Bath time! Digging in investment on the Great Western – how are passengers faring?

27 July 2015

The noise from the announcements about the delays and budgets on the rail investment programme has drowned out the fact there is still a lot of money committed and work going on.

Great Western passengers will only be too aware of this. From 18 to 31 July the railway to the east of Bath will be closed between Chippenham and Bath Spa. High-speed train services to and from London Paddington will be diverted, increasing journey times by up to 30 minutes, while rail replacement bus services will serve local stations.

And then, from 1 to 31 August, in addition to the continuing work between Chippenham and Bath Spa, the line will also be closed between Bath and Trowbridge. Rail replacement bus services will operate where trains are not able to run.

To its credit Network Rail and First Great Western (FGW) have done a pretty good job in the past on previous closures. How do we know? We have asked passengers before, during and after the Reading rebuilds in 2010:

Building on this work we are currently carrying out a piece of research with the FGW team to help them understand passenger awareness levels, information requirements and satisfaction with the information they are seeing in the run up to and during the work around Bath Spa. The findings from this research will be published in the autumn, so the rest of the industry can benefit from FGW’s experience

FGW have already used the research results to finesse communication plans. We have a passenger manager who works solely on FGW issues and travels extensively around the south west. Having this level of constructive engagement is, we think, making a difference for passengers.

We have done similar work around the King’s Cross, Glasgow Queen Street and Notthingham rebuilds. There was little of this engagement on the London Bridge rebuild. Would it have made a difference? We will never know, but it seems like a good insurance policy for future big projects such as upcoming work at Waterloo and Euston.

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