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“Please help me persuade First Great Western Railway to put more carriages on the Barnstaple to Exeter route” – Jenny Fowler


Jenny Fowler

There are only two carriages on the route between Barnstaple and Exeter. Many people on a regular basis have to stand for the whole journey.

Problem History

  • 1 Jenny Fowler reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 13:39 30 Aug 2011
  • 2 Jenny Fowler wrote to First Great Western Railway close 13:39 30 Aug 2011

    Here is the letter that Jenny Fowler wrote.

    Lack of carriages

    There are only two carriages on this route. Many people have to stand for the whole journey in either direction. I found it embarrassing for German tourists who had obviously arrived in the UK from Bristol airport to have to stand all the way from Exeter to Barnstaple. Why can't Great Western use more carriages on this route? There were enough people to warrant this.

  • 3 First Group Response responded to Jenny Fowler close 13:51 30 Aug 2011
    Thank you for contacting First Great Western. We confirm receipt of your e-mail and aim to forward a full response within 5 working days. If you have a more urgent issue that needs resolving please telephone on 08457 000125 where we will try to give a faster resolution.

    Please note that you will not be able to reply direct to this email, however if you wish to contact us further by email then please use the address below.

    [email address]
  • 4 Chris Smith commented close 19:36 30 Aug 2011

    I don't like to be negative, but First Group don't have any extra carriages and aren't going to order any. Eventually (2018?) , Electrification schemes like Crossrail and Liverpool-Manchester will free up trains for use elsewhere, which might make there way south. Sorry.

  • 5 FGW Customer Relations responded to Jenny Fowler close 23:48 30 Aug 2011
    First Great Western
    Customer Services Team
    PL4 6ZZ

    Tel: 08457 000 125
    Fax: 08456 008 363
    [First Great Western Railway problem reporting email]

    Ref: 6162870

    Dear Jenny Fowler

    Thank you for your email of 30 August 2011. I am sorry you had such a crowded journey between Barnstaple and Exeter Central. We realise how uncomfortable and inconvenient it can be to travel on crowded trains and I apologise.

    Your comfort is a real concern for us and we constantly monitor our services using customer feedback to help us identify how we can do better. We try very hard to provide the best service possible. Despite this, there will be some services that are more popular than others and can become crowded.

    On this route these service are planned to have two carriages and I apologise that you had a problem. Whilst adding additional carriages may seem like an obvious solution, rolling stock is a major challenge for most train operators as there is simply not enough stock available in the UK at the moment. You may also feel that a train operator should commit to the purchase and construction of extra stock; however this is not always possible if a company is not able to see a return on investment over a relatively short franchise period.

    We are not ignoring this issue and we have taken a number of positive steps to improve things, including;

    · Carrying out regular reviews of our timetable and rolling stock allocation, to ensure we make the best use of the trains and pathways available to us.
    · Increasing the number of seats on our High Speed Trains as part of their refresh programme.
    · Increasing the number of reduced rate tickets we sell to encourage customers to travel on quieter services and spread passengers loadings as evenly as we can.
    · Negotiating with the Department for Transport to secure replacement vehicles for use in Bristol and the South West. This will provide better capacity at peak times and more comfortable journeys.
    · Reviewing the storage of luggage and agreeing a discount for FGW customers using the Carry My Luggage service (details are available on our website)
    · Working with Network Rail on strategies to develop services on the Great Western route over the next ten years.

    Thank you again for contacting us and I hope that future journeys with us will be more comfortable and enjoyable.

    Yours sincerely

    Edward Alphonso
    Customer Services Advisor

    *** Your feedback is really important to us so we would be very grateful for a couple of moments of your time to complete our customer satisfaction survey. If you would like to participate, please click on the link below. ***

    First Great Western Limited. Registered in England & Wales No. 05113733.
    Registered office: Milford House, 1 Milford Street, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 1HL.

    First Rail Holdings Limited. Registered in England No. 5154485. Registered office: 50 Eastbourne Terrace, Paddington, London W2 6LG.

    This message is confidential. It may not be disclosed to, or used by, anyone other than the addressee. If you receive this message in error, please advise us immediately.

    Internet email is not necessarily secure. First does not accept responsibility for changes to any email which occur after the email has been sent. Attachments to this email could contain software viruses which could damage your system. First have checked the attachments for viruses before sending, but you should virus-check them before opening.

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  • 6 Jenny Fowler commented close 10:22 26 Jan 2012

    I have heard that First Great Western are to provide more carriages in the future lets hope they do.

  • 7 s norkett commented close 08:10 08 Apr 2012

    we travelled yesterday easter sat 6/4/2012 NO SEATS IN FACT NO ROOM TO MOVE VERY VERY DANGEROUS what would have happened if somone had a heart attack??
    please campaign for more carriages

  • 8 Chris Smith commented close 12:10 09 Apr 2012

    The Barnstaple route is one of many across Britain with severe overcrowding problems. In every case there are no extra carriages available. FGW could only put more carriages on the Barnstaple line by taking them from somewhere else. The blame ultimately lies with the Government, which sets the terms by which a franchise holder such as FGW runs its franchise. These terms might or might not include purchase of new trains or the eventual acquisition of existing trains from another franchise when it acquires new trains. Arriva Trains Wales, for example, has the same number of carriages in 2012 as it had in 2003, while passengers have increased by73%. However, it is a fundamental law of the operation of railways in Britain that the Government never allows sufficient trains to be acquired to meet passenger demand, which, instead, is controlled by massive fare increases every year. To summarize: FGW IS HELPLESS (NOT HOPELESS): IT'S THE GOVERNMENT'S FAULT.

  • 9 Neil Thomas-Childs commented close 17:36 14 Apr 2012

    It is FGWs management of the stock that is of issue and of no use to the lower part of the South West, including Barnstaple.

    From a recent press release, available on their website - - it can be seen that they do not think it important to stregthen the stock down here.

    "First Great Western has successfully secured and is investing in 48 additional carriages, which will come into service between February and September 2012.

    Devon and Cornwall

    One of the vehicles will be used to strengthen the Truro to Falmouth line, allowing all services on the line to run as two carriage units. Over the day this will add 2,100 seats, and will double capacity on key services including the 0747 Falmouth-Truro.

    The other vehicle will strengthen services between Paignton, Exmouth, Exeter and Barnstaple. This adds 270 seats through the morning and evening peaks, and alleviates the capacity issues affecting school children and commuters on the 1554 and 1655 services from Paignton." (There is no 1554 service from Paignton but FGW can't seem to grapse this even though I have emailed them twice and they have promised to change it to the correct time of 1613 both times)

    2 coaches out of 48 is not going to make any difference to overcrowding in D&C.

    Although you can also read "This investment is in addition to the six carriages for Bristol (creating 900 additional seats) announced in August 2011, and the 30 carriages whose future was secured in the West Country last year" in this same article, this had no effect on Devon and Cornwall as FGW removed a similar number of coaches and so this had no effect on easing overcrowding on any of the D&C lines. The coaches that were removed could have been kept on to help with this. Yes, they were old, but they had been using them for years without getting rid of them and some of the stock that replaced them is worse in terms of space, seat numbers and comfort.

  • started 30 August 2011
  • supporters 8
Train route between Barnstaple and Exeter Central operated by First Great Western Railway
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