he oversaw every single GWR fleet plummet to the bottom of the MPC/MTIN tables, and that includes ALL tractions they then operated; Class 143, Class 150, Class 153, Class 158, Class 165/166, HST, Class 387- the full set. Hopwood has failed to get a grip on ANY issue, instead of delivering on the promised timetable we have had a string of excuses and the only one I accept as being outside their control is the IET cracks. Non delivery of the significantly reduced weekday timetable is entirely down to GWR, and the Sunday situation is utter farce. At least EMR, and I suppose ScotRail to an extent, have taken sensible steps to tell intending passengers what to expect from them on a Sunday which allows them to choose other modes, although in the case of ScotRail the "no service at all" message is very damaging, but perhaps less so than GWRs weekly chaos. I doubt anyone on GWRs executive team other than Hopwood has even 10 years experience on the railway and none of them can blame 'legacy' issues as First Group has been wrecking that service now since 2006 and longer for most constituent elements. It's a source of black humour that the original 1996 GWT set-up promised to "empty the M4" whereas GWR has managed to overfill it- it's the often the sole option and the coach operators must love GWR. As a rail passenger I most certainly do not.
  4. SSO after a train has passed the previous station should be communicated to the driver by the signaller, stopping the train if necessary to tell the driver. The situation on 1A58 was 100% GWRs own creation, the reason it was stopping additionally was the THREE HOUR gap in what should be a half-hourly service on a busy InterCity route at a time of peak demand. Chopping and changing SSOs is a recipe for confusion and the control should have anticipated how busy the train would be even before the SSOs- giving passengers, train crew and signallers different messages all adds to the impression of a company managed by gross incompetents, correctly so in the case of GWR.
  5. Privatisation has largely failed to deliver over here, crucially since many companies reached the end of franchises where they carried a commercial risk and went onto direct awards effectively paying them a % to just run services; GWR has been the longest standing example of such a deal since their franchise ended in c2014. They are not unique in this and other operators including franchised operators have their woes (EMR, ScotRail and West Midlands Trains for example are each embroiled in a self inflicted crisis delivering Sunday services) but GWR has it worst and has failed to get any kind of grip meaning there not even "jam tomorrow" for the optimists. There are a number of other factors afflicting GWR which include but are not limited to diverse traction types which not all crews have knowledge of, low morale among staff leading to high sickness levels and disinclination to do overtime, disastrously poor management of fleet maintenance resulting in their various fleets being right at the bottom of reliability tables by a shocking margin and a general culture of "can't do" across the whole company.
  6. I don't think they can amend the stopping pattern on an IET on route, on 1A59 it just kept saying the next stop is Reading and the Train Manager was doing announcements to cover the SSOs put into that. Hopwood is a joke and the buck has to stop somewhere. The previous time I tried using GWR there was also a three hour gap in service without good reason, and that was Saturday 25/09 from Bristol to Bridgwater when they caped the 1356 at 1415 (no guard) and the 1455 was already cancelled, no traincrew. They have totally failed to manage the situation regarding crew availability on Mondays to Saturdays, cancellations have been horrendous and usually announced some time AFTER the train should have gone and typically leaving passengers stranded on remote stations with no/little information and certainly no alternative but to stand there listening to endless recorded "Safety", "security" or "penalty fare" announcements. The amount of cancellations during the summer was so high that well over 50% of trains I intended to catch did not run at all. Sundays are outside the working week for drivers, and I suspect guards as well and GWR has done nothing meaningful to address that, either by negotiating them into the working week or giving proper incentive for staff to work them. We might not like the EMR service on Sundays but at least it's "reliably thin" so passengers can plan around it, GWR is just "cancel it as we go along". And don't get me started on the condition of the fleet, breakdowns and short formations are the norm on "West" services and (not all their fault) there is no recovery to a full/fully formed service in sight on IET worked routes. How bad does it have to get before Hopwood resigns?!
