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First North Western

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First North Western was a train operating company in the United Kingdom serving North West England. A subsidiary of First Group, it lost its franchise in 2004. The company when first privatised was known as North Western Trains and was owned by Great Western Trains which was a partnership between Great Western's management and First Group. Eventually First bought the management team out and renamed the company. North Western Trains took over from the British Rail sector North West Regional Railways which was known for a short time as Network North West. First North Western services are now mainly operated by Northern Rail with Manchester Airport to Windermere/Barrow services are now operated by TransPennine Express, Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno, London/Crewe to Holyhead, Bidston to Wrexham and Llandudno to Ffestiniog services operated by Arriva Trains Wales and Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston services operated by Virgin Trains.

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      25.07.2004 01:08
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      First North Western are one of Britains privatised train companies. They offer train services across much of the North of England. They operate a number of routes with Manchester being where there core business is although they operate routes as far south as Birmingham, as far east as Sheffield, as far west as Wales, Liverpool and Blackpool and as far north as Carlisle. I have had a number of experiences of travelling with First North Western, all very good I am pleased to say. I have travelled to various sporting events in the north with First and also several trips to Manchester Airport to which they offer a very frequent service. They operate a number of different trains most of which are 2 or 3 carriages in length which can sometimes lead to overcrowding problems but this is only on the busiest routes in the peak and also at times where i've been to sporting events which means the trains obviously are busy. Unfortunately the high price of rolling stock means its probably uneconomical for a regional company like North Western to be able to afford and justify the purchase of a lot of new trains. However over the last couple of years they have invested in some brand new trains which are very good, with air conditioning, CCTV, excellent disabled access and passenger information displays. There are some quite old trains operating but these are always found on the smaller local routes with the new trains typically operating on routes to wales. I have always found First to be a reasonably punctual operator. I cannot ever recall being heavily delayed on one of there services. As for staff well like all companies they have some good and some bad although i've never had any bad experiences. I have experienced some good though one in particular was when we were lost in the middle of Oldham after going to a football match! The only station we could find was one called Hollinwood which is somewhere near Oldham although on comnpletely the wrong line
      as to the one we needed to be on and where our ticket was from!! The conductor was very sympathetic to our cause and allowed us to travel with the ticket we had and helped us get back on track because as he said Oldham isn't the best place for strangers to be stuck in on a Saturday night (especially in opposition football shirts)! First offer a wide range of discount tickets which are of use to both commuters and others. If I lived in the First region I would certainly look to travel on their train services because the traffic is an absolute nightmare and they offer an extremely reliable and frequent service particularly around the Manchester area where services are funded by GMPTE who are the passenger transport executive which funds additional train and bus services in the areas they are required. They offer some competitive discounted season tickets for commuters between certain stations, DUO tickets where 2 adults travelling together can get a discount of upto 20% and also a number of deals for discounted attractions at places across the north west. It is quite astonishing actually that the equivalent fares seem so cheap here in comparison with my local operator, Central Trains. Overall in my experience travelling on various routes around the north west, I really must reccommend First North Western and would urge drivers to give them a crack because driving around Manchester in the rush hour cant be fun!

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        01.10.2003 06:38
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        I am a regular traveller on FNW's trains and whilst I consider them good value and generally better than driving, I think they could improve somewhat. Regular travellers will be aware that over the last year passengers have suffered a number of strikes, reduced timetables due to industrial action and complete closures of some sections of line (for weeks at a time). FNW use various excuses for not counting these in the passenger charter figures (e.g pre advertised etc..) however the bottom line is the trains didn't run, the replacement buses were ever non existant or double the normal journey time. And to cap it all FNW's charter figures show an improvement (less trains running mean less are delayed!) so although passengers suffer reduced service, they get no compensation. (climb down off soap box..) I do find the service provided at stations and on trains variable, although the vast majority of staff are friendly and helpful. The biggest area they need to address is helping passengers in times of disruption (something Virgin Trains are much better at, although they probably get more practice!). It is not acceptable to just say the train is delayed and not give any advice about the likely delay, cause of delay or alternative routes. The freephone train running line is usually good and will give precise details on the whereabouts of any FNW train (0800 528 0200) but when things go wrong over a large area you cannot get through to them. What would also make a difference is train running displays at all stations (Cheshire County Council are installing displays at most bus stops, surely we could fit most stations!). This is particularly important at stations with multiple routes and may even help trains run on time as there wouldn't be a queue of people asking the guard if it is the right train. Finally it is worth mentioning the travel assitance service, this is fantastic for elderly people travelling alone and needing to chang
        e trains, but must be prebooked with FNW. I have booked the service for my Nan several times. Obviously it is not available at all stations, but it most useful at the major stations in any case.

