Advance Fare FAQ for Transport Focus

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Starmill

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I currently have a case with Transport Focus where I believe the Advance Fare FAQ may inform their decision. Unfortunately, they haven't considered it - because they can't find it. I have suggested that they consider it and they have asked me for a copy of it so it appears they are willing to consider it as part of the evidence for their investigation. I emailed them attaching the copy of the document from the forum's Fares & Ticketing Guide but have replied as follows:

Dear Starmilll,

Please can you send me the full publication. You have mentioned that this is a staff-facing document - please can you confirm it's origin? The staff-facing document is the National Fares Manual, however I am unaware of this extract being part of this document. To consider any appeal further, we would require the full publication.

Kind regards


Senior Passenger Team Advisor


Does anyone have any suggestions please. Thanks.
 
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ainsworth74

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It's in iKB isn't it? Though having never used iKB I couldn't advise where it is within there!
 

Starmill

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Pretty sure it is.

Could this be what they are calling the "National Fares Manual"? I thought the NFM was just a database rather than anything that contained any retail instructions.
 

hairyhandedfool

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The National Fare Manual (NFM) is part of National Rail Enquiries (internal) Knowledgebase (iKB), but iKB is much more than just the NFM, it also covers the old Guards Handbook and Retail Manual 1 and 2. I don't know if Transport Focus actually have access to iKB as access is limited to certain IP addresses as I understand it.

The FAQs are in iKB, but not in the NFM.
 
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Haywain

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It's difficult to know what base of knowledge Transport Focus are working from, but hairyhandedfool is correct about the location of the FAQs. My concern would not be whether TF have access to iKB, but whether they know it exists!
 

ainsworth74

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My concern would not be whether TF have access to iKB, but whether they know it exists!

This would also be my concern!

However if pointed in the right direction, even if they don't have access, I would imagine that they could get someone within ATOC to get them the right information.
 

bb21

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I wouldn't hold high hopes if I were you. They couldn't even read the bloody document when it was supplied to them in black and white last time I had to get in touch.
 

ainsworth74

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I must admit they do appear to be utterly incompetent. I've read an email exchange posted somewhere on the forum and it sounds like they have one person who knows there stuff but all the frontline 'caseworkers' (I use the term loosely as if in my work we had caseworkers that unknowledgeable we'd be closed down) don't appear to have any real understanding.
 

yorkie

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Transport Focus do lack competent people.

If a manager is reading this, how about you arrange for some of your staff to attend our Fares Workshops? We'd not charge a penny for this! Please do contact us!

Perhaps we could also have a system whereby people with legitimate problems on this forum can be 'fast tracked' to a knowledgeable person within Transport Focus?

At present, Transport Focus is unable to do much for passengers with complex issues, because no-one (apart from Mr Sidebottom...if he's still there?) seems to have the required level of knowledge. That cannot be allowed to continue, surely?
 

Mojo

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Ask if you can get in touch with Phil Wilks. He was the one that helped with my case back in 2013.
 

maniacmartin

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At present, Transport Focus is unable to do much for passengers with complex issues, because no-one (apart from Mr Sidebottom...if he's still there?) seems to have the required level of knowledge. That cannot be allowed to continue, surely?

He's been promoted. He's now 'Passenger Director, so its likely he isn't usually involved with individual cases any more
 

Mojo

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He's been promoted. He's now 'Passenger Director, so its likely he isn't usually involved with individual cases any more
David has held the Passenger director/Passenger team director role for nearly 5 years now. He does get involved with individual cases; in their Customer complaint handling procedure if you wish to make a complaint about Transport Focus, in the first instance the complaint will be reviewed by him. It is him who dealt with my complaint about Passenger Focus in 2013.
 

yorkie

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David has held the Passenger director/Passenger team director role for nearly 5 years now. He does get involved with individual cases; in their Customer complaint handling procedure if you wish to make a complaint about Transport Focus, in the first instance the complaint will be reviewed by him. It is him who dealt with my complaint about Passenger Focus in 2013.
I think more of us need to do that. However my understanding is most people give up before this stage. Perhaps if we all did that, something would change.
 

bb21

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The FAQs reproduced from iKB.

Note that for Q4, amendment of any booking via Trainsplit will only attract one admin fee.

Frequently Asked Questions about Advance fares

Advance fares

Introduction

Most passengers accept that cheaper tickets such as ‘Advance’ come with tight conditions. However, there are numerous questions that will arise from these conditions.

These FAQs assume that passengers are travelling on “TOC X and Connections” or “TOC X only” routed tickets, and are in addition to what is shown on the main Advance ticket conditions page.

