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News Archive 2011 - 2012

FGW Ran Most Overcrowded Train in 2011

DfT figures based on peak hour arrivals in major cities show that the most overcrowded train in 2011 was the 07:44 Henley-on-Thames to Paddington which carried 179 passengers in excess of capacity (PIXC), a load factor of 180%. This was a three car train which FGW has subsequently strengthened to four cars. After sweeping the board in 2010, FGW has only two trains in the 2011 top ten, the other being the 06:30 Banbury to Paddington in 5th place with 158%.
[20121219]

New Timetables

The new timetables are in force from 9th December. Marlow and Henley branch timetables are unchanged. There are some changes to connecting services mostly after 22:00 on weekdays.
[20121209]

RH Transport Cewases Operation

We understand that RH Transport, also known as Hutt of Flintstock, ceased trading at lunchtime today. The company is a major bus operator in South Oxfordshire. All services have ceased and no buses and Oxfordshire County Council is trying to arrange replacement services and has reached agreement with Stagecoach to run some services tomorrow. More information.
[20121004]

GW Franchise Renewal On Pause Following WCML Débacle

The government has put the Great Western franchise renewal process on hold following the West Coast Main Line fiasco which resulted in the government cancelling the award of the franchise to First Group at one minute past midnight this morning. The DfT's franchising process is now in disarray following its admission of serious flaws in the way in which the bids were evaluated, specifically in the areas of inflation and risk assessment.
[20101003]

Bernie Wheeler Happy Retirement Bernie!

Our long time booking clerk at Bourne End, Bernie Wheeler retired on July 3rd. He will certainly be missed at the station but we wish him a long and happy retirement. Click on the image for a larger photo. (Mike Walker)

Thames Valley Punctuality Falls to 82.4%

According to an itv.com report “almost one in five services on Great Western Routes in the Thames valley have been late according to official figures”. The worst delays have been on the Reading to Bedwyn and Basingstoke routes. Some delays were caused by infrastructure problems and other operators, but there have also been failures with FGW’s trains. Season ticket holders can get a 5% discount when renewing their tickets if average punctuality over the preceding twelve months falls below 89%. It is currently 88.2%.
[20120831]

Thames Valley Branches to be Electrified?

The Secretary of State for Transport has stated in her High Level output Specification (HLOS) for Control Period 5 (2014-19) that she "wishes to extend the scope of electrification of the Great Western Main Line" to include the branch lines from Slough to Windsor, Maidenhead to Marlow and Twyford to Henley-on-Thames as well as the freight line from Acton to Willesden. She believes that the industry should be able to deliver these schemes concurrent with Main Line electrification.

In typical government style the DfT has reannounced many schemes which are already underway or are committed or are operator initiatives. Of the roughly £9bn cost of the listed schemes only £4.1bn is actually new. The investment funds listed total £905M.

Other schemes of local interest are the Heathrow Western Access link form Terminal 5 to the Relief lines near Langley, and electrification of the Reading to Basingstoke line at 25kV AC as part of the Southampton to Nuneaton freight route. The East-West route from Oxford to Bedford will be electrified as it is reopened but Chiltern’s proposed service from Oxford to High Wycombe and Marylebone will be diesel operated.
[20100720]

Great Marlow Line - it’s Official!

That's the name chosen by FGW’s publicity department, and promotional brochures are being distributed to FGW stations in the London & Thames Valley area. The brochure can be downloaded here (PDF 2.23MB).

Derailment at Reading Depot

A derailment at Reading depot this morning trapped a third of FGW’s Turbo units in the depot, leading to many cancellations and short trains. Services are not expected to return to normal until 16:00. Check your journey before travelling. Off-peak branch line services appear to be operating normally. Update: most services were back to normal by mid afternoon, and Reading-Basingstoke by 16:00.
[20120618]

New Timetables from 14th May 2012

First Great Western timetables are available here.
The Chiltern Mainline Timetable is available here.
There has been a reduction of services from High Wycombe and Beaconsfield from 4 to 3 trains per hour offpeak as one train now turns back at Gerrards Cross. A more regular "clock face" timetable is planned for December 2012.
[20120518]

Update: We have now sent out the pocket timetables and newsletters to members in the area. The Marlow line timetable has some discrepancies between the connecting times shown for the branch line services and the arrival times at Paddington shown in the Paddington-Maidenhead summary table. Please check connections against booklet 8 or the Network Rail timetable.
[20120518]

Bus Diversions

A 7.5 tonne weight limit has been imposed on the bridge on the Old Bath Road (A3032) between Sonning and Twyford and is likely to remain for 18 months. As a result, buses on Service 850 are unable to serve Charvil and are being diverted via New Bath Road (A4) and Wargrave Road (A321) with a temporary bus stop located at Park View Drive on the diversion route.

