Caledonian Sleeper

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Should that door have been open during the coupling procedure?
I suppose the open door is on the train that only moves a small amount following the collision so there isn't much scope for injury. In France I've noticed it's quite common for passengers, often smoking, to stand between an open door and platform during this kind of operation.

A couple of other questions regarding the same scene in the video might be if the lamp should still be flashing while on the platform rather than attached to the train (what is the purpose of these lamps anyway?) and if the unattended luggage should have been reported.
 

marks87

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I suppose the open door is on the train that only moves a small amount following the collision so there isn't much scope for injury. In France I've noticed it's quite common for passengers, often smoking, to stand between an open door and platform during this kind of operation.

A couple of other questions regarding the same scene in the video might be if the lamp should still be flashing while on the platform rather than attached to the train (what is the purpose of these lamps anyway?)
Tail lamps to show the rear of a train. One purpose they serve is to show signallers that the train hasn't divided.

Presumably it's still flashing because the priority was to perform the coupling operation. I'm not really sure why leaving it on while on the platform is an issue, though.

and if the unattended luggage should have been reported.
Joke, yes?
 
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Tail lamps to show the rear of a train. One purpose they serve is to show signallers that the train hasn't divided.

Presumably it's still flashing because the priority was to perform the coupling operation. I'm not really sure why leaving it on while on the platform is an issue, though.



Joke, yes?
Yes just a joke, although I suppose unattended luggage lying on a platform can be more serious than an open door on a stationary train. I tend to agree that strictly speaking the door really ought to be closed but it's hardly a major issue.
I wondered about the flashing tail light in case these were meant to be interpreted as a warning of the presence of a train for anything approaching from behind. If so, it might be rather bad practice just to discard the lamp while it continues to flash as it might be misinterpreted. If it's only used by signallers then not really an issue. Obviously in this case there's no danger of misinterpretation, no hazard from the loose bag and nothing much wrong with having an open door.
 

bobbyrail

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I wondered about the flashing tail light in case these were meant to be interpreted as a warning of the presence of a train for anything approaching from behind. If so, it might be rather bad practice just to discard the lamp while it continues to flash as it might be misinterpreted. If it's only used by signallers then not really an issue. Obviously in this case there's no danger of misinterpretation, no hazard from the loose bag and nothing much wrong with having an open door.
As @marks87 has stated it lets the signaller in the old time box know that the train is complete when it passes their box & track crews will want to see a tail lamp after a train passes, but as you suggest it also provides a visual indicator for following trains. That's why the lamp was placed at 90' to the running lines, a driver on the adjoining line would not see it therefore there would be no miss-interpretation the others that it concerns would also not be affected.
 

GrimShady

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As a fairly regular sleeper user I've been delayed many times, a few times there have been doubts as to whether the sleeper would run / complete its journey, but Wednesday was the first short notice cancellation. It didn't matter too much to me as rather than work this was a trip for walking which I can rearrange.
Regarding alternatives, I would never use a coach (travel sickness) or fly (environmental grounds). I would want the following options.

1. Cancel journey, full refund for both directions - which is offered now. OK if cancelling trip but not if coming home from Scotland.
2. Catch evening (day) train if there's time, with CS to cover cost.
3. Overnight stay in hotel or static sleeper train with option to use day train or sleeper (if capacity) next day. CS cover cost.

I know that in providing a coach they are probably meeting conditions of carriage and this should be offered for those who want it (maybe only option other than refund for those in seats) but for a premium product they should offer more than an overnight coach.
Yip pretty much what I would insist upon too.

Edit: I should add that a coach is probably one of the worst forms of travel available. If I'm booking a premium train journey what on earth makes CS think a coach is a viable alternative?
 
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MrEd

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This thread gives a shocking insight into the what working life must be like for a CS customer service rep - no matter what contingency arrangements they've the time and resources to put in place, it will never be enough for some habitual whiners. And once again, the root cause is wholly outside the train operator's control.
I don’t envy any CS staff (either front line or office based) one bit at this current time. It is very difficult for them as a company, given the frequency with which the train arrives at its destination significantly late and/or contingency plans have to be put in place due to disruption. I have great admiration for all CS staff who are doing their best at a very difficult time for the service. That said, having experienced the service on a difficult night fairly recently (5-6 Nov), I do feel that travellers have *some* legitimate grounds for concern about the way the service is run in its present form, and how management respond to these concerns. I know a number of front-line staff personally and they share a number of the concerns that passengers have. There is a general feeling among some staff and regular travellers that I know that these concerns (about e.g. the reliability of the Mk5s, staff shortages, the reliability of the catering offer etc.) are not always being taken as seriously as they should be by the people at the top. Obviously I cannot speak for every staff member nor for every user of the service, and we must remember that satisfied customers do not tend to fill this thread with observations (however lovely this may be), so it can appear one-sided at times.