  7. I was there (sort of*). The service provided by GWR yesterday was an utter, utter, utter disgrace. There were NO trains from Bristol Temple Meads, Bath or Chippenham to Paddington between the 1700 and the 2000. The 1730, 1800 and 1830 were all cancelled, and the 1900 and 1930 never existed. I arrived at 1850 and sussed out the only way would be to get the 1931 XC to Bristol Parkway and join a Swansea to Padd there. However... they were diverting Penzance/Plymouth to Padd trains via Bristol TM as the B&H was blocked (pre planned) somewhere and they announced at 1915 that 1A59 1518 Pnz-Pad would stop additionally at Bristol TM (and Bath, and Chippenham, and Swindon) so I caught that. Then at Swindon, now about 8 late we got held and the reason given was a train ahead had suffered numerous alarm activations and would return to Swindon for POLICE attention. After a few minutes 1A59 got the road to run past bi-directional on the down road from Swindon station to Bourton where it regained the up, we passed 1A58 1418 Pnz-Pad at caution and conditions on there were horrendous, there were c50-60 people stood down the aisle of each coach, the vestibules had 10-15 people crushed into each. 1A59 got past the scene 20 late, 1L92 behind got through with only about 4 mins of delay. 1A58 had changed ends when 1A59 passed and it eventually returned to Swindon, then changed ends again and pined at Reading 104 late. I estimate there were 1200 people on board, the next Bristol to London (the 2000 ex Bristol, starting there vice Taunton) was only a five car so I imagine not many cleared by that. GWR management should resign, starting with Hopwood. The media should be all over this, there was NO engineering at all at any location between Bristol and London yesterday, all lines were open.
  8. The interiors on the Virgin TSOs are totally wrong, wrong colours, entirely the wrong seat layout which should be the 76 seat/10 table of 4 layout. They stick out like a sore thumb, you could just about get away with the wrong interiors if doing a very early Intercity 'swallow' livery and never running a Class 90 on the rake but there is no getting away with it on the Virgin TSOs. People will still buy them and pretend they are right. PM me if you want a solution...
  9. Thanks. Answering my own question I did find a Mk2 air-con standard class interior shot in "The InterCity story" book and they had insides very similar to the link showing a non air-con, wood on the walls and bulkheads, black table tops and blue seats with purple headreast areas. I'm modelling Mk2D so not too fussed if they changed to cream formica on later derivatives. The only remaining question I have is what colour were the table tops in first class in open coaches?!
  10. 40,749 members and 40,749 different ways of interacting with the site. I drop in every few days to see what's newly released or newly announced covering the WR in the 1980s or 1990s, or to ask or react to the occasional question. If everyone paid £10 a year and the forum still lost money with income of £407,000 it's time to change servers!
  11. I'd pay £10 a year. How much would everyone have to pay to have the site ad free? The new addition is VERY intrusive!!
  12. Hmmm. "Pay us £60 a year or you won't be able to read the forum at all because the top 30% of your screen will be taken up by an advert and now the right hand 40% of the remaining screen has a bandwidth sucking video advert everytime you click to a new page". It is a business model I suppose, seriously reduces my visits to the site and I hope the advertisers notice that....
  13. Tangent, but only slight- can anyone point me in the direction of photos of the interiors of Mk2 air-cons (both classes) in BR Blue livery please! Failing that what colour were the tables, what colour were the vestibules?
  14. Agree on all counts. Now that I've stood the Bachmann beside the Hornby I can see what needs doing to "Bachmann-ise" the Hornby ones to make a rake and not spend £300 replacing six perfectly good coaches I already own. Add a film inside the windows to tint them up a bit more, repaint the interiors on both, take the moulded handrail off the Hornby and replace with wire and dust over the roofs to "turn them down" a bit. The underframes are interesting, I can't find any evidence of the real coaches having the step boards other than those directly below the doors picked out- the red springs are right for a newly outshopped (see below, not my photo!). I will add Railtec CDL lights to the Hornby and that is the challenge, I think a coating of gloss varnish with a little dark brown paint mixed in onto the CDL lights before application will make them look a bit more like the Bachmann, will do a test one before the other six!
  15. Just need a retooled spoon to haul them! I've only ordered the RFM for now to see how it looks with the 2000-ish Hornbys, which have hardly ever been run so not wanting to upgrade at over £50 a coach unless the difference is stark.
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