Meet the directors

30th September 2011

This forum has now closed - thank you for taking part.



Question number 64

From phil gent

Q

Hi
do you plan to upgrade any stations using the NSIP money availble?. If so which stations


A

Hi Phil,

We have a number of schemes already approved under NSIP and we have made further submissions, which we are awaiting approval on.

Unfortunately the list is too extensive to put on this forum. If you have any questions regarding specific stations then please get in touch.

Kind regards,

FCC


Question number 63

From Mark Chaplin

Q

Since the last forum there has been 2 unfortunate incidents at crossings leading to damage to rolling stock, and my sympathies go to the passengers and FCC staff affected.

Looking at the picture from last weekend I guess that train will be out of action for a while. Do you plan to hire in any others to cover to reduce risk of short formations and cancellations?


A

While the damaged stock makes train allocation more difficult, we are able to cover with our 317 stock until the damaged 365s are repaired.


Question number 62

From Jonathan Morris

Q

I've since forgotten the exact train it was (at the time I had this and the head code - but I can't see messages I've sent via Twitter) but it was on August 22nd on one of the evening semi-fast services to Welwyn Garden City. It would likely have been the 1803 from Finsbury Park, but sometimes I get an earlier/later one.

It was a service that was diverted to the down fast, and I also have photos of the the mirror for 3/4/6 car - with the 8 stuck on above. I am sure you can measure whether an 8-car train can fit if the driver stops at the mirror, given it's nearly one coach further back from the end of the platform. Has Network Rail been doing maintenance work there in the summer?


A

Thank you for the clarification Jonathan. This will be passed on to our operations team who will take another look at the information they have.


Question number 61

From Mark Chaplin

Q

All this sunshine reminds me of a point I have raised before. Is there any news on anti glare screens on ticket machines?

The machine on the platform 2 side at Royston is impossible to use on sunny afternoons because of glare.


A

We have ordered a number of new anti glare screens and a programme for planned replacements has been drawn up and these will be installed as has they have been delivered to our installation supplier


Question number 60

From Simon Rarter

Q

Thanks for the response below

Throughout the disruption we asked customers to use the Thameslink service St Albans where replacement bus services were in place to take customers to Hatfield.
However this not true, when i asked at 18:45 what the options were i was advised to go to Ali Pali and get a train from there. I then walked over to St Pancreas and asked if FCC had laid on buses from St Albans and i was advised nothing had been put in place. I then went back to Kings Cross at 19:00 and was again advised by another member of FCC staff to go to Ali Pali.
When i got to St Albans I asked the FCC staff if any buses had been put on and got told nothing had been organised. Therefore i ad to get a taxi home and yet again i am out of pocket.

Thanks

Simon





A

Thanks for your feedback Simon.

We will forward this on to the route managers who will investigate the advice staff were passing on to customers.


Question number 59

From Mark Chaplin

Q

On Friday I was stuck at Cambridge for nearly 2 hours waiting for a train to Royston. Can someone please explain:

a) why OHL down at Littleport should result in cancellation of 3 consecutive trains from Cambridge to Royston?

b) why waiting travellers were not told this, instead of being misled by informations screens and announcements that these trains would run?

c) why FCC split two consecutive trains at Cambridge, sending front portions on to Ely, while having no drivers to move the bits left behind, thus blocking both through platforms and completely disrupting movements in and out of the station?

I know these situations are difficult but in this case I have to say that I thought FCC's response very poor.


A

Mark,

The OHL down at Littleport caused severe displacement of our drivers, which as you comment then caused issues at Cambridge with congestion.

We carry out a full review into all such incidents and will make sure your feedback forms part of this review.


Question number 58

From Jonathan Morris

Q

I was ON the train concerned. I witnessed it myself, so might I suggest the CCTV evidence was checked for the wrong train/time/day?

The train concerned would normally use the slow, but was moved out due to congestion, so it isn't something that would normally happen. I expect very few trains stop on the fast, just as very few stop on platform 2 at Hatfield.


A

Dear Jonathan,

We will another look at the incident for you.  


Question number 57

From Peter Skuce

Q

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PHIL SAYER ANNOUNCEMENTS?

I have noticed that the automated announcement system at St. Albans has been replaced with Phil Sayer’s voice replaced by a female’s voice which is not as effective in announcing when a fast train is approaching. With the Phil Sayer announcement, it was very clear indeed stating ‘stand well away from the edge of Platform 3, a fast train is approaching’. It was also very authoritative in manner and style, as well as being clearer and so easier to hear. The new announcement states ‘stand back from the edge of Platform 3, the approaching train is not scheduled to stop here’. Please could First Capital Connect bring back the Phil Sayer announcement system?


A

Hi Peter,

We will pass your comments on for feedback.


Question number 56

From Mark Chaplin

Q

I had trhe misfortune to be caught up in both the Friday evening incident when the OHL came down at Littleport and on Monday when the rats ate the signal cables.