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          22.05.2001 21:34
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          I am a regular commuter, and every day i travel from Manchester Victoria to Liverpool Lime Street. Every day i am greeted by a cheerful young lady at the manchester victoria ticket office who always reccommends the cheapest ticket for me to buy, I am then without any need for prompting advised of which platform my train will be leaving from and if there are any delays on it. I have to say that although a lot of the fares are steep, these are predominately set by the British Railways board and are more often than not set by First north western. Sadly the train crews on these services are very hit & miss. One day you can come across someone who has just had his puppy shot, and the next day you can have someone who cant do enough 4 u. On arrival at Lime street, there is always an apology going over the tannoy when i arrive and normally i am constantly informed of progress of any on going delays. I have to say that with rumours of arriva trains taking over first north westerni am a tad concerned and i appreciate that sometimes FNW get it wrong but for once i have to defend them and say i have relatively good experiences of them.

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          14.05.2001 21:47
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          People can rarely choose where to live and work, but they can choose their mode of transport. For those living and working in the North West, you could do worse than choose First North Wastern (was North West Trains). Most of Manchester's most congested roads have equivalent rail routes, so if you spend your mornings staring at the back end of some else's Ford Focus, go on, give rail a try! fNW are one of Britain's 25 Train Operating Companies (TOCs), private companies entrusted with operating regional and Inter-City rail franchises. fNW's major market is commuter traffic into Manchester, although it operates trains as far afield as Barrow, Blackpool and Bangor. Much of it's operation falls within the region controlled by the GMPTE which sets fares and timetables for bus, rail and tram services within Greater Manchester. fNW commuter services are generally reliable and hassle-free, although some routes (notably the peak time Blackpool via Bolton services) are grossly overcrowded. At the moment, fNW is seriously short of trains, and can't really afford to order any more. At the time of writing, they are commissioning a fleet of brand new trains, although they are due to wihdraw a similar number of old units so this won't help the overcrowding. One problem with the current rail setup in this country is that the TOCs don't own their trains, they are leased from financial companies like Angel Trains or HSBC Rail. This means TOCs can't justify ordering new trains unless they will generate enought extra revenue to cover the lease costs. Having cast this gloomy picture, it has to be said that most trains on most routes are fine, especially the electrified routes. For example, my regular commuter line (Hadfield and Glossop) receives a 20 minute peak time frequency and is rarely crowded. It is generally reliable, although in wet Autumns reliability takes a nose-dive as the old leaves-on-the-line problem surfa
          ces again. Published figures show fNW services average around the 90% reliability mark (i.e. 90% of trains arrive within 5 minutes of their timetabled time). fNW are one of the few TOCs to have a real-time train running display on their website. For the regular commuter, weekly annual or monthly passes are good value, especially if you travel within the GMPTE boundary when you can use Train Cards and County Cards (the former allows unlimited rail travel, and the latter unlimited bus and train travel). Currently, the monthly County Card is about 68 quid. For the leisure traveller, off-peak fares are good, and are somtimes combined with special offers at rail-served tourist attractions (e.g. Blackpool Pleasure Beach). There's usually some sort of group discount available too, so it's worth asking at your local station. fNW station and on-train staff are generally approachable and helpful although as anywhere there are good and bad members of staff. Station staff are often quite busy, especially at Piccadilly, but will usually point you in the right direction if they can. The trouble is, in today's fragmented and disorganised railway, they probably don't have a clue what's going on either!