This also affects routes 127 and 128. There is a temporary bus stop at the side of the Wee Waif next to the petrol station served by west bound buses on route 127/128. More information.
[20120302]

Four Bidders Short-listed for GW Franchise

First Group, Arriva (DB), National Express and Stagecoach have been shortlisted as bidders for the Great Western franchise. It is anticipated that the Invitations to Tender will be issued in May, with the successful bidder being announced in December. The new franchise will run for 15 years from April 2013.
[20120329]

Download MMPA’s response to the Great Western Franchise Consultation (PDF).

Sunday Timetables

Please be aware that the FGW timetable booklets do not show the correct times for Sunday services after 12th February. This is because the services for the Cotswold line are changing three times during the period of the timetable owing to engineering work on that line. Also FGW trimetables do not show all high speed services calling at Maidenhead. Please refer to Table 116 (see above) for more complete information. Several pocket timetables have been reissued with suffic "a" after the number for Sunday services from 19th February.

Underground Strike

The RMT union has confirmed that a 72-hour strike of Tube Lines staff in support of a dispute over pensions and benefits (in particular parity with former Metronet staff) will take place from 16:00 on 24th April to 16:00 on 27th April. Tube Lines staff are responsible for maintenance and upgrade work on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines. We do not yet know what effect this will have on services.
[20120417]

Carousel Route 1 Withdrawn from 16th April

Carousel Buses Route 1 between Bourne End and High Wycombe is withdrawn as from 16th April 2012. New services 155 (Marlow-Maidenhead) and 158 (Marlow-High Wycombe) have been operating since 1st April, albeit with very few journeys.
[20120411]

More on Extra Capacity

The new vehicles (see below) will be deployed as follows:

Two three-car Class 150 units will operate weekday commuter services between Reading and Basingstoke.

Other services will be strengthened as follows:

  1. 0637 Reading — London Paddington: 3-cars to 5-cars
  2. 0630 Bristol — London Paddington: to high capacity 2+8
  3. 0607 Oxford — London Paddington: the next service * from Reading will be strengthened from 3-cars to 5-cars
  4. 0709 Oxford — London Paddington: standard 2+8 HST to high capacity 2+8 HST
  5. 0728 Bourne End — London Paddington: the next service * from Maidenhead will be strengthened to high capacity 2+8 HST
  6. 0740 Reading — London Paddington: the next service * from Slough will be strengthened from 3-cars to 5-cars
  7. 1657 London Paddington — Reading: 3-cars to 5-cars
  8. 1722 London Paddington — Oxford: 2+7 to high capacity 2+8 HST.
  9. 1845 London Paddington — Reading: 3-cars to 5-cars
  10. 1815 London Paddington — Oxford: the previous train * will be strengthened from 3-cars to 5-cars

* We have asked FGW exactly which trains are being strengthened as the above details are far from clear. Ware awaiting a response.

Great Western Franchise Consultation

You can find MMPA’s proposed response to the consultation here (PDF 179kB).

Carousel Taken Over

Go-Ahead Group has announced the forthcoming acquisition of Carousel Buses Limited, based in High Wycombe. The acquisition will take place on Saturday 3 March 2012. Carousel operates around 50 buses on commercial services and school contracts, including route 1 to Bourne End.
[20120220]

Cow Lane Bridge Replacement Time Lapse Video

The bridge carrying the GW Main Line over Cow Lane in Reading was replaced in five days over Christmas 2011. The new bridge was constructed on site beforehand. You can watch the Network Rail / Bam Nuttall time-lapse video here.

FGW Announces Extra Capacity

First Great Western has announced that it is investing in 46 extra carriages for London and Thames Valley, which will deliver an extra 4,500 seats in the morning and evening peaks. Details on the News page.
[20111122]

Documentary Series looks at FGW

Century Films is currently making a documentary series for the BBC about the rail network. Told from the point-of-view of staff and passengers, it‘s exploring the upgrade of stations and tracks, the problems that bad weather can cause, the impact of crime ... just about every aspect of daily railway life! As part of this Rob McCabe is very keen to get in contact with people who regularly commute into Paddington (First Great Western trains). The upgrade work that‘s happening on this route is a big focus for the series, and he wants to include the experience of passengers as well. So if you travel in and out of London Paddington, be it from Reading or Bristol or somewhere in-between, do contact Rob on 07775 942866 or e-mail.

December 2011 Timetables

The new timetables commenced on 11th December. You can download the FGW leaflets from here.

Network Rail timetable links are on the home page. In particular, users may prefer Table 117 to the FGW booklet because it includes all trains calling at Slough and it mostly keeps trains in the correct sequence.

The new Chiltern timetable booklet is here (PDF 1.7MB).