Frequently Asked Questions about retailing Advance fares

Q01 - Can a passenger travel on First Advance One-Way and Standard in the other?

A: Yes, they can ‘mix and match’ as available.

Q02 - Can I sell Advance tickets through to Wisbech, Wantage, Isle of Wight or other bus/ferry links?

A: Usually yes but check in retail systems. Not ‘PlusBus’, as this is not compatible with singles but should be sold as a separate ticket if the customer requires a bus day-rover.

Q03 - Are these tickets available from Self Service ticket vending machines?

A: Yes, for collection only, when they are pre-booked via either Telesales or the internet.

Q04 - Can a customer buy two Advance tickets which join together to make one journey, e.g. ticket for A-B plus ticket for B-C, to travel the throughout journey A-C?

A: Yes, provided the train calls at B. See travel with a combination of tickets.

Note 1: Where a passenger buys multiple Advance tickets in this way, if they then have to change their booking, it will also cost them multiple amounts of £10 fee.

Note 2: Where separate train companies are used for A-B and B-C with a change of train and ticket at B, it is still classed as a through rail journey in the event of delays (see also Q21 below) provided connections were booked in accordance with the advertised minimum times for stations. For example, a passenger travelling Cambridge to Leeds holding a combination of Cambridge – Peterborough ‘XC only’ and Peterborough – Leeds ‘EC only’ is allowed to take the next Virgin Trains East Coast service in the event of a delay on the CrossCountry journey causing the connection to be missed.

Q05 - What Terms and Conditions do the customers have to sign up to/be advised of?

A. They are as follows:

Key T&Cs said:
Your Advance Single Ticket(s), key terms and conditions

It is essential that you read these terms and conditions carefully, as you may be charged the full open fare if you haven’t purchased the correct ticket for your journey.

When and where the ticket can be used

Tickets are valid only on the date and train service(s) shown on the ticket(s),
Where applicable, you must travel in the Class and reserved seat(s) shown on the ticket(s).

Tickets may only be used on the services of the Train Company (or geographic route where applicable) shown next to ‘Route’ on the ticket.

If the ‘Route’ also states ‘and Connections’, travel is allowed on appropriate connecting trains where shown on the ticket(s) or other valid travel itinerary.

If the route is prefixed with a ‘+’, the ticket includes the cost of travelling across London on London Underground, Docklands Light Railway or Thameslink services as appropriate to the journey.

Conditions of use

You must be at the departure station shown on your ticket in good time to catch the train. If you miss the first train on which you are booked for any reason, a new ticket must be purchased.

If delays occur while travelling, you will be allowed to take the next available train(s) to complete your journey.

Railcard holders must hold a valid Railcard at the time of booking, at the time of making any changes to the ticket before travel and when using a discounted ticket they must carry their Railcard with them travel when they travel.

If a Railcard holder fails to produce a valid Railcard with their ticket when travelling, a new ticket must be purchased as if no Railcard and/or no ticket were held.

If a Railcard holder fails to produce a valid Railcard when making a change to the booking prior to travel the normal change process detailed below should be followed. In addition to the Change Fee the difference between the discounted ticket held and the undiscounted ticket required should be charged.

First Class Advance tickets do not always grant access to First Class Lounges at stations. Please check with the train company you are travelling with to confirm policy at specific stations.

Break of journey

You may not start, break and resume, or end your journey at any intermediate station except to change to/from connecting trains as shown on the ticket(s) or other valid travel itinerary.

Changing the time or date of travel

Changes to time or date of travel must be arranged before departure of the first reserved train printed on the ticket, after which the ticket has no value and a new one must be purchased. You will need to present the ticket(s) and reservation(s) when you request a change.

If you have chosen “Self Print”, “e-ticket” etc as your delivery method, tickets cannot be changed after the advertised time on the day before travel, or as shown on your ticket(s).

Changes to tickets cannot be made on-board the train. If you board a train without a ticket and reservation for that service, a new ticket must be purchased.

Changes to tickets can be made by logging in to "Your Account", or at most staffed stations. Changes can be brought forward by any number of weeks, or put back as far ahead as the reservation system is open (normally around 12 weeks).

The origin, destination and Train Company or route shown on the ticket(s) must remain the same.

The difference between the price paid and cost of the next suitable fare for your journey is payable, plus a £10 administration fee per person, per single ticket for each change to a journey. If you change to a train on which a cheaper fare is available, the difference will not be refunded.

Please remember that you will need to present your original ticket(s) and reservation(s) as well as the new ones when you travel.

Refunds

Your ticket is non-refundable.

