A lovely long sunny bank holiday might do wonders for the soul and for the niggling DIY jobs that have been put off for the last six months, but it doesn’t do so much for progress on the Carriage Capture. Nor does a duplicate carriage on Friday evening which meant it wasn’t until this morning with Carriage A on the 06:57 that I was able to get things going again with 44074 captured and safely put in the bag.
There was nothing to report on the journey apart from my neighbour’s thigh pressing into mine which wouldn’t be a problem apart from the fact that he had a beard and hissing headphones, but what is to report is the twitter spat I allowed myself to be foolishly dragged into yesterday evening. Perhaps it was watching Ronnie O’Sullivan allow the chance of a 6th World Title slip from his grasp that had made me so peevish or perhaps it was just spotting this self-pitying tweet from @FGW:
Don't you understand? It's not us, it's all your fault!
Now I know that the limit of 140 characters isn't exactly the ideal basis for getting across nuanced points but there really is a list of things that the FGW should never try to do on the medium of tweet (for details of this list please leave a comment on the blog) and unfortunately Grant’s no doubt well intentioned message here just came across as a pathetically winging comment that seems to suggest that any lack of improvement in the service is the passenger’s fault.
The fact is however that I have fedback service improvement suggestions to FGW on more than one occasion but have so far never received any sort of reply or acknowledgement from a manager with responsibilities in that particular area of the business. I have had recognition of receipt of my emails and I have had further discussion on these points with members of the communications team but as for having some sort of tip of the hat in my direction from someone from the upper echelons……..well as I say, their stove-pipe top hats are staying firmly attached to their heads.
Now the phrase “Service Improvement” is a curious one in itself because in the three years I’ve been a constant commuter, I have seen not one single improvement. That’s not to say of course there hasn’t been good service, there has been, plenty of it in fact but things don’t actually get any better. Service levels seem to be strangely circular with period of months with no issues whatsoever followed by a similar period where everything seems to fall apart at the seams. But none of this has anything to do with “service improvement”; there aren’t more trains, the fares haven’t gone down, there’s no new facilities, there’s no new choices. The standard of an average journey is the same as it was in, in my case anyway, 2011. Now I’m sure if FGW were directly challenged on this they would quote the new Reading Station or the plans for the roll out of WiFi (really? Wifi by 2014? That’s nothing to be proud of….) but all of this is either the work or investment of other partners or too little a lot lot lot too late. If I'm wrong here of course, let me know......tell me of the extra services, tell me of the new trains that run all night, explain how my season ticket also enables me to a free coffee, go into detail about the new seats with extra room, wax lyrical about the new ticket offices and their extended opening hours, sing from the rooftops about the additional work with your partners which has seen a decrease in the percentage of infrastructure failures........my ears, unlike the door to Marky Mark's inbox, always open.
Anyway to cut a long and drawn out twitter conversation short, what’s happened now is that I have emailed a couple of service improvement suggestions to Grant directly and he has promised to chase these up and ensure that I do get a response from someone appropriate. (Not that Grant himself has as yet acknowledged the mail yet, which is curious considering one of the points here is the subject of acknowledgement….) So the clock is ticking Grant and if anyone wants to follow my progress on this mission the hashtag you’ll need is #NotJasonNess