MARLOW - MAIDENHEAD PASSENGERS' ASSOCIATION MMPA Logo
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Issues and Successes

Issues

Crossrail

We have a number of concerns about the Crossrail project.

  • 9-car trains with fewer seats than a 5-car Networker Turbo formation.
  • No toilets on trains. We understand that the carriage design does allow for toilets but TfL has no intention to install them.
  • Calling at all stations - alternative fast services must be provided from Maidenhead to Paddington.

Taplow Footbridge

A temporary bridge was installed at the London end of the station and the old bridge is now closed right across. It has not yet been decided whether the old bridge will be repaired and raised to give the necessary clearance, or it will be replaced by a new bridge with lifts. It is doubtful whether lifts can be installed to connect to the old bridge. In the event of the old bridge being replaced it will be donated to a heritage railway.

We currently have an issue because short trains still stop at the countery end of the station near the old footbridge, so it is a long walk for passengers to get to the temporary bridge. This has been raised with GWR.

Bourne End - High Wycombe

We have strongly objected to planning applications to build more houses on the trackbed. There is growing pressure for the line to be reopened as it will provide an essential link between the Chiltern Line and Heathrow Airport when the western link to Heathrow is built. The connection is also seen as an extension to the Windsor Link Railway project to join up the two railways into Windsor.

Twyford Car Park

We are concerned about several aspects of the station car park at Twyford.

  • There is insufficient capacity for the number of commuters using the station.
  • The car park is not being maintained in a safe and tidy condition. It seems to be covered with mud and leaves.
  • Moves to close the gate and footpath between platforms 4/5 and the car park, across the link line between the branch and platform 4. Discussions are continuing with interested parties.

Update: GWR is developing plans to double-deck the car park at Twyford to provide more capacity.

Taplow Bus Stops

The bus stops on Bath Road have been relocated closer to Tesco and are less convenient for the station. One stop (westbound) appears to be in use but is being ignored by First Group drivers. We are trying to get the stops for the station reinstated.

CIS on Trains

There are still plenty of reports of CIS not working at all or giving a default welcome message or failing to respond to GPS information.

Passengers on the through Paddington-Bourne End trains are invited to change at Maidenhead for connecting services to Marlow! FGW is aware of this problem. It can be corrected but this will require issuing updated SD cards to the entire Turbo fleet. This appears to be beyond the wit of FGW to organise in the short term.

Update: On some services passengers are being given the message: “We apologise but this service is running approximately [delay_mins] minutes late.” when the train is on time or has not yet left its starting point.

Another classic was: "First Great Western welcomes you to this service to Not in service calling at Not in service and Not in Service". The train was on a Maidenhead to Bourne End service. See our facebook page for a video.

CIS at Stations

When a train is late the information displays can move on before it arrives. So for example, a Maidenhead train pulls into the station and the matrix display is showing the next train to Marlow. The system is incapable of working out that it a train that turns back at Bourne End is ten minutes late leaving Maidenhead and has a four minute turnround at Bourne End, it cannot possibly be on time on the way back.

Recently the CIS has been showing “Train information not currently available”, mobile diagnostice or complete garbage. GWR is aware that there have been problems with the mobile data connection to the display units.

Cookham Station

Cycle hoops have been provided at Cookham but not where we agreed. They are positionned such that any bikes chained to them will obstruct pedestrian flow along the platform.

Help Points

The help points on the Marlow branch are operational. However pressing the middle button initiates a mobile call which is forwarded to a call centre in India, and the agent answering it does not have accurate information about the location of trains.

Tickets Failing to Operate Barriers

We still receive reports of tickets sold on trains not operating the barriers at stations for which they are valid. Please report occurrences to FGW Customer Services or send the tickets to us.

There are occasional reports of tickets from local booking offices failing, but this could be due to other factors. Please take care not to place your tickets next to mobile phones, headphones or any magnetised materials.

Overcrowding on First Great Western

Overcrowding on peak Maidenhead - London trains remains an issue and is unlikely to be resolved before the start of Crossrail services.

Sunday Service at Taplow

Housing and retail developments at Taplow station have increased the footfall at the station and will continue to do so. There is already a demand for Sunday services. The only reason why FGW will not provide them is that it would cost more to provide a replacement bus service when local trains are running on the Main lines. We think this is unacceptable.