On both occasions the information provided to travellers was wrong or misleading. This applied to on screen at stations and on the internet, but most importantly to auto generated audio announcements at stations.

In situations like this Digital Doris should be switched off and proper announcements made by someone fed with up to date explanations.


A

Dear Mark,

Thank you for your feedback. First of all please accept our sincere apologies for the delays to yoru journeys.

After any period of major disruption we review our customer information and look at where can improve in the future. Your comments will be fed back to the relevent manager who will see what improvements can be made.


Question number 55

From L Armstrong

Q

Can I commend your staff on their approach to the enforcement of cycle policy, please!

It is a nonsense to insist that bikes be folded as soon as you're past the barriers, just to keep joyless Daily Heil readers happy. They are more obstructive being carried folded than wheeled to the train, where they can easily be folded and popped on board.

It works, people know it works, and it's only the perennial poundshop Jeremy Clarksonesque whingers who get upset.


A

Thanks for the feedback Lance.

We will certainly take your comments onboard.  


Question number 54

From Steve Alston

Q

I worked in revenue protection for over ten years, some of which was for another FirstGroup company. While I appreciate it is not an easy job, why is revenue protection at FCC always in for criticism by customers, and what can be done to reverse that?

Does FCC acknowledge it is a fairly unique problem to them, only affecting it's franchise.


A

Steve

This is a difficult job as you say no matter what TOC a Revenue Protection Officer works for. At FCC, the number of complaints relating to their conduct has decreased while the amount of fare evasion being detected is increasing. We provide training to our staff and always investigate any accusations of improper behaviour.


Question number 53

From Peter Skuce

Q

ADDITIONAL CYCLE AND MOTORBIKE SPACES AT HAYWARDS HEATH

In addition to the redevelopment of East Croydon, I also note that Southern are investing in £300,000 to provide additional cycle and motorbike parking spaces at Haywards Heath on the Brighton Mainline (Thameslink route). There will be 300 cycle spaces and up to 100 motorcycle spaces will be provided overall in the station car park, with 160 of these spaces sited in a former car valet building. The project is already underway with the refurbishment and fit-out of the old car valeting building which will have two-tier parking for 160 bicycles, secure lockers, a changing room and toilets. Again please could someone at First Capital Connect make a note of this?


A

Yes we will do, thank you Peter.


Question number 51

From Jonathan Morris

Q

Do you know why an 8-car stop sign was placed so far back at New Southgate on the down fast, such that a 321 (8-car) driver stopped there, resulting in passengers alighting from the rear first class section having to jump down onto the ground, as the platform ramp was further along.

I assumed the driver had accidentally forgotten the length of the train, but that didn't make sense as it was only one (or two) set of doors. Then I discovered the positioning of the stop sign - which is too far back for an 8-car train.

Please tell me this has been fixed now! I reported this via Twitter a while ago but wanted to check it had been addressed.


A

Hi Jonathan,

This issue was recently investigated and CCTV proved that this was simply not the case.

Kind regards.  


Question number 50

From Peter Skuce

Q

PASSENGERS TRAVELLING FROM GATWICK AIRPORT

Please can I bring it to your attention, that some passengers have bought tickets valid only on the Gatwick Express service from Gatwick Airport to London Victoria, only to have unwittingly made their way onto First Capital Connect Thameslink route services. This then means that they are at risk of paying a Penalty Fare, as they have boarded the wrong train by a pure simple honest mistake. Please could Network Rail employ staff on the platforms at Gatwick Airport to assist those passengers and point them to the correct train to board?


A

We are aware of this happening to customers. We do not Penalty fare these customers but allow them to purchase a new ticket and advise them to pursue a refund with Gatwick Express/ Southern The same happens in reverse when customers holding FCC Only tickets turn up on Southern / Gatwick Express services.


Question number 49

From G Biggleswade

Q

(Question 40)
This is easily solved either run the 16.22 to Peterborough instead of terminating at Huntingdon or as per my original question 2 the people for Peterborough can change at Biggleswade and pick up the 16.40 when it arrives. Simples, but obviously not for FCC.


A

We are unable to guarantee the connection at Biggleswade, to extend to the 1622 to Peterborough is not the best use of resources as we currently require this train to return to London in time to make up the 1910 departure to Peterborough.

All our passenger loading data suggests there are spare seats on the 1640 departure as previously stated.


Question number 48

From Gill Morris

Q

Hi

What happened to the spotlight on Drivers section, this seems to have disappeared. It seems that whatever happens that you still have issues with the lack of drivers if the number of canceled or delayed trains that can still be seen on a regular basis.

Thanks

Gill


A

Gill

Thanks for your question. The promised recruitment and training of drivers is complete now. We have the full compliment to cover the timetable but sometimes events such as late notice sickness, family crises, or transportation problems may mean a driver becomes unavailable at short notice leading to some train crew cancellations. We have also recruited the next wave of drivers that will cover for natural turnover of drivers going forward. 


