Train operator under pressure
Newbury Today: January 06 2007
By Paul Gavin, Reporter
MPs are receiving numerous complaints about First Great Western's new timetable
TRAIN operator First Great Western has come under increasing pressure to scrap its new timetable.
Since the revised timetable was introduced on December 11, passengers have complained about the lack of trains and seats, especially at peak times.
Local MPs Richard Benyon (Con, Newbury) and Martin Salter (Lab, Reading West) have received a bulging postbag of complaints from angry constituents who are unhappy with the existing service.
Both politicians will meet with the train company on Thursday to see if any action can be taken to resolve the situation.
The meeting follows train company c2c’s decision to revert to its old timetable from Monday as thousands of passengers in Essex and east London had complained about the new service it introduced on December 11.
Last week First Great Western also announced that train tickets would increase above the rate of inflation, with season tickets going up by 4.3 per cent.
Mr Benyon said: “The new timetable has caused chaos since it was introduced.
“West Berkshire commuters have to put up with fewer trains, greater congestion and greater inconvenience at the same time as facing an above inflation fare increase, which has meant more of them reverting to using their cars.”
Mr Salter said: “How refreshing it is to hear of a privitised train company admit its mistakes.
“If First Great Western could have the good sense to take a leaf out of c2c’s book and scrap their current disastrous timetable, and get back to the situation before December 11, then they would make an awful lot of people happy at a stroke.”
First Great Western has bowed to commuter pressure and it is carrying out a review of the new timetable.
First Great Western spokesman Lance Cole said: “We are undertaking a review and we are aware of the issues.
“We hope to make an announcement soon about the result of the review.”
The company is hoping to use part of the cash raised by higher ticket prices to improve train services and stations.