Paddington Interchange with Hammersmith & City Line

A lot of complaints have been received about the new Circle/H & C station at Paddington. Whereas it used to be possible to cross between Platforms 13/14 (FGW suburban) and platforms 15/16 (Underground) in under a minute it now takes at least five minutes by a long circuitous route passing through two gatelines to get from one side of a locked door to the other side. This can result in missed connections at other main line stations because the extra time has not been allowed for. What is needed is a new footbridge connecting all the platforms.

Timetables

Although some improvements have been made there are still some near misses resulting in long waits for branch line trains. This is particularly bad in the Reading direction. It is bad public relations for branch line trains to be pulling out just as potential connecting trains arrive at the adjacent platform.

In particular we have raised the near miss between the 1746 Maidenhead-Marlow and the 1637 Oxford-Paddington which departs Maidenhead at 1747. There is no operational reason why the 1746 should not be delayed by two or three minutes to make the connection, since it waits a long time at Marlow and clears the Maidenhead to Bourne End section well before the following train needs to enter it. This would reduce the journey time from Oxford by 30 minutes making the route more attractive to passengers who might desert to Chiltern once its service via Bicester commences.

Heathrow Misconnect

The current timetable continues the misconnect between the FGW off-peak trains connecting with the branch trains and Heathrow Connect trains to Heathrow at Hayes & Harlington. It is quicker and cheaper to catch the 140 bus from Hayes to the airport. If travelling to Terminal 5 catch the 77 bus from Slough.

Electrification

We welcome electrification of the Thames Valley services between Paddington and Reading, Oxford and Newbury, and the Great Western Main Line to Bristol and Cardiff. We are disappointed that after the sensible decision has been taken to extend electrification to the Thams Valley branches and Swansea, the Maidenhead to Marlow branch will not now be included in CP5 or the current GWR franchise. The reason would appear to be that First Group does not want to operate a small fleet (2 or 3) of 3-car electric units for the service although it does currently operate two very non-standard diesel Sprinters on the Reading - Basingstoke line. The short distance between the buffer stops at Bourne End and the junction for Marlow precludes the use of standard 4-car electric units on the branch.

High Speed Two

MMPA believes that HS2 must be built, but does not express a view on routeing through the Chilterns. We note the proposals for an interchange with the Great Western lines, Crossrail and Heathrow Express at Old Oak Common. This also offers opportunities for interchange with the London Overground and Underground lines through Willesden Junction if a connection is put in. The additional stop for Thames Valley passengers will increase journey times but this will be offset by the improved connectivity. We believe that the interchange should also be provided with the West Coast Main Line at Willesden.

Western Rail Link to Heathrow

Network Rail is now actively considering a scheme to build a new line from Heathrow Terminal 5 passing over the GW Main Line on a flyover to join the Relief Lines between Iver and Langley. This is not likely to materialise before 2024.

Successes

Penalty Fares Notices

We were alarmed at the aggressive wording of penalty fare notices which had been displayed at some stations, threatening penalty fares for passengers who did not purchase a ticket in advance of travel and advising them to go to a staffed station if necessary. The branch line is a paytrain service and the booking offices are only open for a few hours in the morning. Only Bourne End has a ticket vending machine. The notices were clearly in breach of the penalty fare regulations and have now been taken down.

Thanks to former committee member Peter Danniels for his persistent efforts in getting the offending notice at Cookham removed.

Marlow Station

A new shelter at Marlow has now been installed. We understand that secure hoops will be installed in the existing cycle shed.

Cookham

We are pleased thet acryllic panels have now been fitted to the shelter at Cookham.

Step-free Access at Taplow

We believe that there is now a committment to provide lifts at Taplow, Iver and Langley. At Taplow this is likely to mean a new footbridge with lifts connecting platform 4 to platforms 2 and 3 only. There will be no step-free access to or from the south car park (see above). We are working on this.

Customer Information

CIS is now installed along the branch. There are some concerns about its operation (see above).

Help Points

Help poins are operational at branch stations but cannot necessarily provide accurate information (see above).

Bourne End Bridge

After a prolonged campaign we finally convinced Network Rail to refurbish the bridge across the Thames at Bourne End. This turned out to require a lot more extensive structural repairs than Network Rail had previously admitted were necessary.


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Last updated 28th March, 2016