Thursday, 13 October 2011

A rather defensive letter from Mr Mark Hopwood

Dear Dom,

Thank you for your emails.

On Friday 7 October our 18:33 service to Penzance developed a mechanical problem in the Acton area. We were able to get that service up & running again however a number of following services were held up, including the 18:51 from Paddington.

On Monday morning, a signal problem, again in the Acton area caused a number of morning peak services to be delayed.

On Monday evening, your train was delayed when a goods train left too early. I know how odd that must sound but the timetable agreed, for all trains that operate on the network, be they freight, passenger or goods services, is very precise and if any train runs outside of their booked 'path' it causes all sorts of problems. Trains that should have run ahead of this goods train got caught behind instead. This caused a hold up at Airport Junction, one of the busiest junctions on our network, particular at peak time. Unfortunately, our 18:51 to Oxford was one of the trains affected.

The National Passengers Survey (NPS) is undertaken independently by Passenger Focus and includes all Train Operating Companies which operate in the UK. The last report for First Great Western saw us score 82% for 'overall customer satisfaction', and it goes without saying that we are always trying to better it, year on year. You can find more details here:

And yes we were named Train Operator of the Year in February 2010 following a significant improvement in the performance and reliability of our services compared to previous years. I am still very proud of this achievement, not just from a business perspective but on behalf of all our staff and colleagues for their dedication and hard work. We tend to receive the most attention when thing go wrong, which is of course understandable, but we've also made good progress. We'll carry on doing our best to improve our service for our customers, which is our most important goal.

Kind regards

Mark Hopwood
Managing Director

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