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            10.05.2001 18:13
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            It's 7.30am, very cold and I'm runnig to the train station as per usual. I'm greeted by a woman from the Metro in a very bright yellow jacket who hands a free newspaper to me with a very cheery smile and a very high pitched "Morning". It always makes me wonder how this woman (who's newspaper-handing-out shift starts at 6) can manage to be so happy every single morning! Hmm... Anyway, I rush past the guards and flash my pass at them in the manner of an FBI agent (Very cool) and race onto the platform to wait for my usual commuter train. Taking my seat on the red poles on the platform, which are definitely NOT designed for sitting I flick through my freebie paper. I look up and see my train approaching. This is it..my daily battle...GET ON THAT TRAIN! I have a very good but very simple plan of at least getting onto the train which is that I know exactly (well..almost) where the train doors will be and I very plonk myself in that very place ready to press the Open button. At this point I'm surrounded by equally sad people who know exactly where the doors are going to be and I can hear the hostile commuters around me growling fiercely because they too are going to fight me for that last seat! The train halts and everyone impatiently await for the golden doors of the trains to open.....they slooowly open...AND THEN THEY'RE OFF! Oh - actually...don't forget (As someone always does)..to let the people off first! The commuters getting off the train tut at us as they push past. Anyway ...AND THEY'RE OFF! People impatiently move like sardines in a can and to clamber onto the little train. I manage to get on ..YES! But now, for my second mission..find a seat..any seat! I walk down the carriage and spot an empty seat and start to walk as fast as I possibly can whilst trying not to knock out the person in front of me. This person has found their seat also and I must wait patiently behind them and grrrit
            my teeth whilst they take an eternity to park their bums down! I walk, sit and SCORRRRRRE! The seat is mine! Now...enjoy the scenery ...aahh! Scary huh! Thats my journey to work every day. I found the commuters lifestyle a nightmare to live with at first especially as I'm little and for some reason people like to knock and batter me alot. I don't mind if it's accidentla and the person apologises but trains and train seats seem to make people forget their manners - All very annoying! North western trains are pretty reliable (if you forget the big low time all trains had) and are sometimes slightly early! (Shock...swoon!). you'll find that alot of stations around the northwest now have gurads to check your tickets, which means if you intend running for a train thats already on the platform then you may as well not bother as the guards WILL NOT let you onto the actual platform until you have purchased a ticket. This can be slightly frustrating because it means that your family cannot simply wave you off. Although, the staff on the trains are pretty nice people considering what they put up with from some customers. Train fares are reasonable but if you're a commuter like me then a monthly pass is an ideal purchase. My pass allows me to travel between Bolton and Manchester for £68 and this includes all trains and busses. This is very very cheap as a daily ticket to Manchester Heald Green (The station I get off at) costs £5 - see? Bargain or what! North Western trains are not express trains but the travel times are reasonable, unless of course you count Winter. I've learned over time to expect poor reliability around winter times and times when it rains alot because in my experience there has always been at least one train that is very delayed - it's funny sometimes to listen to the reasons as to why the train has been delayed. e.g."There is rain on the track". NW train
            s operate througout england although it is not as extensive as Viginand they tend to have more services in the North West I think. (Correct me if I'm wrong). They do actually have a service that runs from Manchester Airport to London Euston which is handy to know if Virgin are all booked up! People sometimes ask me why I don't drive to work, the answer is very simple. I can't afford a car..hmph!

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            First North Western was a train operating company in the United Kingdom serving North West England. A subsidiary of First Group, it lost its franchise in 2004. The company when first privatised was known as North Western Trains and was owned by Great Western Trains which was a partnership between Great Western's management and First Group. Eventually First bought the management team out and renamed the company. North Western Trains took over from the British Rail sector North West Regional Railways which was known for a short time as Network North West. First North Western services are now mainly operated by Northern Rail with Manchester Airport to Windermere/Barrow services are now operated by TransPennine Express, Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno, London/Crewe to Holyhead, Bidston to Wrexham and Llandudno to Ffestiniog services operated by Arriva Trains Wales and Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston services operated by Virgin Trains.