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NEWSLETTER No.130

Winter 2005

TIMETABLES

Sunday December 11th sees the introduction of First Great Western Link's (FGWL's) latest versions of local rail timetables. There are no significant changes to patterns of services provided by FGWL and schedules continue along the lines introduced earlier in the year. However please note that there have been some retimings - mainly running one minute earlier. Most off-peak trains leave Maidenhead one minute earlier, as do return workings from Marlow. Please also note that the 0725 from Bourne End to Paddington will run two minutes earlier from stations on the branch line. The current 0746 Maidenhead departure for Bourne End will now leave at 0739 and run earlier to Bourne End. In addition, the times of off-peak services to/from Taplow and Burnham on weekdays and Saturdays have been revised to run a minute earlier, along with the associated times to/from Maidenhead.

PLEASE CHECK the NEW TIMETABLES - booklets and pocket timetables are available at stations - members received a copy with this newsletter. In response to our requests, and in addition to your local timetable book 4, there is now a pocket timetable covering Marlow and Henley services.

Comparative TimetablesDecember 2003December 2004December 2005
Maidenhead - Paddington (Monday - Friday)
Daily number of trains828688
Dep. Maidenhead 0630-0900181821
Journey time < 30 minutes996
Paddington - Maidenhead (Monday - Friday)
Daily number of trains888888
Dep. Paddington 1700-1930201617
Journey time < 30 minutes1078

We continue to press for some faster peak-time services to serve Maidenhead, especially in the evening period but have been unsuccessful at present.

Chiltern Railways' services continue to follow the pattern which has been generated over recent months, with no significant changes from either High Wycombe or Beaconsfield.

MEMBERSHIP MATTERS

'MemSec' writes:

I am pleased to say that the vast majority of our members have now renewed for the current year. I would like to place on record the thanks of your committee for this continuing support, especially those of you who added a donation to your subscription. You will be pleased to learn that I shall not be pestering you again until the renewal date of 1st April 2006!

It is important to keep up pressure on the railway industry. It is not easy nowadays with the fragmentation that has taken place due to privatisation but we do our best to keep our fingers on the pulse. This is helped by a strong membership but as I have said before, we must not allow ourselves to become complacent.

You should have had your new timetables in this issue of the Newsletter (printed version), which will become effective on Sunday 11th December.

Membership Fees: Adult £4 - Family £5 - Concessions £3

We apologise for the reduction in our communications this year - holidays and illness have reduced our resources. If there is anyone in our membership who would be willing to help MMPA with production of the newsletter please contact us through the Secretary.

CHILTERN

Some of you will be aware of the problems associated with running trains on the Chiltern line this year. The collapse of the Tesco tunnel at Gerrards Cross caused operational problems with trains and busses providing services for several weekends during the summer. Since then there has been a spate of breakdowns of trains and most recently the fire at High Wycombe station. Once a spate of bad luck comes along it takes a while for things to recover. But essential communications are made to keep customers informed, and staff available to provide assistance where alternative travel arrangements are in place.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

Please see our Information Page.

BRAYWICK NURSERIES

During the summer MMPA was asked to help with expanding community involvement at Maidenhead station - part of First Group's policy at a number of stations around Western region. We are pleased to say that Braywick Nurseries has accepted the invitation to help brighten Maidenhead station by attending to the flowerbeds and tubs.

CUSTOMER PANEL

During the summer FGW and FGWL decided to replace the previous passenger forums with Customer Panels. 31 volunteers have been appointed to represent travellers - 18 for FGW and 13 for FGWL. Meeting four times a year, the panel is intended to be an official channel for discussion and guidance with management at all levels. Members do not deal with daily operating problems unless they form part of a wider problem. Please note that your so-called Customer Champion is Nigel Hunt. Panel members are not employed by First Group, but simply have an interest in rail travel as an economic and socially important medium in our various areas. Just as we have matters of common interest, there are obviously problems relating to specific groups of stations - for instance in our area we have the problem of reduced availability of fast, peak-time services to and from Paddington as well as lack of platform capacity at Maidenhead where Platform 1 was pruned back many years ago.

Identifying panel members as Customer Champions and displaying large 'Wanted' style posters at stations was not of the group's making. First Group wanted to support growth, and identification, of a group of customers as a team they could rely on to discuss matters of policy and direction, rather than focussing on the daily irritating cancellations and duff communications we all suffer on a daily basis. Customer Relations team deal with the latter problems as they are relayed to Plymouth - members become more interested if a problem is prolonged and does not seem to receive the attention and resolution we would expect.

Contact - email: customer.panel@firstgroup.com.
Postal: Customer Panel, c/o Customer Relations, FGW/FGWL, Freepost SWB 40576, PLYMOUTH PL4 6ZZ.

MARY DOVE

As some of you will be aware, Mary Dove, our stalwart supporter at Marlow, was taken seriously ill a few weeks ago and is still in hospital. On behalf of the membership we extend our thoughts to Mary's family at this stressful time.

Advance Notice of Visit

We have been fortunate enough again to be invited to visit the Fawley Museum Railway at Sir William McAlpine's estate just outside Henley. It will be four years since our last visit and we are fortunate to be reinvited as there are only four steamings per year for Societies and Associations like ours to visit. So put the date in your diaries now - it will be Sunday 2nd July 2006 and the cost will be £5 per head. Full details will be in the next newsletter.

ALSO...... Attached to the newsletter are a couple of articles which we believe are of interest.

With courtesy of FGW's Reach magazine (No.6 - Winter 2005) an item on performance - pertinent at the moment following recent performance - worse than the normal autumn results. Some causes of these problems are not the fault of First Great Western Link, but if a train is cancelled or delayed for whatever reason then our interface has to be FGWL, and it is up to them to explain carefully what has gone wrong. View the article (236 kbytes).

The other item, courtesy of Bourne End Community Association Target magazine (Oct/Nov 2005), presents scenarios on local facilities - branch line staff do a fine job. It is aggravating that no staff are available in reserve, but is almost endemic in the railway industry especially at smaller stations - we have been assured that local management is trying to address the problem. We hope this comes to fruition and we will have a more positive view to the present in future. It should also be pointed out that the problems of the 'Tesco' tunnel collapse on the Chiltern Line are fortunately vary rare, and that systems introduced as temporary measures can attract additional staff - however, we would have expected staff at Beaconsfield during the day irrespective of operating conditions.

This item will be provided on the web site shortly if possible.

FINALLY...... All that remains is for us to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year from the committee; we look forward to your continuing support in 2006.

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Last updated 12th December, 2005