FGW Announces Extra Capacity Across the Network

First Great Western (FGW) has announced that it will be investing in 46 additional carriages for London and the Thames Valley. This represents an extra 4,500 seats in the morning and evening peaks to and from London – an increase of around 9%. This will be delivered through:

  • adding an extra standard class coach on the 18 of our High Speed Trains that currently run with seven passenger coaches, known as “2+7s”.
  • the introduction of five 5-car Class 180 Adelante trains on our North Cotswolds line, which releases some of the turbos currently used on the route to add capacity to commuter services in the Thames Valley and to and from London.
  • the introduction of three Class 150 units on the Reading to Basingstoke line to increase peak time seating capacity by 13%.

Customers should see improvements from Spring 2012, with all the additional vehicles in service by the end of September.

FGW MD Mark Hopwood said “There will still be some very busy services at peak times. The agreement is however a further very significant step forward and one that will improve the quality of service for many of our customers. It is also a practical demonstration of our determination to continue to invest and develop services for London and the Thames Valley throughout this franchise (and hopefully beyond!)”
[20111122]

Chiltern Mainline Timetable starts 5th September

The accelerated Chiltern Mainline timetable begins on September 5th. There are significant changes including loco hauled trains between Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street. More information here.
[20110827]

Update: There were some teething troubles due to signalling problems but the timetable has now settled down. However there is overcrowding on peak services from High Wycombe, Beaconsfield and Gerards Cross. These should be alleviated when more refurbished Mk.III coaching stock arrives in the new year.

New Shelter at Marlow

We are very pleased to report that the new shelter has been installed at Marlow. We are told by FGW that new cycle storage facilities at Marlow and Cookham should be completed this week.
[20110607]
Update: cycle hoops have been installed at Cookham but the facilities at Marlow are unchanged. The cycle shelter doesn't provide sufficient security and we would like to have Sheffield hoops installed under the canopy.
[20110827]
Update: the hoops at Cookham have not been installed as agreed and bicycles chained to them can obstruct accewss along the platform. We are taking this up with FGW.
[20110916]

Information System at Maidenhead

The new CIS at Maidenhead is now fully operational. This can't be said of the trains which often show the wrong next station.
[20110718]
Update: There have been persistent problems with the displays on platform 3 (down relief).
[20110827]
Update: We think that the platform 3 indicator is now working properly. If you notice any faults please let us know.
[20110916]

CCTV for Marlow and Furze Platt

Closed circuit television supervision will soon be installed at Marlow and Furze Platt stations, thanks to much lobbying by MMPA and negotiation between the parties concerned, in particular FGW and the local councils.
[20110421]
Update: this work is now scheduled for October.
[20110607]
Update: CCTV is now in operation.
[20120301]

Bus Shelter for Bourne End

bus shelter at Bourne End

This project is now going ahead following the resolution of uncertainty over ownership of the land. We expect real time bus information to be provided for buses in the High Wycombe direction only.
[20110421]
Update: the shelter has now been installed but there is no real time information. (click photo to enlarge)
[20110827]

First Group to Bid for Future GW Franchise

First Group has announced that it will not be taking up the option to extend the current franchise for a further three years beyond 2013. Instead, it will be negotiating and bidding for a longer term franchise in line with the Government’s new policy on rail franchising and investment. Had First Group extended the franchise it would have had to pay over £0.8bn to the government in premiums.
[20110511]

Passenger Indormation Systems

We were advised that the new information system at Maidenhead would be installed and operational by April, following on from Newbury.
[20110121]

Update: It wasn't! We are now told that work will start on 12th May and should be finished by the end of the month. We note that work is currently under way at Twyford, and that Henley-on-Thames has already received attention.
[20110511]

Update 2: It didn't! The CIS was out of action on 12th May but has since returned to its old erratic state.
[20110515]

Update 3: The new system now seems to be in operation but the departure display on platform 3 (down relief) was not working on our last visit.
[20110630]

Routes & Branches Tour Rescheduled

Residents living near to the lines please be aware that a railtour will be visiting Bourne End, Henley-on-Thames and Windsor & Eton Central (amongst other branches) overnight on Saturday morning 16th July. The train will be topped and tailed by Class 37 locomotives (more details here). Please note the tour is organised by Spitfire Railtours and has nothing to do with MMPA!
[20110511]

First Group to Declines Franchise Extension

First Group today announced that it will not be taking up the option to extend the current franchise for a further three years beyond 2013. Instead, it will be negotiating and bidding for a longer term franchise in line with the Government’s new policy on rail franchising and investment. Under the existing franchise FGW would have been liable for premium payments to the Government of £826M. Go figure.
[20110511]

Marlow/Wycombe Branch Artifacts Wanted

The Marlow Museum would like to borrow artifacts, in particular from the GWR era, relating to the High Wycombe and Marlow branch for a display in June. If you can help please contact the webmaster or the museum directly.