Question number 47

From N Howard

Q

In response to your answer to me it seems a widespread problem but from my own regular travel, St Pancras seems the worst even when staff are approached they seem to not be bothered even though cycles are on platforms, trains stairs and escalators. As your policy only refers to folding bicycles it seems that unfolded folding cycles are not challenged.

West Hampstead is also a problem as are many of the stations south of St Albans


A

Thanks for letting us know the specifics. We will monitor and correct where the policy has not been followed correctly.


Question number 46

From Peter Scarce

Q

Will there be any morning peak 12 car services on the Thameslink route from Brighton in the Key Output 1 timetable?


A

Peter,

From 12th December this year we will lengthen our first services to 12-carriages. We will lengthen four services into London in the morning peak and four home again in the evening with a further two in the off-peak.

 

We will target these longer trains on our busiest services which suggests that three would run from Bedford in the morning (these run fast between St Albans and London) and one would run from Brighton. There would also be three 12-carriage services home to Bedford in the evening and one home to Brighton.

 

At this point we can confirm only the Bedford services.


Question number 45

From Simon Rarter

Q

Hi

Are the events of Monday evening on the Great Northern line a good example how FCC have failed on their intative to improve on customer information. Yet again the information was sparse and yet again i am £ 20 out of pocket after having to pay for a taxi back from St Albans. Also i should be grateful i ignored the advice from FCC to go to Ali Pali and wait for a train there.

Can you also give an update on how the blackberry rollout is going as on the last forum you mentioned changes had been made to your app as it was not working that effectively.

Thanks

Simon


A

Dear Simon,

Thank you for your feedback. We apologise for the disruption you experienced on Monday evening. Throughout the disruption we asked customers to use the Thameslink service St Albans where replacement bus services were in place to take customers to Hatfield.

We can confirm that the Blackberry app was rolled out to key customer facing staff throughout the summer. This is now being successfully utilised.

Kind regards,

FCC 


Question number 44

From Peter Skuce

Q

GREAT NORTHERN STOCK SHORTAGE

I note that the Great Northern route has recently had two Class 365 Networker Express EMU trains damaged in accidents. If the Great Northern route is short by two trains, then why not ask National Express East Anglia (NXEA) for two Class 317/7 EMU trains which are lying spare in carriage sidings at Harwich? The interiors are much nicer than the existing Class 317 that the company uses, as the Class 317/7 EMU trains received a complete, comprehensive refurbishment which included being fully carpeted throughout, the fitment of brand new and more comfortable seats, air conditioning and improved interior saloon lighting diffusers.


A

While the damaged stock makes train allocation more difficult, we are able to cover with 317 stock which we already lease.

We will get the 365s repaired as soon as possible and have these back in traffic for you.


Question number 43

From Jonathan Morris

Q

As every year passes, I continue to hear of delays to any plans to put lifts in at Hatfield to make the station more accessible. Now, it's the Olympics that will probably delay most projects.

Beyond that, will work ever likely take place at Hatfield to make it accessible, and possibly re-build the station and the surrounding car parks, to hopefully improve the pathetic mess with taxis, cars and buses all trying to negotiate each other.

Are there any actual plans to do anything there or just put things off until tomorrow - or the next franchise?

Also, with so many stations along the GN route now getting new cameras and screens for drivers - why can't Hatfield get this so 3, 4 and 6-car trains can stop near the bridge on platform 3?

I appreciate a lot of this is down to Network Rail, but I don't have an opportunity to ask them like you, the operator.


A

Hi Jonathan,

Many thanks for your question. First Capital Connect are meeting regularly with Network Rail and the Local Authority to discuss the schemes you have mentioned.

The Department for Transport announced an Access for All programme to deliver step-free access to stations across the UK. The scheme at Hatfield is still in the process of design, to ensure that the works meet all relevant standards. The scheme is due to be delivered during 2014. We will endeavour to provide updates on the progress of the scheme to the various stakeholders in due course.

FCC is also working with the same teams mentioned above to develop the front of the station including a new bus interchange, improved parking facilities and potentially new retail units. We have submitted a funding bid to obtain the relevant funds to deliver these improvements. If successful these improvements also need to be delivered by April 2014.


Question number 42

From Peter Skuce

Q

THE REFURBISHMENT OF EAST CROYDON

I note that East Croydon Station is being refurbished, however there is no mention of this on the First Capital Connect website. Also last weekend, the subway was closed to passengers so that engineers could drill bore holes to see if a footbridge could be installed at the London end of the station. Again this was not mentioned on the First Capital Connect website. Although East Croydon is managed and staffed by Southern, it is however a major interchange station on the Bedford - Brighton Thameslink service.

By the way, I note that there are a couple of questions already posted on this forum today that are alledgly from myself - this is not so and I can confirm that this is my first question today.


A

Peter,

We'll take your comments on board and see what can be done. We may be able to post the news with a link through to further information on Southern's website and we'll look at including a latest news section on our home page. Thanks!