If the train you purchased a ticket for is cancelled or delayed by more than 60 minutes, special arrangements will be made to accommodate you on another train (although a seat cannot be guaranteed)..If the train you purchased a ticket for is cancelled or delayed and if, as a result you decide not to travel, a refund will be offered on completely unused tickets and you will not be charged an administration fee

Q06 - Are refunds or changes allowed with these tickets?

A: Once booked, the ticket is not refundable. Customers will still be entitled to a refund in the event of a delay or cancellation as per conditions 26(a), 41 and 42 of the National Rail Conditions of Carriage.

Up to the departure of the first reserved train (not “suggested” connecting services), the ticket may be changed onto any available service. The excess is up to the next cheapest available ticket, walk-up or advance purchase, plus a change fee of £10 per single ticket. If a change is required after departure of the first reserved train, the ticket has no further value and a new ticket must be purchased.

Q07 - If customers are found to be travelling not on their booked train (but on the correct date and correct Train Company), what fare will they be required to buy on board the train?

A: The fare that would have applied had they purchased it at the station for travel on that train immediately before the start of the journey. If required a return fare can be sold.

Railcard discounts are allowed if the original Advance fare was Railcard discounted and the Railcard is held at the time of travel.

Q08 - A passenger wishes to change their booking. Are there any boundaries by how much they can bring forward or put back an Advance ticket booking?

A: Changes can be brought forward or set back only for as far ahead as train reservations are open – normally around 12 weeks. The original ticket must be presented at the time the change request is made. Some station scenarios:
e.g.1: Same ticket type/fare level is available. A Standard Advance changed one month ahead of time may be able to transfer to another Standard Advance of the same price level if such quotas are available on the new train. Only the £10 fee would be payable. Remember to cancel the old reservations.
e.g.2: No ticket type is available. A First Advance changed the day before to travel on a different train for which no Advance Ticket type is available must pay up to the cheapest appropriate walk up single e.g. FOS, GFS, plus the £10 fee. First advance may also be changed to a Standard Class walk up ticket. Remember to cancel the old reservations.
e.g.3: A cheaper ticket type is available. A Standard Advance changed a week before to a quieter train on which (the cheaper) Standard Advance is available. Passenger should be issued with a nil-value excess and pay the £10 charge.

Note: As all trains that have Standard Advance available should also have the more expensive Standard Advance, it is recommended to keep the same ticket type/price level rather than issue a cheaper one as:
§The price is the same (£nil)
§If they wish to make a further change later, back to a train on which there is only the higher level Standard Advance available, they would then have to pay extra money to get back to the relevant level. This would lead to complaints.
§Remember to cancel the old reservations.

e.g.4: Change of class. A Standard Advance holder wishes to upgrade to First Class for the following day. First Advance is available. Charge the difference plus £10 fee. Remember to cancel the old reservations.
e.g.5: Changing both legs where a walk-up return becomes cheaper. A passenger with Standard Advance for outward and Standard Advance for their return journey wants to change one booking and the Off-Peak becomes the cheapest fare for the overall journey.

Can they upgrade two singles to one return? Answer –yes, but charge £20 fees.

Q09 - Can someone buy an Advance ticket, then excess it to an “Any Permitted” ticket and use it on another operator’s train service?

A: No, they must stick with the operator shown on their original advance ticket (Condition 2c above).

Q10 - Can someone buy an Advance ticket, then excess it to an Off-Peak ticket plus £10 fee, then ask for a refund on the whole bundle in order to get around the refund rules?

A: No, for refund purposes the parts are always treated separately. So the Advance ticket and the £10 Change of journey fee remains non refundable and refunding the excess is subject to the normal Off-Peak refund rules and refund fee.

Q11 - Can customers upgrade to First Class?

A: In most cases, yes.
1) Remember that changes to travel plans can only be done at a station before departure of the first booked train, so once on board, either the ticket is valid on that train, or it is not.
2) Where the customer joins the correct train and wishes to upgrade to First Class on board, or wishes to upgrade at a station beforehand between Standard and First Class on the correct train on which their Advance ticket has been reserved, this is not classed as a change of travel plans.

Weekdays: All TOCs allow upgrade to First Class in the above circumstances. As with other ticket types, charge the difference between the fare already paid and the appropriate First Single (dedicated or inter-available) fare for the journey. No £10 fee should be charged for doing this (except on XC trains)

Note: Partial upgrades are not allowed with Advance tickets due to the difficulty of calculating the correct level of Advance fare pro rata for part of the journey.

