We went to Taunton the other day, to take a couple more locos to Alex at Mikron Models for weathering.
As usual we went by train, catching the 10:17 First Great Western service from Castle Cary, which is the 08:18 from London Paddington to Exeter. However, because of some problems in the Reading area, the train was running some 20 or more minutes late.
FGW is renowned for its poor time-keeping and this is borne out by our own experiences in travelling between Castle Cary and Taunton where the trains are commonly around 5 minutes behind schedule.
They do suffer in comparison to South West Trains who operate the Waterloo to Salisbury and Exeter services and upon which we often travel.
SWT do indeed run a tight service as far as time-keeping is concerned. The problem is that space is also tight on their Class 159s, especially when compared to the much older yet far more spacious (and a lot more comfortable) Class 43 HST sets as used by FGW.
Mind you, not all of the trains operated by FGW are so roomy or so comfy. The Class 153's, as used on their Cheltenham / Gloucester and Bristol to Weymouth services, can become rather cramped, especially at busy times when there is only a two-coach train in operation. The top photo shows the 7:13 from Cheltenham (08:41 off Bristol) to Weymouth arriving at Castle Cary. This is due to arrive here at 09:53 and, amazingly, it was more or less on time too!
Later, whilst at Taunton station waiting for our return train, which again was running a few minutes late, we saw the Cross Country 06:01 service from Glasgow to Plymouth arrive and depart. The train is due to arrive at Taunton at 14:15 and was only a couple of minutes down.
The bottom photo included here shows the Voyager departing westwards to its next stop at Exeter while the centre photo shows our much delayed Paddington to Exeter service crawling shamefully into Castle Cary station.