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Talks underway to prevent First Great Western strike

The RMT union is protesting about changes to guards' duties Credit: ITV

Talks are underway today to avert a strike at First Great Western. The RMT union is unhappy at plans to change guards' duties on trains and do away with buffet cars.

The row centres on the introduction of the new Hitachi bullet-style trains, with a union ballot starting on Friday.

The company say no jobs will be lost and the changes allow for new technology to be introduced. Any action would cause chaos for hundreds of thousands of passengers on key routes in Hampshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Surrey.

Drivers will close automatic doors in the future rather than guards who currently close and lock slam doors. The union say guards' safety duties are being downgraded and passengers will suffer from worse catering with no buffet cars.

Train reverses back to original destination because muddled driver got on wrong train

First Great Western Train Credit: PA

A rail company is investigating how one of its drivers took the wrong train out of a station in Oxfordshire. The First Great Western driver and his "pilotman" train manager joined a train at Banbury and thought they were heading for London.

But in fact the train was going the other way towards Reading and Didcot and, ultimately, Swansea. It was decided the best course of action was for the train to return to Banbury where the crew boarded the correct train to Paddington station in London.

The "real" Paddington train was delayed for around half an hour at Banbury while other trains were held up as they made way for the return to Banbury of the "wrong" train. The incident happened on Easter Monday evening, prompting Graham Henry to tweet the FGW announcement: "Ladies and gentleman, sorry for this delay ... we've found out we've picked up the wrong driver and have to reverse."

Another tweeter, Master Keys, wrote:

"Stuck on delayed train because a driver ahead has taken the wrong train on the wrong route!"

An FGW spokesman said: "We are looking into what happened. The crew got on the wrong train. We are really sorry about this."

The incident brings back memories of the old music hall song Oh! Mr Porter which was often sung by Marie Lloyd.

The lyrics go:

Oh! Mr Porter, what shall I do, I wanted to go to Birmingham, and they've taken me on to Crewe, Take me back to London, as quickly as you can Oh! Mr Porter what a silly girl I am.


Network Rail apologises as more commuters are stranded

It's been a week of misery and chaos for rail commuters. Passengers were left stranded again, today, because of cancellations and delays.

The disruption was caused by signalling problems at Slough - and between Twyford and Maidenhead. Routes through Reading station to Paddington were badly affected.

Today, Network Rail apologised for the problems. Cary Johnston talked to Dan Panes of First Great Western - which is likely to get an extension to its franchise.

"Standing room only" thing of the past for commuters?

As thousands struggle home tonight on overcrowded trains, many with standing room only, we can reveal a new scheme to improve the lives of commuters. In a major break with the railway class system, work has begun to rip out thousands of first class seats on the busiest trains to ease overcrowding.

The carriages on Great Western are being converted for standard class passengers. Campaigners says it's a major victory for the majority of travellers over the privileged few.

Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse has this exclusive report. He spoke to Managing Director of First Great Western Mark Hopwood and Frazer Langford, also from First Great Western.

Seats ripped out of 1st class to ease overcrowding

ITV News can reveal work has begun to rip out thousands of first class seats on the regions busiest trains in a radical new move to ease overcrowding.

The carriages on Great Western trains will be converted for use by standard class passengers.

ITV Meridian spoke to Frazer Langford from First Great Western about the drastic move.

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