When questioned by they would not stop IETs at Pilning, GWR came up with the following excuse: –
Giving a station clearance for IETs to set down / pick up at a station requires a significant amount of work and is particularly in-depth for this type of rolling stock – it includes a variety of safety checks, measurements, calculations, upgrading of systems and software, and physical testing. We can fulfil our service level commitment by stopping an alternative service at Pilning formed of stock that already has the necessary clearance in place.
Is this enough to put us off demanding a better service?
Here’s what we wrote back: –
Thank you – but this is far too vague to be an acceptable reply, and I cannot believe that it can be so difficult to stop a new-design train at a station which already meets the stringent present-day requirements for other types of rolling stock. In any case, we know that it is easy enough to adjust the SDO programming for changing situations, eg sections of “long” platforms being temporarily closed for repairs etc, because such a situation was included in a report in the railway press when the writer went on a test run a few months ago. I strongly suspect that your managers are trying to fob me off with excuses and jargon – but I have been involved in transport issues for a long time, I know a lot about the subject, and that approach will not wash with me. Could you therefore please give me the full details of all the safety checks, measurements, system/software upgrades and physical testing that would be required in order to stop one Class 800 a week at Pilning – and clarify why these were not done for Pilning at the same time as they were being done for all other stations?
The claim that the December timetable change still meets your service obligation is also open to challenge. Before Pilning’s westbound service was withdrawn, its afternoon train called at around 15 30, so the “replacement” second eastbound service was required to replicate that as closely as possible, as a condition of being allowed to withdraw it and demolish the footbridge. GWR had intended at that time to make it the 15 34, but were unable to do so initially as at that time the stock working it was too long and did not have SDO. However, they recognised that this was not an adequate replacement, so it was replaced with a 15 34 stop as soon as this became feasible. To backtrack on that now – even though the 15 34 WILL have SDO – is therefore quite unacceptable, and would appear to breach the condition referred to above.
In my particular case, the retiming will cause me inconvenience as it makes it more difficult to combine a return from visiting friends in Swansea with stopping off to visit friends in Pilning. It also inconveniences them as it makes their day trips an hour shorter. Finally, as one of the end doors of the Class 800s is not for public use and all the doors used by passengers could be fitted onto the platform, surely the trains could stop there anyway if two stop boards a short distance apart were provided for drivers?
I look forward to receiving your further reply covering the above points.