What I can say is that I did notice a lot of passengers leaving the train at Inverness that morning (6th Nov) who were *very* irate (including a lady who was going to be late for a funeral- I’m not sure I’d personally rely on the sleeper for this, but as the lady said on the day, not everyone can take additional days off work and the flights the previous evening didn’t work out). This is not ideal, as repeat business is key; it’s also a massive shame given the huge investment that Serco have put into the service and into the new rolling stock- the passengers (however strangely) seemed much happier when they walked off battered old Mk2s/Mk3s in First Group/earlier Serco days. Many of these passengers, who were evidently not regular travellers, seemed infuriated by the fact that they had woken up at around 7.30-7.45 to find that the train was still only at Perth (when they should have been around Kincraig/Aviemore), and that no information about ETA was given by the on-train staff, and that when staff had brought tea/breakfast etc around Pitlochry, no explanation for the delay nor ETA had been given. The train manager did a good job of informing everyone in the seats and lounge, but those who stayed in their berths felt that there was insufficient communication. The familiar complaint about ’no announcements’ resurfaced. I don’t personally get this complaint, as it’s meant to be a sleeper train and I personally don’t want to be disturbed by them, and you have a host call button in the berth if you have any queries, but a lot of occasional travellers seem to get a bee in their bonnet about the lack of announcements when the train is disrupted. I bet in a lot of cases, customers are not told that they should tick the box on the back of their breakfast card if they want to be informed about disruption. Perhaps hosts should go back to asking travellers as they board if they want to be kept informed about delays throughout the journey? There also appeared to be lots of misinformation that morning surrounding what to do about getting a connecting train to Kyle with an advance ticket- I know that there’s nothing complicated about this, as I’ve been in this situation fairly often, but some of the less frequent passengers seemed totally confused about the procedure (and the staff were giving mixed messages- in one case absurdly suggesting that ’written authorisation from the service delivery manager’ was needed to travel on the next available service).

I was very saddened to hear passengers that morning taking out their frustration on the frontline staff (who were themselves tired and frustrated), as the disruption was clearly not their personal fault, and they were themselves as annoyed as their passengers. That said, the way in which the disruption was managed could hardly have been called a polished performance, given the extent to which staff seemed utterly confused/at times uncommunicative, and I for one do worry about how well some staff (new ones in particular) have been trained to deal with extreme disruption (such as arrival in excess of 60 minutes late/termination short of destination/cancellation). It is admittedly very hard to keep passengers happy when their train is good as two hours late, but the best way is probably to keep them as informed and as reassured as possible.

The service in its present form is far from a disaster, and has many, many positives- I for one do find the Mk5 sleepers to be much more comfortable and better equipped than the Mk3s. I agree too that much of the moaning is absurd/groundless (such as the continual ’no announcements’ complaint, or minor/trivial issues regarding catering). That said, it is not yet perfect and I do think that CS need to take passengers’ legitimate concerns seriously, particularly given the fares that they charge and the expectation that their marketing now creates. Most hospitality businesses rely on customer feedback to evaluate what works and what doesn’t (as very few such businesses ever get their business model/policies spot on first time; successful business models are often the product of continual refinement), and I don’t think the sleeper should be any different.
 

Statto

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Caledonian Sleeper have made a very large rod for their own back.

Continual late boarding
Reservation issues
Lack of water
Lack of food
General failure to offer service advertised
Passengers being told to get to Euston from Crewe as replacement road service will not be calling there

When things work well 90% of the time no one really bats an eyelid when things go a bit Pete Tong

When the odds are stacked against the passenger getting the service they paid for then I am afraid as a company you are going to get heavily scrutinised
Trains terminating short because of severe late running, back in the summer, one of the southbound sleepers[think may have been the lowlander] because of late running terminated at Acton Bridge, not a great station to terminate at seeing as that's a village station with no facilities
 

Grumpy Git

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As a purely casual observer of this thread, I cannot think of any worse ways I would choose to travel to the far north. It reads like a script from an Ealing Comedy.

The one about a northbound passenger being stranded at Crewe as they should have gone to London to pick up the service is astounding.
 

Essexman

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In the case of (2), you're probably winning if you get a refund as unless you were in the seats the Off Peak Single is most likely cheaper than you've paid for the Sleeper which would be refunded.
But you may need to book a hotel at your destination at short notice, which may not be cheap.

The key is to offer a number of alternatives, nit just coach or cancel.
 

Sleeper69

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Trains terminating short because of severe late running, back in the summer, one of the southbound sleepers[think may have been the lowlander] because of late running terminated at Acton Bridge, not a great station to terminate at seeing as that's a village station with no facilities
I would love to know where your information comes from, i can guarantee 100% that the train did not terminate at acton bridge because of late running, i was terminated due to a defect that ment it could not remain in passenger service
 

Richard P

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An excellent and reasoned post by Mr Ed
I have said it before and I will say it again - communication is the key. Keep passengers informed as to what is happening and they may not be happy but at least they'll know what is going on. CS social media communication has been and continues to be somewhere between very limited and non-existent both on Twitter and more recently in particular on their website where service information no longer appears. On Mon 02.12 the Highlander from Inverness departed over an hour late with obvious knock-on effects for customers down the line. On Twitter there was absolutely no comment - okay so when you get to a station hopefully there's someone there to bring you up to date on developments but surely travellers who know their train is an hour later would rather spend that hour somewhere warm than on a freezing platform. Not everyone is aware of RTT, in fact I'd wager 95% of travellers don't even know it exists so it is up to CS to maintain communication in my view at all times
 