RMT Calls Underground Strike

In a dispute over alleged victimisation of two LU drivers for union activities, the RMT union has called its Underground drivers out on duties commencing in the following periods in the weeks 16th-20th May, and 13th-17th June:

  • between 21:01 on Monday and 11:59 on Tuesday
  • between 12:00 on Wednesday and 11:59 on Thursday
  • between 12:00 on Friday and 21:00 on Friday
[20110504]

Update: one of the drivers concerned has won his case for unfair dismissal. The strike is still on pending resolution of the other case.
[20110509]

Update 2: the strike has now been suspended pending talks on the reinstatement of the second driver in advance of his Employment Tribunal.
[20110510]

Tell a Train company exactly what you think!

One of the region’s local train companies is interested to hear from regular commuters to London from the Bourne End, Farnham Common and Flackwell Heath area to help them improve their service. They want to know commuters’ thoughts on all aspects of the journey by any rail company they use, including pricing, timetable, stations and trains to help influence the future development of their operation.

Where: Bourne End Community Centre
When: Saturday 21st May 10:30-11:30

If you wish to attend, please e-mail by Thursday 19th May with the following information:

  1. Your name
  2. Your normal rail journey
  3. The main thing you think Rail companies should focus on to improve customer satisfaction.

Spaces are limited, and you will be contacted by e-mail on Friday 20th May to advise whether you have been selected to attend. Tea, coffee will be provided

CCTV for Marlow and Furze Platt

Closed circuit television supervision will soon be installed at Marlow and Furze Platt stations, thanks to much lobbying by MMPA and negotiation between the parties concerned, in particular FGW and the local councils.
[20110421]

Bus Shelter for Bourne End

This project is now going ahead following the resolution of uncertainty over ownership of the land. We expect real time bus information to be provided.
[20110421]

Secure Cycle Storage at Cookham and Marlow

Again thanks to funding and co-operation by all parties this scheme will shortly be bearing fruit.
[20110421]

Marlow/Wycombe Branch Artifacts Wanted

The Marlow Museum would like to borrow artifacts, in particular from the GWR era, relating to the High Wycombe and Marlow branch for a display in June. If you can help please contact the webmaster or the museum directly.

Late evening fast trains from Paddington

We understand that some late evening fast trains from Paddington will be introduced in the may timetable update.

Airtrack Scheme Scrapped

Heathrow airport operator BAA has withdrawn it's Transport and Works Act for the Airtrack scheme to link Heathrow terminal 5 with the Windsor lines in order to provide direct rail services to Reading and Waterloo. This is due to unsurmountable problems with congestion caused by increased barrier down time at level crossings laong the route. Also the Comprehensive Spending Review meant that there would be no public funding for the scheme. Instead BAA will concentrate on alternatives including a connection to the Great Western Main Line.
[20110412]

Information System at Maidenhead

We were adviced that the new information system at Maidenhead would be installed and operational by April, following on from Newbury.
[20110121]

Update: It wasn't! We are now told that work will start on 12th May and should be finished by the end of the month.
[20110511]

LU Line Closure 23 July-23 August

The District and Circle line will be closed between High Street Kensington and Edgware Road from 23rd July to 23rd August for track replacement and drains attention.
[20110122]

Reading Bus Changes from 18th April

Station Road, Reading is closed for alterations in connection with Reading Station remodelling. Buses are not able to use Station Road and are re-routed for the duration of these works. Some buses use a temporary stop outside Apex Plaza next to Reading station. See the Reading Buses web site for full details of changes to its services. More information can be found on the Reading Borough Council web site.
[20110412]

Chiltern Postpones Mainline Launch

Chiltern Railways has postponed its new, accelerated timetable from the May timetable change until August. This is due to problems with the Evergreen 3 upgrades. Management of the project has been taken over by Network Rail. Please see Chiltern Mainline Announcement.
[20110218]

Lighting at Marlow

We are informed that the faults on the power supply to the lighting standards at Marlow station have now been rectified, and that FGW is monitoring the situation. If you find the lighting not working please let us know.
[20110205]

Wrexham & Shropshire Ceases Trading

The open access operator, Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway, ceased operations this Friday, 28th January. More here.
[20110126]

Chiltern Change

Adrian Shooter CBE, Chairman of Chiltern Railways has announced the appointment of Rob Brighouse as its new Managing Director.   Rob comes from London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL) where he is currently the Deputy Managing Director, a role he started having led a successful joint bid for the concession by DB and MTR.

Rob is expected to start in his new post once he has concluded a series of important projects at London Overground on behalf of Transport for London (TfL). More here.
[20110113]

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