Newest Review: ... one, even if its empty, you will get charged a new fare on board. My first problem with FGW is that you are paying a lot of money for publ... more
The train company with the doors of death
First Great Western
Member Name: jennikitten
First Great Western
Advantages: Clean enough
Disadvantages: The DOORS!!!
As I spend many, many days travelling up and down the country, I'm very familiar with the First Great Western service as I live in the south west. Often it is my beginning train service to get to a main station before continuing my journey north.
The First Great Western trains are quite distinctive, being a purple-y blue colour with pink doors and dashes of pink in the logo. They look about fifty years old, and they probably are. All of the trains I get with First Great Western have manual doors rather than automatic, which is a complete pain in my opinion because they can be dangerous swinging open and half shut too easily on the platform. I see a lot of people struggling off the train with their luggage and almost killing themselves trying to push the door back as it swings forward to shut. Additionally, many people in this area commute as there are a range of cities, and so it slows down passengers getting on and off, particularly when the trains are delayed which happens fairly frequently.
It also creates more work for the station staff as they have to close all the doors, check them etc. It is also less energy efficient because despite the signs, more often than not the windows remain open at the ends of the carriages (because you need to reach outside and grab the door handle). Terrible design, and not particularly easy for the disabled, the short, the infirm, those with lots of luggage, those with children etc.
Inside the trains, the seats are generally a greyish colour. As with all UK trains, there isn't enough space for luggage. Though I know this and travel light with a shoulder bag, there is inevitably the person or family with 25 pieces of luggage, perfectly sized so it won't fit under the seats, in the overhead rack, or in the overflowing luggage store. This usually means the gangway gets blocked or someone insists they booked an extra seat for their suitcase (?!).
As the train I get most often is one from London, I have always been able to get a seat as the train is so long - one of the few positives.
First Great Western is also the only train company that sticks in my head that provides full safety information on a leaflet for every seat (rather than on a randomly placed poster). I've never seen anyone read this but at least it's there.
Last few points: the trains are usually clean enough, I've never seen a trolley service but there's often a buffet carriage, and the toilets are best avoided when possible, as on any train. There are also no opening windows in the carriages themselves, but there is air conditioning.
Overall, the biggest problem with FGW for me is the horrible doors of death. That and when they're late, it's often by half an hour or more. Otherwise, not too bad.
Summary: Average, overall.
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