Weekend First: On days when Weekend First (or equivalent) are offered, Advance ticket holders who are on the correct Abellio Greater Anglia, East Midlands Trains, First Great Western, First Transpennine Express, South West Trains, Virgin Trains or Virgin Trains East Coast train may sit in designated First Class accommodation on payment of the appropriate supplement. This is not permitted on CrossCountry or ScotRail trains.

Note that if the ticket holder is not on the correct train, the Advance ticket has no value at all.

Q12 - A passenger has an Advance ticket but would like to change their seat allocation. Are they able to do this at the station in advance?

A: Yes, but this counts as a change as it takes retail time and therefore incurs a £10 fee per single ticket (some TOCs e.g. Virgin Trains may choose to waive this and will inform you). Seat preferences should be detailed when making the booking, not later. The ‘Conditions’ above shows that the ticket is only valid in the seat shown and this is the strict message to get across. However, tell the passenger that on-train staff may allow them to move if space allows.

Q13 - Why is there a £10 fee per ticket to make changes?

A: This is a long-standing arrangement to dissuade passengers who really want flexible tickets from buying advance-purchase tickets, thereby potentially depriving other passengers from buying tickets (as they are limited) at that price.

Q14 - A customer has Advance ticket costing £9 and wants to change it? Do we still charge the £10 fee?

A: In this instance, it is cheaper to throw away the original altogether and book a completely new ticket. Please try to cancel the original reservation wherever possible.

Q15 - A customer holds a Standard Advance Single from station A to station B, but no return ticket. Can they upgrade it to a Super Off-Peak Return by paying the difference plus £10.00 fee?

A: Yes - maximum flexibility for the ticket holder before the booked train departs.

Q16 - A customer holds a Standard Advance Single from station A to station B and one for the return from B to A. They missed the outward train from station A, so their outward portion is now invalid. As these tickets can be upgraded to any other walk-up ticket, can we upgrade the (still valid) B to A Advance Single ticket to a Super Off-Peak return from A to B?

A: Yes - maximum flexibility before the booked train departs.

In this case, it is permissible to upgrade the return journey to become the return leg of an Off-Peak ticket. That way the customer at least gets some credit for the return journey. Only one lot of £10 fee needs to be paid. If it was done in advance of the outward journey, the passenger would have to pay two lots of £10 fees but would also be getting credit for both legs of the journey.

Q17 - Can you downgrade from First Class to Standard Class?

A: For example, if the customer holds a First Advance and wants to change it as cheaply as possible, could they just change it to a cheaper Standard Advance, and pay the £10.00 charge? Yes, again maximum flexibility before the booked train departs, no flexibility afterwards. There is no refund or credit of the difference between the First Class and Standard Class fare (See Conditions in Q05 above).

Q18 - Can you change a booking from travel today, to travel tomorrow if today’s booked train hasn’t yet gone but it is too late to cancel reservations?

A: Yes. Again maximum flexibility as the customer is making the change prior to the reserved journey commencing. Inability to cancel the reservations is not the customer’s fault.

Q19 - Can you change a booking from travel tomorrow, to travel today?

A: Yes. Again, maximum flexibility. Just charge the difference up to the cheapest fare they need to pay to make their journey, plus a £10 fee.

Q20 - Changes & Refunds - If we are changing an Advance ticket purchased with a Family Railcard, do we charge £10 for changing each child ticket?

A: Yes, each ticket changed whether for an adult or child requires a £10 fee to be charged.

Q21 - Changes & Refunds - Can I upgrade a child Advance to an adult Advance ticket?

A: Unless this was accidentally bought for a child who it is later realised will be 16 on the date they are travelling and therefore needs changing, then no, this would be a transfer of ticket which is not allowed by the NRCoC.

Q22 - Can a passenger travel on any trains other than the one on which they are reserved, without changing the booking?

A: The following principles apply.
1). Start of the Journey. It is the passenger’s responsibility to turn up at the start of the journey in time for the first train. If they miss it due to problems parking, taxi not turning up etc, they must buy a new ticket;
2). Once the journey has begun. If the passenger is delayed and the rail industry or its partners (as shown below) is at fault, which should be checked with your Control Office, change to another train of the same company is allowed to get them to their destination with the least delay. This is irrespective of combinations of rail tickets held. Examples are:

Included: are passengers travelling on valid:
Through domestic or international tickets; e.g. Brighton - Scarborough route “+TOC X & Connections”;
Through rail & partner tickets for which there is a through bus, tube, ferry or metro fare, e.g. Zone U12 - Leeds, Wisbech Coach - York; Ryde Pier - Hull, etc;
Combination of domestic rail-only tickets
e.g. rail season ticket Skipton-Leeds plus Advance ticket Leeds-Peterborough; or adjoining Advance tickets;
Combination of domestic rail & partner tickets
e.g. Brighton - Zone U12 plus Advance ticket London-Manchester, or
e.g. Advance ticket Bristol-Paddington plus tube single ticket plus Advance ticket Kings Cross to Hull.
All-Zones Travelcard, PTE-products etc (where rail is included) plus Advance ticket;
Combination of Eurostar tickets into the UK and then either advance purchase tickets from London Terminals or “London Intnl CIV” or “Lndon Eurostar CIV”.

