Advice on NRE is definitive - but some staff disagree!

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by yorkie, 14 Jan 2020.

  1. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    It was brought to my attention today that at least one forum member was asked for payment by an Avanti Train Manager for following advice given on NRE.

    The advice was for "London Northwestern Railway" (West Midlands Trains) passengers and stated that they "may use their ticket on Avanti West Coast services".

    During the journey, the passenger was told that National Rail Enquiries was nothing to do with Avanti and that it is irrelevant what it says because Avanti are not bound by what NRE says.

    The customer disagreed and, after a lengthy conversation, the Guard gave up attempting to charge the passenger for a new ticket.

    Avanti stated, via Twitter, that:
    The NRE statement was removed shortly after the above statement via Twitter, which was hours after the passenger had completed their journey.

    I would like to see all train companies issue absolute clear instructions to all staff with responsibility for checking tickets that passengers who follow NRE advice are not to be charged under such circumstances.

    NRE states:
    This is the position; the minority of staff who refuse to accept this position need to be dealt with appropriately by train companies, who have a responsibility to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent staff incorrectly charging passengers.

    Any disagreement over the legitimacy of content on NRE is an internal rail industry matter and the passenger cannot be penalised for this!
     

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  3. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    I would put the fault with management not with the guys in the front line, as it was their responsibility to ensure that the staff were trained to know that NRE was definitive.

    Anybody who has worked with the public for any length of time will have had cases of people insisting that incorrect information from and unofficial source should be taken as definitive.
     
  4. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    There seem to be so many places where information needs to be inputted and the more there is, the more risk of mistakes.

    That doesn't excuse the staff for saying National Rail Enquiries doesn't count of course.

    Take the weather disruption on South Western Railway this evening. The disruption notice on their Web Site did not match that on their Journey Check Web Site and I could imagine it was slightly different again on National Rail Enquiries.

    Now whilst that didn't involve agreements to travel on other people's services, it highlights that if something needs to be separately updated with mutiple places, there is more chance that errors might creep in.

    Back in 2000 there was engineering works at Brixton and travel was agreed with London Underground. I'x been to an all night concert and when I tried to get the first tube, I was told my ticket was not valid as no acceptance.

    The person didn't go I'll check this to make sure. So I went to the other station to check and sure enough ticket acceptance as it was closed. So back I went and they agreed to check and I was allowed on.

    They weren't aware of the acceptance for some reason but initially just assumed they were right.
     
  5. CyrusWuff

    CyrusWuff Established Member

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    Every TOC SHOULD have an agreement in place for ticket acceptance during disruption.

    Declaring CSL2 (i.e. major disruption) triggers that automatically in most cases (general exceptions being CrossCountry and if the receiving TOC also has disruption) with no need to contact anyone.

    Having said that, most TOCs will contact each other anyway as a matter of courtesy.
     
  6. Harpers Tate

    Harpers Tate Established Member

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    It should be automatic that any disruption (add the word "significant" here, and define it with a specified number of minutes delay or somesuch) means ANY other operator will accept passengers and tickets, with no penalty on the passenger - and the TOCs can sort it out between themselves afterwards.
     
  7. Merle Haggard

    Merle Haggard Member

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    It's other sources of information and pre-dates Avanti.
    A couple of years ago I was travelling home from Birmingham New St. and there was a problem to the South that restricted the service. There were no up London Midland services and a very clear and repeated announcement was made about the disruption and that London Midland only tickets were valid on Virgin.
    Having a pass myself I could travel by Virgin anyway so I retreated to coach K on the next up service; it was pretty overcrowded. As we left, the TM made an announcement to the effect that anyone with an LM only ticket would be charged the full fare.
    At a slightly later stage in the journey, having possibly encountered difficulty, the TM passed through 'K' and, using the mike in the kitchen, repeated the announcement. As she walked back, I mentioned to her that the announcement she had made was contrary to that made at New St. and possibly might be a source of discussion but she said very firmly and dismissively that her instruction (i.e. LM not valid) was what Virgin Control said..
    The TM approached a young girl standing in the vestibule behind me; it seems she had an LM-only ticket . The girl did not argue but became very distressed and then, when the fare was pressed, hysterical. Someone nearby diagnosed this as a 'panic attack' and insisted that, when the train reached Coventry (in a couple of minutes) that an ambulance should be there, and this did indeed happen.
    It's perhaps unusual that the situation escalated but being given information by one part of the railway that is then contradicted and over-ruled by another part is sadly not uncommon.
     