Question number 41

From Dave Lee

Q

At St Neots on the Peterborough platforms there's an 'S' car stop sign. Can that be changed to be a 6 or 8 car stop with a 4 car stop further down the platform. It's really annoying having to walk back to the stairs and then back again into the car park when then the train is a 4 car. Thanks


A

Hi Dave,

Thank you for your feedback. We will certainly feed this back to the relevent team to see what can be done.


Question number 40

From G Biggleswade

Q

Question 30
WHy do you not want to answer the question about why Peterborough is excluded from off peak restrictions on the 16.40 train. If I ever board this train and seats are taken by people with their children travelling on off peak tickets I will be going into first class. I do not pay your company a fortune to stand.


A

Peterborough is excluded from the off-peak restrictions following representations from Passenger Focus and the Department for Transport to allow an easement as the last through service prior to 16.30 is the 15.36. Loading show that there currently a minimum of 80 seats available on this service, though we do acknowledge that this number was lower during the school holidays.   


Question number 39

From Jonathan Morris

Q

It's King's Cross that shows LTCEADL on dividing services (well, those that divide at Letchworth).

One of the many, many, mistakes with the new CIS.


A

Thank You


Question number 38

From J Evans

Q

What is the current timescale for the Hitchin Flyover works now that planning permission has been granted?


A

The flyover will be in operation from 2014, we are still working with Network Rail and the other Train Operators to confirm the strategy for it's construction.


Question number 37

From C Brown

Q

I understand that SouthEastern is investing in reducing the potential impact of the winter weather including increasing the number of de-icing trains and plans to run frequent de-icing services when needed. They have also worked with network rail to improve the infrastructure.

Can you let me know what FCC is doing to ensure that your poor response last year is not repeated even if conditions were the same.


A

FCC has been actively involved with the winterisation review which includes Network Rail and the other TOC's

Investments have been made in vehicle modifications, point heaters, 3rd rail heating and dedicated de-icing trains.


Question number 36

From C Johnson

Q

Hi,
Currently it does not appear possible to buy tickets with the Two Together railcard discount either online via FCC or at FCC ticket machines. Will this be addressed in the near future?
Thanks.


A

We are aware of this and is being addressed with our suppliers. However I can't give an estiamte as to when the discount will become available.


Question number 35

From Fay Kinnitt

Q

Can I just agree with the previous poster about how useful Ally is - a great investment to your company being one of those people who will explain things which people would not see on the service - for example explaining how trains 'slot in' to each other and explaining why some trains cannot stop at some places etc.
Unfortunately, the CISs at your stations are still rubbish, showing out of date information, half of them referring us to the WAGN website still, mixing trains up etc. I hope the issues get sorted out with this system soon - as I spend too long looking up on the internet on my phone information which should be available at the station more easily!


A

Hi Fay,

Thank you for your message. We will certainly pass on the praise to Ally.

We will also pass your feedback on to our customer information manager who will look into the issues you raise.


Question number 34

From J Evans

Q

Work is progressing with the platform extensions at Letchworth to take 12 coach trains.
I understand that 07:09 service to Kings Cross will be lengthened to 12 coaches in the future - when will this commence? Also which other 12-coach services are planned to call at Letchworth?



A

Hi,

We plan to commence 12 car operation on Monday 12th December 2011 on the 07:09 service. This forms part of the Thameslink Programme but is being delivered early to help deliver the much needed capacity. Further longer services are dependant on the rolling stock availability that could work on this route both of which is extremely limited. Currently further services are planned to be delivered when we receive the new Thameslink Rolling stock.


Question number 33

From A Smith

Q

With FCC at the bottom of the league when it comes to value for money I was wondering what your plans are to improve it or is it something you do not see as a priority especially with just 2 years to go on your franchise.


A

We are very unhappy to not score better in the National Passenger Survey on all questions. Studies quite clearly show that customers want punctuality first and foremost and if things go wrong, for us to be able to provide good customer information. In terms of punctuality, we have invested in train reliability improvements whaich are proving to be very successful. We have invested heavily in a number of customer information initiatives of which Twitter is the latest. We have a continual improvement program running to learn from our mistakes from disruption and this will continue regardless of our franchise ending in 2013.


Question number 32

From N Howard

Q

There continues to be poor control over ensuring your cycle policy is adhered to, especially in peak hours with unfolded cycles still on trains, platforms, stairs and escalators often creating major hazards and being in the way.
If you are serious about your policy, please can you consider:

-Clarifying the references in your policy about folding bikes to say that they must be folded during the time restriction. Your policy wording appears to allow unfolded folding bikes and some people take advantage of this..

-Display on stations and the timetable a map showing the peak hour cycle restrictions and relevant symbols so there is no ambiguity on which trains and for which sections the restrictions apply

- Brief your staff to ensure proper adherence. I have seen this done effectively at other rail companies so it can’t be that hard


A

We have recently rebriefed staff on the importance of adhering to this policy on the basis of similar feedback from customers. We have been made aware that this problem exists on certain parts of the route and we have increased surveilance to deal with it. If you could tell us which stations and/or trains you observe the policy not being adhered to then we will get staff out there to fix this.


