The mysteries of FGW timetabling

FirstGreatWestern have introduced a policy which, shock horror, seems to make sense. Where a prior service is delayed, they late the later train leave early (effectively switching the services at Reading). This is fine when there is a delayed train due to take up their spot. Today, however, I got to the station to find no trace of my train, which means it must have been let go a good 4 minutes before its scheduled departure and I had to wait 12 minutes for the next train (12 minutes may not sound long, but it is half of the journey time). Interestingly the later train I ended up getting arrived early and sat at the platform until its schedule departure.

Getting the later train meant I noticed that they had three fast services going to London within a 6 minute window, so I decided to check the times for fast trains at rush hour:

  • 07:57 (duration 32 minutes)
  • 08:02 (duration 30 minutes)
  • 08:08 (duration 31 minutes)
  • 08:14 (duration 27 minutes)
  • 08:17 (duration 28 minutes) – the train I try and catch
  • 08:19 (duration 40 minutes) – I’ve never seen this train
  • 08:24 (duration 32 minutes) – the train I normally end up on
  • 08:34 (duration 26 minutes) – today’s delayed train
  • 08:36 (duration 30 minutes) – the train I ended up on today
  • 08:38 (duration 31 minutes)
  • 08:45 (duration 30 minutes)
  • 08:48 (duration 40 minutes)
  • 08:52 (duration 30 minutes)
  • 09:02 (duration 27 minutes)

I find it interesting that the journey into Paddington is timetabled to take around 30 minutes, yet the trains travelling the other way are around the 25 minute mark – a nice way to get around being classified as “late”. The journey generally takes 20 minutes to get within 2 miles, then can take anywhere from 2 to 12 minutes to travel the final stretch (assuming you haven’t been sat as West Drayton for 10 minutes).

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