Thursday, June 23, 2011

Arriva rant

This year, I have traveled on Arriva Wales trains maybe 8 times (if it was
more reliable I would use it a lot more). I can only think of 2 occasion when
the train between Birmingham and Machynleth has not been non-trivially late. The
early service seems to be OK, but deteriates through the day. If you
want to get to London for 6pm, leaving on the 5.45am service seems to
be wise. How does Green George cope?

It seems to now be common practise to stop a late train at Shewsbury,
making rail passenger up to an additional hour later. "You are late,
so lets do the 1 thing we can guarrantee will make you later". I must
admit to an internal Victor Meldew moment. Safety related issues which
delay a train and when the reasons are explained are fine by me, such
things happen. Little communcation and stopping a late service before
its destination I struggle with. Restrictions on ticket routing mean
you can't get the next train to Crewe or Stafford and travel ( without
buying a new ticket ) from there as the ticket issued by Arriva
explicitily requires travel via Brimingham.

The newly refusrbished rolling stock are still sheds on rails. Arriva need to focus on basics, i.e. trains
which complete their journey. I would rather travel in a open coal
truck that completed its journey according to the expected schedule
than what is curently on offer from Arriva.

I thought 3 hours contingency would be enough to get from Machynleth
to London to catch a Eurostar, but it seems not. The service is in my
recent experience now so unrealiable that it is useless for any
business use or same day connecting travel such as Eurostar or
flights. A lad infront of me in the "what the hell do we do now" queue
at Shrewsbury station missed a flight from Birmingham International airport.

I did find out that there are international conditions of travel where
on a delayed by one rail provider, if you produce evidence of such,
follow on rail proiders have to accomadate you on the next train at no
cost and Eurostar is included in this. Lesson is if one train operator
has a delayed train, a connecting operator can't charge you for a new

For the very helpful Arriva staff at Shrewsbury this was news, but
they did write me a short letter and stamp it which proved helpful with
Eurostar who were very accomadating.

I wish Arriva management had experienced the dearly departed Wrexham
and Shropshire service which I can only remember being more than a few
minutes late once. I don't see evidence of Arriva shaping up under
their new ownership, instead of granting a long franschise, its time
for WAG to point its very generous subsidy elsewhere.

Arriva virdict -> on the ground staff are great, but that is about it.

Have what seem to be routine serious delays been root caused? Are
there clusters of reasons? Have these questions been asked, but Arriva Wales management are either
ignoring the answers or not in a position to do anything about root
causes. I would be interested to know which as a lot of money has been
spent on this service.

Now Arriva Trains Wales is far too unreliable for even well planned business travel, this means more miles on the car to drive to Stafford Station.

1 comment:

  1. I get Arriva Trains Wales quite a lot - having not yet passed my driving test - and I'd say that they were on time about three-quarters of the time. I have a stack of compensation forms, and they do pay up (after a delay, but without any fuss).

    The issue with the line to Aber & Mach is that there's only one train every 2 hours, and the problems they have tend to take out an entire train. So when it goes wrong, it goes catastrophically wrong. I no longer consider the last train of the night to be an option.

    This leads to major contingency planning. For example - I'm running a pub quiz starting at 8.30pm tomorrow, and at a conference in Birmingham. I should be able to catch the 4.30 out of Brum to be at the quiz on time. However, if there's anything wrong with that train, I'm screwed. The chances of there being a fault are so high I can't risk it, so I'll be leaving the conference early and catching the 2.30. And as a further contingency, all the quiz stuff is with a colleague (in sealed envelopes etc. etc.) so he can step in when it all goes to shit as expected. Yes, for a 122 mile journey involving JUST ONE TRAIN, I'm leaving myself 6 hours & still expecting them to cock it up. Brilliant eh?