Thursday, December 20, 2007

Journeys into the West

It is the time of year when I take a journey from Oxfordshire to Devon via First Great Western.

It is always nice to see what has changed for the better or worse since the last time I let the train take the strain.

The Adelantes are still around although apparently not for much longer. They don't appear to be well liked by travellers but I have always found them to be very comfortable.

From Reading to Exeter St Davids was on a refreshed FGW HST. It is not a bad job the new seats are comfy and not too cramped and the d├ęcor has been modernized. The only minor criticism I have is the choice of door colour, it is a bright lurid pink. I personally the old double yellow line colour they used to have. I suspect that the pink doors will date very badly and in a year or so will look very dated.

Exeter St Davids and you would have thought you had stepped back into the 1980's. There were dozens of Class 142 Leyland bus type trains hanging around. These were used after the end of loco hauled services in the 80's but were soon moved out of the region due to excessive wheel wear and track damage.

Having done a bit of research it would appear FGW have bought them back mainly because they are dirt cheap and because they simple don't have anything better. It appears that although Network rail were not impressed with the move they allowed the stock move after certain assurance were put in place by FGW.

Anyway these Class 142 pacers were effectively made from British Leyland bus parts for the cheapest possible costs. To take the suspension as an example they are two large spring on each bogie set. The ride quality is not that great. The interior is also very bus like with large bus seats and bus doors.

All in all a 1980's train which should have been scrapped at the end of the 80's. The ride quality is terrible, there are no interior comforts and by all accounts the reliability is poor as well. Typical first great western go for cheap and ignore the customers. Why the government continues to allow them to treat customers like dirt is unbelievable.

I should also mention that they do not perform well in a crash, imagine crushing a tin can. The report after a crash in 1999 recommended they should be phased out because of this.

Whichever way you look at it these trains should not be running in 2007.

Rumour has it FGW does intend to refurbish the units but other than recover the seats and fill the worst of the holes there is probably not a lot they can do.

1 comment:

Will said...

"fill the worst of the holes" - I like that! I hate Pacers. The government/ Department for Tarmac would prefer to pretend these trains don't exist!

I always liked the Adelantes, but the door opening and closing always broke (apparently). So they are now using HSTs with manual doors- more delays!

The doors are bright pink so blind/semi blind people can see them. This is nonsense in my opinion. If I were blind/semi blind, I would have an assistant if I travelled by train. Ok, with pink doors a partially sighted (wo)man can see the door. But what about opening it.........? Haven't thought it through, have they!