Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stagecoach and Virgin


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10365082

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My experience of journeys with the UK transport company called Stagecoach: passengers having to stand, passengers not being able to get on the coach because of no more space to stand, drivers smoking while driving, vehicles travelling 'too fast'....

Stagecoach has a 49% stake in Virgin Trains.

My experience of Virgin trains: passengers having to stand, trains running late, missed connections, buffet cars not working...

Stagecoach tycoon Ann Gloag, one of the richest women in Scotland, has a fence to protect her castle and her 23 acre estate in Perthshire. Originally the fence 'was erected without planning permission'. (Tycoon's home security 'is vital')

She has launched a legal bid to ban the public from part of her estate. She is seeking an exemption from right-to-roam legislation.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 came into effect in February 2005 and gives a statutory right of access to most land and water, so long as the right is exercised responsibly.

Comment from the public:

"I was on a Stagecoach bus once ... and it was rightly named ... cos it was staffed by a bunch of cowboys who drove the buses like they they were being attacked by a band of marauding Commanche warriors firing arrows at them in a terrifying chase all the way down the M1." By Rubbersnap http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=1762242006

Stagecoach Group plc operates buses, trains, trams, express coaches and ferries.

The group was founded in 1980 by the current chairman, Brian Souter, his sister, Ann Gloag, and her now ex-husband Robin Gloag. The group is based in Perth, Scotland and has operations in the United Kingdom and North America (and formerly in New Zealand).

With 16% of the bus market and 11% of the rail market (plus a further 14% through its share in Virgin Trains), the company is the second biggest transport firm in the UK behind its closest rival First Group.

Stagecoach has often found itself 'on the wrong side of the Competition Commission and faced sharp media criticism over its predatory approach to smaller operators.' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagecoach_Group

'Bitter "bus wars" broke out in towns and cities throughout Britain as Stagecoach took on the local competition, often forcing the competitor to abandon traditional markets and sometimes causing the collapse of smaller operators. This was through aggressive pricing and timing, often running more buses on a route than necessary and just a few minutes ahead of the competition.'

A Stagecoach London vehicle, operating London Buses route 30, was destroyed in the 7 July 2005 London bombings.

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My recent experience of Virgin Trains.

I have traveled on trains in Africa and Asia. No rail journey is as bad as that between Glasgow and Penzance on a Virgin train.

Virgin currently hold the West Coast rail franchise.

A return journey from Glasgow to Penzance:

1. The journey is too expensive. Cost of a standard open return - £251

2. The journey is too slow. In theory the journey time is around 9 hours and 50 minutes. Our journey from Penzance to Glasgow took over ten hours due to delays. We missed our connections.(The cost of a one week holiday in Cyprus can be as low as £250. The flight time to Cyprus is around 4 hours.)

3. The trains are overcrowded. The trains we travelled on had only four carriages.

Many passengers were forced to stand in the aisles because there were too few seats. Only between Plymouth and Penzance were there enough seats.

4. Catering is poor. There was no restaurant car. In the tiny buffet car, the tea and coffee machines were not working.

5. Maintenance is poor. Some of the toilets were out of action.

6. There is not enough space for luggage. There are only two small areas where suitcases can be placed. Much luggage has to be dumped in the aisles. The trains seem to be designed for commuters with little or no luggage.

7. Punctuality is a major problem. Our train was over one hour late and we missed our connection.

Virgin West Coast Scottish route is often at the bottom of the punctuality league.

Virgin Trains tends to receive the most written complaints.

8. Virgin staff are often rude and unhelpful.

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1 comment:

Stephen Morgan said...

Tom Wrigglesworth did an entire Radio 4 comedy show called "A letter to Richard", I think, about Virgin Trains poor customer service.

 
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