Wiltshire Publications

Great Western ‘fail’ – commuter’s despair at train delays

ALOCAL man has spoken out about the ‘consistently poor service’ that Great Western Rail provides and is urging others to take a stand.

Christopher Hallahan has been commuting from his home in Westbury into London twice a day since August but has become increasingly frustrated with a consistant lack of punctuality.

Christopher said, “The consistency with which the delays occur means I no longer schedule meetings at work before mid-morning, but more frustratingly they eat into my home life.

“I’ve a young family and I want to spend as much time as I can with them. I expect delays, they are going to happen for a variety of valid reasons and I knew that when I bought my season ticket, but many problems are of GWR’s own making through poor planning and thoughtlessness, and they are not improving their performance.

“We’ve been promised new rolling stock, extra capacity and a more punctual service for years – I’ve been a commuter on the route since the early 2000s – and nothing has been delivered.

“They fudge their performance figures to keep gullible rail ministers from removing their franchise, for example they will ensure small, local stopping services run in a timely manner to boost their figures knowing the gloss over those of the big commuter services that most people use.

“It’s incredibly frustrating, it’s incredibly unfair and I’m at the point where I now have to choose between my job or where my family lives; I cannot put up with the delays and the poor excuses. They charge a fortune too, so I expect them to be doing much better than they are.”

Christopher continued, “Lots of people complain already, you’ve only to look at social media to see that, but they’d be better to focus it directly towards those at the top. I cannot fathom why such a fundamental part of modern life and modern business still functions so poorly, and because it affects me constantly I cannot ignore it, and I cannot settle for poor excuses.

“I suspect there’s lots of apathy about; that people’s complaints won’t register and will have no effect – they may be right ultimately but I think there’s still more pressure that can be applied.

“Raising it with your MP is a very good start, asking the press to take an interest, it all might lend itself to real change and real improvement – it’d be great if more commuters affected took this approach and I am talking right up and down the GWR franchise, Westbury isn’t the only place affected and wouldn’t have much leverage even if it were.”

Christopher has been emailing the managing director of Great Western Rail Mark Hopwood daily with updates on his late trains but with no response. Finally, after the White Horse News got in touch with Great Western Rail for a comment,  Christopher got a response.

Customer support senior officer Simon Pritchard said, “Apologies for my delay picking up on your emails relating to your journeys this week.

So far, it certainly has not been a great start to the week, with delays on all of your morning and evening services. It’s equally disappointing apologies and explanations have not been given.

“We always raise each and every issue with Network Rail at the highest level and they have put in place a Great Western performance recovery plan, made up of a mixture of tactical actions to prevent performance from declining any further in the short-term, as well as more strategic initiatives to underpin future performance success.

“We are supporting this plan with project management assistance as well making sure our trains leave our stations and our depots on time. We will also continue to work hard to reduce those delays we have direct control over such as the reliability of our crew and our trains.”