The One Foot in the Grave star, Richard Wilson has done well to document a chronic and abysmal problem for commuters on a train service which I’ve long known about and highlighted. Namely, you’d be lucky to get a seat on some of the First Great Western services. Richard’s “Train Journey’s from Hell” aired on Channel 4 this week and documented a typical train journey for thousands of commuters using their trains, in this case the Reading to Paddington service. In fact, a recent Freedom of Information request made to the Department of Trasport exposed that First Great Western topped the league of the most crowded train services and operated 7 out of the top 10.
As far back as 2007, I tabled a motion (para 10.16) about Great Western’s service, specifically referencing the problem of overcrowding. It was, I’m pleased to say unanimously agreed. Yet passengers, who in the main are simply trying to get to work, are still unlikely to get a seat.
So when The London Assembly’s Transport Committee heard from Transport for London about the impact of Crossrail around West London, it was useful to have the opportunity to raise this issue with them again and question how these services would be improved by the introduction of Crossrail? The reply came from the Managing Director of London Underground Mike Brown. In short because, some of the most crowded services also happen to be the long distance ones, they won’t be improved by Crossrail, but I’m told steps like the electrification of the Great Western main line to Newbury and Oxford and a new fleet of intercity trains will help alleviate overcrowding.
Hopefully the continued focus on the plight of First Great Western’s customers will eventually achieve a better deal for them. I certainly intend to keep track of progress.