First Capital Connect Facts
First Capital Connect won 'the franchise' and kicked off on, ironically, April 01, 2006. Did First Capital Connect win the franchise because it was providing vital improvements, such as more trains and improved punctuality? Did it sod.
Even in 2010 First Capital Connect is still using the same crap old trains that Thameslink was, with the exception of 12 that were leased to Southern Railways. Awesome. It promised that it would get these trains back before 2009. It hasn't of course. That's why you can still find 4 carriage trains pulling into St Pancras at around 5 o'clock.
First Capital Connect blames the Department for Transport for most things, claiming - for instance - that the franchise forbids it from buying rolling stock.
The DfT confirms it gave the franchise to FCC because it offered good value to taxpayers, not necessarily the best service for customers. It does not know why First Capital Connect now runs shorter trains in the rush hours. Nor does the DfT know why FCC does not offer more peak-hour service
The DfT points any enquiries re: both the above points to The Office of the Rail Regulator
The Office of the Rail Regulator refers any questions to Porterbrook Leasing, which owns the FCC rolling stock.
First Capital Connect is investing money of course, in CCTV cameras and revenue protection at stations.
FirstGroup is a massive company that owns bus companies all over the world. It turned over ?4.7 Billion last year. It is now the only provider of national bus services in the USA. Hoorah.
That made me feel a lot better when I squeezed on to the 20 year old 4 car train at 7:45 on the Tuesday morning this week, only to have to get off it again 5 minutes later before it started moving because it had broken down.
Here's a picture of the MD of First Capital Connect Elaine Holt, belying her 41 years on the cover of Rail Professional magazine (go on, Google it, it's really a magazine!):
'I can be a bit of an old toughie sometimes - evening peak restrictions at the beginning of the franchise made me quite notorious,' laughs Holt
(that's verbatim from the interview in the above Rail Professional comic).
Did you note the 'laughs Holt' part? It would be amusing for the MD of course, what with her adequate salary and free travel on FCC.
Re: Elaine Holt - I was told in March 2009 that: 'Elaine Holt has now been appointed as Chief Executive designate of the proposed nationalised company to run the failed East Coast operation. It just goes to show that nothing succeeds like failure.' Great.
Okay, I don't blame FCC for everything. There's clearly something horribly wrong with the whole rail franchise model and how the DfT has it set up. Who can blame an international oligarchical conglomerate for milking every last drop of cash out of FCC? Talk about low hanging fruit. Thameslink was lying on the floor. No fruit here though, just a semi-smoked Lambert & Butler, begging to be scooped up and smoked into a useless, addict-reclaimed stub, the Government on hand to re-light should Sir require. Just non-optional passively absorbed toxicity for us. Thanks for that.
Any franchise holder is tasked to perform for the Treasury and investors, not the poor bloody traveller, who foots the bills and suffers accordingly on a daily basis.
About an hour of research on the interweb at the end of 2009 indicated quite clearly to me that FirstGroup is big enough not to be that bothered if I get to work on time or not. It doesn't care about this site, the I Hate First Capital Connect Facebook group someone has set up, or the petition to rid FCC of the franchise on number10.gov.uk someone else has thrown into the mix.
FirstGroup - regardless of what your Passenger Satisfaction Score says, your service on the Bedford - London line is crap. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
At least get rid of the rubbish 'Your Journey, Your Choice, Your Railway' stupid slogans on badly designed posters. It IS our journey, but most of us certainly don't have a choice. It's YOUR bloody railway, and it's crap.
But wait, what's this? Wat back when in November 2008, I had several rather bizarre Thameslink Programme-branded bottles of water thrust toward me at Farringdon station, apparently to help ensure I was aware that various bits of track and station were being worked on, that it will take forever and a day and that I should be careful not to fall in any holes.
I felt so guilty!
At last I understood what First Capital Connect has been up to for the past few years. It hasd clearly been planning furiously, while saving up the cash like a bilby for a big railway-fixing push that was obviously starting in Q3 of 2008. Or had it?
First Capital Connect Profits - What FCC does with your money >