  8. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    I hope the member of staff learnt from that situation, as no doubt it further delayed the train and passengers.
     
  9. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    It's not always the best option though. There are many routes served by a mixture of large long-distance trains, and small 1-3 carriage middle or short-distance trains. If the long-distance service is disrupted due to something further along the route, allowing all their TOC-restricted ticket holders onto a small train could overwhelm the other service, potentailly causing overcrowding and further delays. It is probably better to try and maintain the local service - which will likely be busy as unrestricted holders are able to use it anyway - while long-distance travellers wait for the long-distance service to resume.
     
  10. hawk1911

    hawk1911 Member

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    Last year (pre-Avanti) there was severe weather disruption on the west coast and my Virgin train from Lancaster to Crewe was running well over two hours late (I had an advance ticket). NRE stated ticket acceptance was in place with various other operators, so I thought no problem, I can get an alternative late running Virgin train (which was coming in at the time my original train was due). Wrong according to the Virgin staff member I spoke to, who was quick to point out that NRE clearly stated that Virgin's ticket acceptance was with various other operators, but not with Virgin itself, so I would have to wait for my booked very late running service. A case of them taking the NRE far too literally.
     
  11. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    If staff need to be "trained" to understand a clear and unambiguous statement in English, the criteria which need to be met prior to appointment in a customer handling role are obviously woefully inadequate.

    Of course people will insist information from an unofficial source should be taken as definitive (indeed there have been various recommendations that people should quote statements made on this forum as 'proof' when they are no such thing) but NRE is not an unofficial source.
     
  12. TFN

    TFN Member

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    As a railway staff member working on behalf of a specific TOC, I check NRE for ticket acceptance as well as my own TOC. If they differ I'd ask control to see what the stance is and explain that NRE shows otherwise.

    If I explain the ticket acceptance to a passenger, then I open up NRE rather than the TOC website and ask the passenger to take a picture of my phone screen if they're unsure.
     
  13. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    It's a case of them not doing their job properly, as well as talking nonsense.

    The Advance Fare FAQs in the internal KnowledgeBase (iKB) states:
    The job advert for a Virgin Trains TM stated they were looking for:
    In any other industry I would expect sufficient safeguards to be in place to ensure that instances of customers being mistreated to this an extent was kept to an absolute minimum (or even eliminated entirely) and that instances of behaviour this nature would be taken extremely seriously.

    The are several TMs working on the ICWC franchise who behave in a manner that is far removed from the person spec advertised. This would be inconceivable in almost any other industry but it's considered almost normal in the rail industry.

    I am not surprised at all at what you experienced. I should be shocked.
     
  14. trebor79

    trebor79 Established Member

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    Some of the Virgin/Avanti staff seem to make it up as they go along. Like the guard who checked my split tickets who cheerfully told me that "technically" I had to vacate the train and get back on again at Preston. "But I won't make you do that". As though he was going me some kind of favour. He was quite jolly so I just smiled and said thanks.
     
  15. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    The Twitterers appear to be making it up as they go along, and mostly doing so incorrectly, too. The funny thing is that they were generally quite decent under Virgin, and they are the same staff.

    I was (un)impressed that Abellio managed to completely wreck the culture of their TOC within a year or so. Have First-TI managed to do it in just a couple of months, I fear? At least they haven't stuffed up the timetable I suppose.
     
  16. Merle Haggard

    Merle Haggard Member

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    To do so would, I suggest, require a mind open to constructive suggestions from a variety of sources.

    I made what I thought was a useful observation in a (I thought) pleasant and conciliatory way. She had checked my ticket immediately before I did so, so she knew I had no personal interest in whether inter-availability applied; the ticket I hold might also suggest that, in the past, I might have had some slight knowledge of such situations. However, the rejection of its validity (and the manner) suggested to me that she really wanted to say 'oh, just shut up'.

    I'll leave it at that, but it did indeed cause further delay. Passengers had already suffered delay and this episode compounded it.

    Fortunately for me, LM were turning back at Cov. and I left the troubled train behind.

    I have encountered many esceptionally friendly, helpful TMs on the West Coast and can recollect only one other instance where one converted a minor misunderstanding into an intemperate argument- but even this was resolved amicably.
     
  17. Hadders

    Hadders Fares Advisor

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    Is it me or is there quite a lot of Avanti issues on here since they took over?

    Yet. The current timetable would've been done by Virgin.
     

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