This is a message from the new Chairman (Richard Povey, email: firstname.lastname@example.org) I shall be assisted by Scot Peterson (who will be doing any actual chairing of meetings), but I will be taking care of the OBRAG website from now on.
Thank you very much to Ian East and Henrietta Leyser, our predecessors, who have been OBRAG stalwarts over many years and pivotal to all of us having a continuing train service in Islip.
For now, I wanted to provide a summary of where we are with the Islip-London train and Islip-Oxford train-bus service. I would welcome comments (either on the blog or by email) if people disagree with my assessment or can think of further problems/information to add.
First, the positives, and many thanks to Hattie Bayly for representing us on the Passenger Board and to Chiltern Railways for sorting/clarifying these issues:
- The opening of the remainder of the line to Oxford is as I understand it promised for the 12th December and there is no reason to expect any further delay.
- All buses from Oxford now stopping outside the Oxford Parkway station is a huge improvement in reducing the amount of walking (and sometimes running – see next point) needed. As a point of information, from approximately 19:30 (and all day on Sundays) the buses pick up and drop off only at the front of the station. Before 19:30 Mondays to Saturdays, passengers should still embark for the bus journey to Oxford at the Park and Ride Terminal. (Being able to embark with return train tickets to Islip from Magdalen Street in Oxford instead of the railway station has also been a welcome improvement.)
- Now that the road works have been completed around the Oxford railway station (and the bus stopping directly outside Oxford Parkway station), the issue of missing trains from Parkway to Islip due to delayed buses from the centre of Oxford has been a lot less of a problem. As a regular user, I do however still occasionally find I miss trains due to delayed departures of buses from Oxford city centre. Chiltern Railways have been quite good about providing replacement taxi services from Parkway to Islip if I miss a service, although it has sometimes seemed as if there is not a clear policy to do this and it is at the whim of whoever is in charge (But they have always provided such a service for me when I have asked.) I would welcome other people’s thoughts and experiences about the taxi replacement policy when the timetable goes wrong.
- The ticket machines at Islip did appear to be a lot more reliable then a few months ago, and to usually dispense tickets correctly – at least until the recent building work at the Islip station put them offline. Hopefully this will be completed on time by 12th June.
- The spacing of services from Islip to Oxford seems currently quite satisfactory. (I would welcome people’s thoughts on this statement, however.)
Now for the remaining negatives that need to be addressed:
- Commuters to London continue to find it highly unsatisfactory that they have been forced to take the 7:14 from Islip to Parkway and then catch the 7:24 in order to get to London by 8:20. This has caused problems with delays causing them to miss the 7:24 connection and is in any case inefficient. It will become more so under the new timetable where they will now be required to catch the 7:03 from Islip, thus essentially extending the journey time to London by 50%. This seems crazy (at least, from an Islip perspective). It would be far preferable to have the 7:24 leave a few minutes earlier from Parkway so as to stop in Islip. Chiltern however say that for commercial reasons they are unable to allow additional stops on the flagship morning service from Parkway to Marylebone. I would be interested to hear feedback about the experiences of Islip-London commuters in particular as regards the reliability of the Parkway connection, how often they have been late for work due to delays and how adequate Chiltern’s compensation policies have been.
- We are aware of issues with the ticket machines at Parkway incorrectly charging users of the off-peak 8:50 service from Parkway to Bicester at peak fares. Not all staff at the station appear to be aware that this is an off-peak service. Chiltern say that this it is difficult to make the ticket machines operate correctly, but in that case maybe some kind of paper notice might be possible explaining how to buy an off-peak ticket so that customers are not over-charged. In any case, please be aware of this.
- Bicester to Oxford commuters are frustrated that there is no bus connection for the new 07:10 arrival at Oxford Parkway until 07:26 which is the same as getting the 07:22 arrival. There is thus no incentive for Bicester commuters to get the new 06:55 departure over the 07:08 departure as they have to wait and use the same bus service to Oxford City.
As I say, comments, additional information and suggestions are most welcome.