Mainliner

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In response to the latest tweet to CS yesterday about the en-suite water issues (“unbelievable. I'm yet to use the new service without major issues. This time there's no running water in the room so no functioning shower or basin”), CS replied “We're working with the manufacturer to eliminate these issues“.
 

leightonbd

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In response to the latest tweet to CS yesterday about the en-suite water issues (“unbelievable. I'm yet to use the new service without major issues. This time there's no running water in the room so no functioning shower or basin”), CS replied “We're working with the manufacturer to eliminate these issues“.
Yes, I read that (with trepidation), as my one experience with new stock so far showed the same issue (albeit sink rather than en-suite) and I have a Club (en-suite) room booked for a trip next week.

What does the manufacturer do? Bigger tank, bigger pipes, a pump that improves water flow? Doesn’t sound like an easy fix.
 

al78

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Yip pretty much what I would insist upon too.

Edit: I should add that a coach is probably one of the worst forms of travel available. If I'm booking a premium train journey what on earth makes CS think a coach is a viable alternative?
I don't understand why CS is called a premium service. It is not, it is a backpackers hostel on wheels (the most expensive cabins might be more comparable to a B&B room, I haven't tried those yet). Premium imples some form of comfort and service above and beyond the alternatives, with a higher price to match. CS only offers the latter, it is something functional which works (most of the time), but luxury or exclusive it is not, unless standards in the UK have plummeted.
 

Grumpy Git

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I don't understand why CS is called a premium service. It is not, it is a backpackers hostel on wheels (the most expensive cabins might be more comparable to a B&B room, I haven't tried those yet). Premium imples some form of comfort and service above and beyond the alternatives, with a higher price to match. CS only offers the latter, it is something functional which works (most of the time), but luxury or exclusive it is not, unless standards in the UK have plummeted.
Your last sentence has (unfortunately) a lot of truth in it.

Off topic, this is particularly true where workmanship is concerned. As someone who has experienced his fair share of hotel accommodation over the past 30 years, this is definitely the case, particularly bathrooms!
 

Bletchleyite

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Your last sentence has (unfortunately) a lot of truth in it. Off topic, this is particularly true where workmanship is concerned.
Though a Premier Inn (which is not a premium hotel) has generally far higher standards than CS (which allegedly is). I think other than a bit of wood effect sticky backed plastic that makes it look a bit posh, the only thing on CS that's premium is, seats aside, the price.
 

Grumpy Git

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Premier Inns vary massively in my experience and I would say their biggest problem (in the not so good ones), is the staff are useless. Not rude particularly, just very inexperienced when things aren't right.
 

Bletchleyite

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Premier Inns vary massively in my experience and I would say their biggest problem (in the not so good ones), is the staff are useless. Not rude particularly, just very inexperienced when things aren't right.
I think that's how they make it cheap, to be honest. Travelodges are even worse, the one member of staff on the desk is more usually someone who is basically a security guard who knows how to do basic paperwork and not a proper member of customer services staff. Though they're usually pleasant enough, so they can't treat them too badly.

CS seem, from anecdotes on this thread at least, rather more mixed in that regard.
 

jamesst

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Premier Inns vary massively in my experience and I would say their biggest problem (in the not so good ones), is the staff are useless. Not rude particularly, just very inexperienced when things aren't right.
Personally I've never once had a problem with a Premier Inn and I've used a lot of them!
 

Steamysandy

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I believe that Serco was previously involved in the running of the three principal Luxury trains in Australia (Indian Pacific,Ghan,Overland) but bailed out on being awarded the Caledonian Sleeper franchise.
So was their aspiration to be running something akin to their Australian trio?
 

ainsworth74

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I believe that Serco was previously involved in the running of the three principal Luxury trains in Australia (Indian Pacific,Ghan,Overland) but bailed out on being awarded the Caledonian Sleeper franchise.
So was their aspiration to be running something akin to their Australian trio?
It was certainly the aspiration, rightly or wrongly, of Transport Scotland for them to do so!
 

scotlass

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Personally I've never once had a problem with a Premier Inn and I've used a lot of them!
I agree with that. The two at the top of my list being the newer ones in Southampton - West Quay and Cumberland Place. Both within walking of Southampton Central.
 

GrimShady

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Personally I've never once had a problem with a Premier Inn and I've used a lot of them!
I use them a lot and while the staff do try they are pretty much useless for sorting things out when they go wrong with bookings being passed off to a phone number.

On the whole I do like Premier Inns very much, on average to are superior to the usual offerings of the travel lodge etc.

There is a big divide forming however in standard fittings. Some are very, very good others are still stuck in the 90s. The motel style ones are pretty naff compared to the city ones.
 

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