Question number 30

From G Biggleswade

Q

Thank you for your answer to my question (2). Some days the 16.40 is not crowded but during the school holidays it was. At least 3 times a week people are standing.
If FCC are going to have a rule about off peak tickets then stick to it for everyone at all stations. COuld you please answer this point about why Peterborough is excluded from the restriction.

As regards the lengthening of platforms, December 2012 is a joke. The trains are already overcrowded plus we have the Olympics next year which will add to passenger numbers.


A

Re the 16.40 as previously stated we'll keep this service under review, but there are no plans to restrict the service.

The platform lengthening programme has been agreed


Question number 29

From Jonathan Morris

Q

At Potters Bar, people boarding the 0930 service to King's Cross are warned (by a manual announcement) that it is a peak train and that they could be liable to pay a penalty fare.

Isn't it the case that passengers would be liable to pay an excess in this case? Just as is the case in the evening peak (if it applies)?


A

You are correct we'll make arrangements to have the announcement changed


Question number 28

From C Johnson

Q

Hi,
Southern often inform customers via the CIS displays that "First class accommodation can be used by any passenger on this train" when a service without advertised first class seating is operated by unit with first class accommodation.
Can FCC introduce a similar procedure, as there are many times when a 319 with 1st class sections operate services on the (almost all) standard only Sutton loop services, as it would help cut down on confusion and potentially overcrowding on some services.
Thanks.


A

Hi,

All first class sections are declassified on the Wimbledon Loop so any passenger may sit in that section. However your suggestion to use the CIS displays to advise passengers of this rule is a good idea, which we follow up on.

Thanks for getting in touch.  


Question number 27

From J Evans

Q

I noticed at Kings Cross the other day that the announcement system is now announcing GN trains that divide en-route - telling passengers which portion of the train to be in etc.
Will this be introduced at other stations?


Another issue - the 07:09 from Letchworth to Kings Cross is nearly always announced as being 4 coaches when it is actually formed of 8 (the units couple at Cambridge). The screens say it is 8 coaches.

The 17:46 WGC to Kings Cross service most days is shown as leaving from platform 2 then has a "platform alteration" announcement saying it will now leave from Platform 4 so everyone waiting on platform 2 crosses over to platform 4 - in some cases missing the train as the announceemnt is made very close to departure. This service is formed of stock that always terminates in platform 4 so why does the system have a default of saying it will leave from platform 2 until about 3 minutes before departure?


A

Thank you for your feedback - we really appreciate it.

We will feed back your comments to our customer information manager who will be in touch with you soon.

UPDATE: We are aware of the issue at Welwyn and are looking at resolving this. Your experience will help us narrow down what is going wrong so thank you very much for your help.

With regards the Letchworth issue, we were not aware of this. We will pass all of this on to our customer information manager.


Question number 25

From Elliot Hayes

Q

Hey - quite fancy a trip to Cambridge on Sunday but would like some company? Anybody wish to join me for a chat over a Bovril? x


A

Thanks for the invitation. Our twitter team are always available for a chat so please feel free to enjoy their company on your trip to Cambridge this Sunday. Enjoy the sunshine!


Question number 24

From Jonathan Morris

Q

Can I congratulate you on the introduction of your Twitter service earlier this year, and the dedication of Ally in dealing with some rather rude people. There's no harm in having a moan, but being offensive is another matter. Ally does a great job considering the abuse.

What a transformation from when I was commenting on here about how bad your Twitter service was, having not been updated for months - even during times of extreme disruption. Well done again.

I hope that it has made a big difference, and I can't see how it can't - as unhappy customers are usually very happy to get an explanation, even if it isn't always good news.

Given how bad the new customer information system is, over one year on from introduction, I honestly have to say that Ally is perhaps the only person within the whole company where you can go for accurate information.

That says a lot for the Atos Origin system that must have cost a bit to bring in, but still can't even cope with relatively minor delays. Still failing to show when services are delayed or cancelled (even when it's known that the train that shows as 'on time' isn't even there) and operators that still like to say things like 'Engineering work is taking place - check website' when the whole point of the system is to convey information. If everyone is to be pointed to the web, just put up metal signs with your URL!!!

(BTW, I think someone might have having a bit of fun with you guys looking at some of the questions submitted today!)


A

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for the feedback - I will certainly pass on your comments to Ally who I know will be chuffed.

We are constantly looking at new ways to communicate with our passengers, particularly during times of disruption and we are pleased with the feedback we have been getting regarding Twitter.


Question number 23

From Lance Hardy

Q

Why do the automated announcements say how they're so sincerely sorry when really they're just probably asleep hammered in a bush somewhere?


A

We are sincerely sorry for any delays caused. The system we use is, of course, automated but the sentiment remains real.