Not included: for the avoidance of doubt, are:
Non train-company travel on separate tickets e.g. journeys that commence on bus-only, tube-only, ferry-only or metro-only tickets. (This includes “PlusBus” which is a local day- Rover bus ticket, not compatible with a medium/ long distance ‘Advance’ single journey, so are kept as separate tickets); or
Tickets that cannot be read on-train e.g. smartcards (but allowable where electronically checked, delay verified and Advance ticket endorsed in Travel Centres).

In all cases, as a missed connection could be quite distant from your part of the country, where verified, please clearly endorse the ticket for colleagues ‘down the line’. Eurostar have also agreed to do this.

Q23 - Can a passenger travel on a TOC X train if they are reserved on another TOC’s Advance dedicated ticket?

A: No. Dedicated tickets (=“TOC X only”) do exactly what they say on the ticket. However, during times of disruption, retail and on-train staff should use their discretion, as advised by their Control office.

Q24 - Can a passenger travel on a TOC X train if they are booked on another TOC’s Advance ticket e.g. “TOC Y & Connections”?

A: As a connecting TOC into the main TOC shown in the routeing on the ticket – yes.
As a replacement for the main TOC shown on the ticket - no. (However, during times of disruption, retail and on-train staff should use their discretion, as advised by their Control office).

Please note that “TOC & Connections” tickets are not the same as ‘dedicated’ tickets and should be treated differently. “TOC & Connections” simply means the majority of the journey should take place on the TOC shown plus any other local connections.

Unfortunately not all Journey Planners understand the meaning of “the majority of”, and sometimes the ‘majority’ might be a relatively small portion. But it works both ways round as all TOCs are affected, and it all balances out. Do not penalise the passenger if the ticket issuing system gives them a journey where the “main” TOC has a relatively small portion, and please report any extreme examples found.

Q25 - Can a passenger with an Advance ticket travel on an earlier connecting train?

A: Yes if it is non-reservable, no if it is reservable.

An exception that benefits passengers: Where Virgin Trains East Coast is a connecting TOC from Stevenage via London and vice versa, e.g. “AP London-Reading”, or “VWC & Connections”, Virgin Trains East Coast waives the need to travel on the exact Virgin Trains East Coast train booked on this relatively short journey Stevenage ↔ Kings Cross, even though retail systems will force a reservation to be made.

Q26 - Can a passenger alight short of the destination on their Advance ticket, or board after the origin shown on their Advance ticket but on the same booked train?

A: Although Advance tickets are intended to be used only between the origin and destination stations shown on the ticket, there may be occasions where a passenger joins the correct train but at a later station, or alights earlier than the indicated destination. Although this is not strictly in accordance with the rules for Advance tickets, the Rail industry has agreed that in such cases, no additional fare should be charged unless there is clear evidence of intent to try and avoid a higher fare.

Q27 - Travelling - Can customers on any level of 'First Advance' tickets use First Class Lounges?

A: It depends on the Train Company. For example:
Abellio Greater Anglia – Yes, without further charge.
East Midlands Trains – Yes, without further charge except at London St Pancras between 16:00 and 20:00 Mon-Fri when a £5 lounge supplement must be purchased.
Great Western – Yes, without further charge.
ScotRail – No, full First Class fares only.
Virgin Trains – Yes, without further charge.
Virgin Trains East Coast - Yes, but only provided they purchase the £5 Lounge Supplement per person (no discount for Railcard Holders or children, but children under 5 who do not need a train ticket are not charged for entry). The supplement is not available to any Standard Class customers.

In all cases, the ticket routeing must be appropriate to the lounge being used. Note that First Transpennine Express, South West Trains and CrossCountry do not have First Class lounges.

Q28 - What happens if a customer travelling with a bicycle has purchased an Advance ticket for a train on which cycles are permitted but cycle reservations are not possible and there is no room for the cycle on the booked train for the Advance ticket?

A: The customer is allowed to travel with the Advance ticket on the next train on which there is cycle space available. Or, if they choose to abandon their journey, the ticket is endorsed and they are exceptionally allowed a refund.
 
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