the two things GWR know they can't control...

Monday was a big day for those in the west country as GWR launched their new all-singing, all-dancing Intercity Express Trains (IET), with a (delayed) 6am departure from Bristol Temple Meads.

The trains are bi-mode, operating on both diesel and electric power, and among many things offer the customer quicker wi-fi and more capacity than their predecessor, the Intercity 125. The seating is apparently more comfortable too. And to be fair, they looked the part decked out in the new livery.

But no matter how much is spent on new trains with all mod cons, there are two things no train operator has complete control over, and they are two things that are very important to the customer - punctuality and seat availability.

And as long as they can't control such fundamentals, they will try to paper over these 'cracks' with other things. Buses are just as guilty of it too. We've banged on for many a year, that what people require from public transport is for it to be clean, safe, reliable and value for money. Yes, leather seats are nice, yes free wi-fi has become a basic human right in the western world (yet is still promoted as something that will tempt you out of your car) and yes, everything should be well designed.

Many transport marketers would have you believe the British public are buying into a brand - how can they when they have no alternative brands to choose from? What they're actually buying is a service that offers them a solution to their transport needs.

And those transport needs have to deliver the basics first, above everything else, and whilst they may be boring to some, to the majority they are what your reputation relies on.

Just ask Graheme what he thinks...