Question number 22

From Paul Jones

Q

FCC likes to publicise the improvements it has maked on services between Cambridge and London. Is it not about time that improvements are made for passengers between Kings Lynn/Ely and London where there are frequently 40 - 50 people standing in every carriage?


A

We constantly monitor the loading of our services and are aware of the high passenger volumes in and out of Cambridge. Power restrictions and the short platforms limit what improvements we can make however.

From the December timetable change we are planning an extra service from Ely to Cambridge in the morning peak providing an extra 250 seats, this service will arrive into Cambridge at approx 08.05. This will alleviate over crowding on the current 07.18 departure from King's Lynn which itself will be re-timed 7 minutes later providing a better spread of services.

In the afternoon the current 16.15 Cambridge to Downham Market service will be re-timed later to 16.21 to make this service accessible to more passengers.


Question number 21

From J Evans

Q

When services are being announced, the details of that service disappears from the departure summary screen in the booking hall at stations such as Potters Bar shortly before the announcement starts.
The train hasn't yet arrived so surely they could stay on the board for a bit longer. There have been several occasions when I have arrived at the platfrom to find a train pulling in that had already been taken off the departure boards when I had walked through the booking hall.


A

Hi,

We remove the train details from the departure boards prior to the trains booked departure, taking into account the time it is likely to take for a customer to reach the train with a view to avoid possible customer injuries from rushing/running to trains, and the potential for train delays. As the systems we have, use timings in minutes it is currently practice to remove the train details 1 minute prior to departure


Question number 20

From John Crossley

Q

Why can't I get a Super Off Peak FCC Only Travelcard ticket from the ticket machine at Three Bridges?


A

Three Bridges ticket machines are operated by Southern Trains. To find this ticket use the A-Z menu select London > London Travelcard Zones 1-6 should give you the option to purchase the FCC Super Off-Peak Travelcard. We will discuss with Southern about moving this option to become a part of the quick issue screens.


Question number 19

From C Johnson

Q

Hi,
Why do Sutton loop services on Sunday not commence until around 10:30? Other FCC services as well as other train company services in the surrounding area start around 7...
Thanks.


A

When the Thameslink weekend engineering blockades finish in May 2012 and through services once again operate across London at weekends, we are looking the Sunday service we offer and what improvements can be made.


Question number 18

From J Evans

Q

Have you got any plans to introduce WiFi on the 365s or at the GN route stations?

You could make it free for annual season ticket holders (to increase the perks for an annual ticket) if it isn't available free for everyone.


A

FCC currently has no plans to introduce WiFi on the 365s or GN route stations.


Question number 17

From Peter Excuse

Q

I notice that the characteristic gearbox noise on your 365s has changed. I would say it's approximately a semitone lower. I will put a comparison on Youtube.

Has there been some engineering change to these units that would result in such a phenomenon? It's now much more pleasing to the ear! Thankyou.


A

Hi Peter,

We've made no changes to the 365 gearboxes - an interesting phenomenon indeed!


Question number 16

From THUPTEN Sonam

Q

hi,
staff's at hatfield station are very friendly and helpful


A

Hi,

Thank you for your kind comment, I will pass that on to the team at Hatfield.


Question number 15

From . G

Q

It seems that the carriage cleaners are not reaching the doors and their windows on the 319 stock. Most trains seem to have caked on dirt on these windows and at this rate come the winter you will not be able to see out of them!


A

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your observation. We will feed this back to our train presentation team for review.


Question number 14

From Val Tarol-User

Q

I had the pleasure of travelling on one of your "new" trains back to Huntingdon the other day - I believe they are referred to as 3-2-1.

Well, like 3-2-1, they seem fit for Dusty Bin. Ted Rogers himself couldn't survive more than 15 minutes in one of those without succumbing to serious lumbago, and that's assuming he could squeeze into the miniature seats in the first place.

The seating in these trains, which appear to have had a very cheap cosmetic improvement that's already peeling off, is shockingly unfit for purpose.

South West Trains, East Midlands Trains, Southern Railway, First Great Western all installed much higher quality seating when they received cascades of older trains. Why haven't you?


A

Dear Val,

Thank you for your comments.

The 321 units were introduced to augment our current operation to increase capacty as part of the HLOS programme. Prior to their introduction they did receive a refresh but unfortunately new seats were not included in the scheme.

We are always looking to make improvements and will certainly take your comments onboard.


Question number 13

From Peter Skuce

Q

I see the moquette fabric on the post-Silverlink units is at least half a millimetre thicker than on the 'standard' units - I specifically look out for these units when going to work now. The only problem is that I have had to wait up to four hours for one of the new units to come along. But it is worth it!


A

Thanks Peter. Glad you appreciate them.


