Friday 29 January 2010

First Capital Connect : Lies, distortions and untruths

First Capital Connect are going into PR overdrive to try and head off the threat to their franchise. This morning must be the first morning for months where the on line departure board hasn't shown a stack of "operating issues". My guess is that they are currently throwing the kitchen sink at the service, sanctioning overtime left, right and centre & possibly even delaying regaular maintenance to ensure all possible units are in service (this last statement is pure speculation, based on a private email from someone who claims to work for FCC - if First Capital Connect would like to comment on this, I'll print their response). They are doing this in the hope that the pressure dies down and they can "get away with it". Yesterday they did a meet the managers session and had a spokesperson on ITV London reports.

What infuriated me was the blatant Lies, the distortions and the untruths which have emerged. Michelle Smart from First Capital Connect said this on ITV London Reports  (The report starts at 5:36) :-
I don't think the companies worried about being stripped of it's franchise. The company knows what the ministers are indicating is that we need to deliver for our customers who value their time and we need to make sure that we can get them from A to B on time and that's what we are doing at the moment we had a good timetable last week, we're running a good timetable this week
Firstly, do you really believe that they are "not worried". If that is true, then they have either received private assurances and the Labour Transport Minister Lord Adonis is lying, or they are so completely out of touch with reality that they are clueless. Second, the blatant porkie. They say they ran a good timetable last week and they are running a good timetable this week. I've been monitoring the journey check board and today is the first trouble free day for months. Every late rush hour train inconveniences approx 500 people. A good timetable is one where all trains are the advertised length and all trains are on time. If you use the line, you'll know that this hasn't happened.

The next blatant distortion I want to expose, again pure hearsay, but believeable. It was contained in a comment by "fijago" on the I Hate First Capital Connect noticeboard - He quoted one of the managers "Julie" who was at St Pancras last night. Fijago said
She also just kept going on about how even though she lives in Northampton she prefers to travel in from Welwyn on FCC as she thinks it is a better service
Here the devil is in the detail. Firstly she probably gets a free ticket as an employee (or at least a heavy discount). Secondly, if she lives in Northampton, her nearest FCC station is Bedford. Welwyn is a considerably longer drive and on the Great Northern section of the route. Bedford is 21.5 miles from Northampton, Welwyn is 48.1 Miles from Northampton. Julie is actually saying she'd rather drive over 26 miles out of her way to avoid the FCC Thameslink route. That sums it up.

There is also a report on BBC London where Michelle Smart says that passengers are happy with the service over the last two weeks since Jan 17th (click on embedded interview). This woman is either deluded or just thinks we are stupid.

My challenge to Lord Adonis is this. If you want to improve ALL railway services for ALL passengers, strip the FCC franchise. This will send ALL operators a message they CAN'T ignore. Can Lord Adonis really let FCC take the mickey out of him by saying they are "not worried"?

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