First Capital Connect under fire from website

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 06 May 2010

ANGRY and frustrated travellers on the Thameslink line have found a new way to vent their feelings – on a website entitled First Crapital Connect. The brainchild of St Albans commuter Raymond Dunthorne who set it up a year ago, it has well and truly come

ANGRY and frustrated travellers on the Thameslink line have found a new way to vent their feelings - on a website entitled First Crapital Connect.

The brainchild of St Albans commuter Raymond Dunthorne who set it up a year ago, it has well and truly come into its own during the current dispute which has led to a reduced timetable on the line.

Raymond set it up because he could not work out how First Capital Connect (FCC) - which operates trains on the Thameslink line - got away with what it was and wasn't doing.

But in recent weeks it has become a way for passengers to let off steam about the state of the service -and for FCC drivers to put their side of the dispute as well: "Lots of FCC drivers have left messages and corrected misapprehensions about the situation," Raymond said

Father-of-three Raymond set up First Crapital Connect determined to be factual rather than anecdotal.

He discovered in his research that FirstGroup, the owners of FCC, was built on a recession-proof audience which had made it the biggest transport company in the world. He said: "It speaks very frankly about its captive market."

His concern is that its franchise model makes promises - and delivers - for its shareholders at the expense of its customers. "Our main transport infrastructure is a franchise which is great for the likes of Pizza Hut but Thameslink takes in two major airports, London and Brighton," he pointed out.

Raymond, who works in online marketing, is delighted with the number of people who have now discovered the site which has got such a high user-generated content that it has gone above the BBC on Google searches for FCC.

Use of First Crapital Connect has leapt from 30 to 50 users a day to about a thousand since the dispute started which Raymond who, with his partner spends £6,000 a year commuting into and out of London, puts down to so many people looking for the FCC website to see if they are going to get home that day.

But he is honest enough to admit: "I am sure that if someone else took over the line it would potentially be out of the frying pan into the fire.

"What I want to do is not to have a moaning site but to learn from it about why FCC is like it is and why the company can take out free cash machines on the station, put travel restrictions on Travelcards and bring in above inflation increases on non-regulated tickets.


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