Question number 12

From THUPTEN Sonam

Q

Hi,
I had a very unpleasant, embarrassing, and humiliating encounter with one of your senior member of staff in Finsbury station ticket counter) on 27,28 and 29th of Sep. 2011.
He was very rude, intimidating, unprofessional and arrogant staff one of the worst I have ever come across in my entire life.He at one point became aggressive and came out of his office to physically assault me,one of his colleague came out and stopped him.Ps refer CCTV footage on 27th sept afternoon between 12- 14.00 hours.I have enjoyed travelling by First Capital over the past years, but this incident has left me with great sense of disappointment. Today we are seeking an explanation from the higher management as to why this member of staff has been allowed to continue his unacceptable behavior towards me repeatedly for three days. He clearly enjoys his position as the most senior member on the station, even directing his colleague not to serve me. I wish you to question the other member of the staff who refused to serve me at the counter on his direction.
In brief, I reported this incident on 28th Sep to the customer relations (ref 6210924), I was assured that this will not happen again. Following morning on 29th Sep, He bluntly refused to serve me and told me to go and learn how to speak. When I questioned, on what ground are you refusing to serve me, for which he replied; I DON’T HAVE TO TELL YOU. He called out for the next customer while I was still at the counter. I hope you can imagine the level of humiliation and embarrassment I went through in front of other customers repeatedly for 3 days, not to mention getting late for my lectures and incurring extra cost by having to buy two tickets. My wife then reported this incident ref; 6211720, 6211538 on 29th Sep, so far we found it hard to get in touch with the station supervisor and we only managed to get name of the station manager without any contact details. The customer relation team was reluctant to give any contact detail of the station supervisor. We were assured that this will not happen again but we are not convinced. Therefore, I urged you to kindly intervene in this matter. He clearly needs to update his customer service skills, so that no other customer has to go through what I have been through.
Anticipating an early response and action on this matter.
Many thanks.

Mr and Mrs Sonam


A

Dear Thupten,

Thank you for getting in touch.

This case is currently being investigated by our customer relations team.

They will be in touch with you directly once they have concluded their investigation.

Best wishes,

FCC


Question number 11

From Joe B

Q

Do you believe that you provide a good passenger experience for those who travel north of Cambridge?


A

We always strive to provide a good passenger experience but are also looking to do better. I sense from your question that you don't feel that we do but without the specifics it is difficult to address your concerns. Perhaps you could elaborate your personal experience?


Question number 10

From Tom Jonesfan

Q

That Welsh bloke who works at Biggleswade station. He's lovely, he is. Can you give him a big thumbs up?


A

Hi Tom,

Thank you for getting in touch. It's always great to hear how much our staff are appreciated. I will certainly send your feedback to the individual and his line manager.


Question number 9

From phil gent

Q

Hi
Network rail recently gave details of the £100m station improvment fund, to improve car parks, smart cards etc. Has FCC submitted any projects to take advantage of the availble funding?


A

Hi,

We have provided a number of schemes and supported several schemes from other operators to Network Rail in the hope that we can secure some funding. We are expecting Network Rails decisions in December.

Thank You


Question number 7

From Bedfordshire Access Campaign

Q

It seems ridiculous that, in 2011, stations like Biggleswade, with nearly 750,000 passengers a year, serving an area with a significant elderly population, is still utterly inaccessible.

Are there any plans to let disabled people in Bedfordshire travel without taking up half their day waiting for a grumpy taxi driver to take them to the next station?


A

The scheme to provide step-free access to railway stations across the country is run by the Department for Transport and called Access for All. The DfT prioritises and allocates funding for these projects and we are not aware of any scheme being in the pipeline for Biggleswade. That would not be to deny your point that Biggleswade has many passengers who would benefit from level access at their station; it is simply that there is a limited pool of money the DfT has to invest and there are other stations in even greater need than Biggleswade.


Question number 6

From Jonathan Morris

Q

Can you please let us all know exactly where LTCEADL is, and how much a ticket to LTCEADL would cost? :-)

http://desmond.yfrog.com/Himg640/scaled.php?tn=0&server=640&filename=dh0to.jpg&xsize=640&ysize=640

Failing that, do you think someone could fix the system to show the correct place where some trains divide, as against a siding? There are some things a passenger doesn't need to know!


A

Hi,

Thank you for the feedback, I will look to resolving this erroneous message, can you let me know where this is displayed.


Question number 5

From peter coles

Q

My son started at Cambridge University 2 weeks ago. In pre-planning his attendance we looked at all options – live in, commute by car, commute by public transport.
With a train scheduled to arrive at 08.42 in the morning and the college only a 10 minute walk away from the station we opted for public transport on the basis of it being the most economic, most environmentally friendly and compared to the car the safest.
Two weeks in and we are having to completely review this option due to the inability of First Capital Connect and Network Rail to provide a remotely punctual service.
My questions for you are:
• What steps are taken to ensure that drivers, signalmen, and station staff have personal responsibility and a sense of ownership for ensuring that the 07.54 from Kings Lynn arrives in Cambridge punctually at 08.42 ?
• Can you provide a daily breakdown of the achieved arrival times for this service over the past 3 months ?
• What steps are being taken to ensure that the punctuality of this service is brought back in line with the timetable ?
• What are your expectations for the punctuality of this service between now and the date of your next Directors forum ?

Many Thanks


A

Dear Peter,

Thank you for getting in touch.

We are unable to answer all of your questions over this forum but if you send your contact details we will ask one of our customer relations managers to contact you directly.

Kind regards.


Question number 4

From Jonathan Morris

Q

Some FCC staff members were talking about the possible extension of Oyster card acceptance on FCC lines - to places like St Albans, Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City - and now the media has picked up on this.

Can you say when this is likely to actually happen, as in go live. Not exact dates, but a clue? FCC staff had mentioned it as being as early as the end of 2011, but others are saying it will be 2013 (after the Olympics). A big gap considering the new gates are ready and it's just a case of sorting out the pricing.

Which leads to the second part of my question; how will things be charged if, presumably, these stations become part of the zonal system - up to zone 9?

I for one cannot wait for this to happen and it's the best news I've had over the term of the franchise. I know it's been talked about for years, so well done for (hopefully) making it happen.


A

We are in discussion with Transport for London and the Department for Transport on this issue. We can't say when they may go live at the moment.

End of 2011 is definitely not on. That's because there is a lot more that needs to be sorted out - there are not gates with readers at all the stations, for example, and there needs to be a lot of back-office work carried out - it is not just a question of sorting out the pricing!

We do agree with you, though, that it will be great news for our customers if this is introduced.


Question number 3

From Sketer Puce

Q

I took a trip on 365005 the other day, and had occasion to use the toilet.

Are you using new disinfectant in the toilet areas now. It smells very nice!!!

If you like, I have some photos of the disinfected areas I can share with people here!!!


A

Hi Peter,

I will have to find out if we are using a new disinfectant and let you know.

Thanks.


Question number 2

From G Biggleswade

Q

Yet again I find myself having to write to you about the always late running of the 07.45 Biggleswade to Kings Cross train. If the fast train from Peterborough (07.59 from Stevenage) is running late, it makes this train late. There is also still the problem of waiting outside Hitchin sometimes for nearly 5 minutes. At least 2 journeys in 5 the 07.45 will be late. I realise that the problem is caused by congestion of too many trains. Maybe instead of keep on changing the time of this train (it was originally 07.40) the whole morning peak timetable is radically altered. Apart from making certain trains a few minutes earlier/later the timetable has not changed.

My second point is when are we going to get longer trains? Are the platforms at Arlesey/Biggleswade/Sandy ever going to be made longer to accommodate 12 coach trains.

Thirdly, I note from Qs & As from a previous forum that passengers who travel to Peterborough on off peak tickets are able to board the 16.40 Kings Cross to Peterborough. I travel on this train most days and it has become more crowded over the last couple of months. I did send an email a couple of months ago after I had read the Qs & As from that forum and the reply said that this situation would be monitored. My point is that if FCC are going to have a rule about off peak tickets not being used until after 19.00 then they should stick to it. It is no good making an exception to passengers who live in Peterborough. Why can’t those passengers get the 16.22 Huntingdon train and change at Biggleswade as many people already do? Why should commuters who pay a fortune to travel go without a seat? I would suggest that FCC review the policy for off peak travel on this train.


A

We will look at the performance of the 07.45 service

The platform extensions at Arlesey/Biggleswade and Sandy will be in place for the timetable starting in December next year.

Your comments about the ticket restrictions on the 16.40 are noted, we will continue to monitor these and the train loadings as we do for all services. Our data does not show this service as overcrowded.


Question number 1

From Biggles Wader

Q

I understand Monday evening's meltdown at King's Cross was due to rodent-cause cabling problems.

However, despite the repeatedly-vaunted investment in communications, the information given to customers during this disruption was shockingly bad:

- Incorrect information was fed to live departure feeds, showing cancelled and delayed services as running on time throughout the disruption.

- Vague information was given on your own website, showing almost nothing about contingency arrangements (e.g. where trains were being turned around).

- It took well over an hour before passengers were informed they could use Thameslink route and NXEA services.

- It took well over three hours before there was any assistance back from any Thameslink route stations to GN route stations.

- The information provided at the stations was as bad as online.

Every time serious disruption happens, this happens too, and we are told how the Blackberries are going to solve everything. And every time, there is no change, and little information is distributed.

Is this ever going to change?


A

We are very sorry for the severe disruption to services on the Great Northern route on Monday evening and for the increased journey time and overcrowding.

Because of the complexity of the disruption it was difficult to predict which trains could run. As a result, the information to our customers, and to our teams at stations, was not as clear as it should have been. We apologise for this. Together with Network Rail, we will be looking at how this incident was managed and how we can improve the flow of information to you.

There is inevitably some delay between the incident itself and our information systems putting the correct information out. they way that we manage this is constantly under review and we will be looking to learn from Monday's incident.


Points. Now available with train travel.

Collect 4 points
per £1 spent

Buy now

Travel alerts

Receive alerts on train times, service delays and planned works

Register for alerts