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Cancelled trains due to lack of staff

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paulfoel

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Seems wrong to me that TOC are allowed to do this. Anyone in the know tell me - do they get fined or something?

Turned up today for my train - cancelled due lack of staff. Something not quite right here. Surely the TOCs have some sort of contingency in place? So possibly 100 or so people are affected and late for where they need to be because one person calls in sick or something?

Strikes me that we want people to use public transport for their commute but this sort of thing is allowed to happen. Not saying if there should be anything done about it but human nature tells you that if trains start to get cancelled and you end up late for work, most people are going to say stuff it Im taking my own car.

Also, I think I'll get about £3.50 back in delay repay. Great. 45 mins late into work. Not even minimum wage to cover my wasted time sitting on the platform.
 
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GB

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Seems wrong to me that TOC are allowed to do this. Anyone in the know tell me - do they get fined or something?

Turned up today for my train - cancelled due lack of staff. Something not quite right here. Surely the TOCs have some sort of contingency in place? So possibly 100 or so people are affected and late for where they need to be because one person calls in sick or something?

Strikes me that we want people to use public transport for their commute but this sort of thing is allowed to happen. Not saying if there should be anything done about it but human nature tells you that if trains start to get cancelled and you end up late for work, most people are going to say stuff it Im taking my own car.

Also, I think I'll get about £3.50 back in delay repay. Great. 45 mins late into work. Not even minimum wage to cover my wasted time sitting on the platform.

Do you wan't your ticket cost to double so you can have 100's of spare crew sitting about just in case someone goes sick?

In the real world (not just a passengers bubble), things happen.
 
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EM2

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How do you know that they've called in sick?
More likely, the train they were on (whether working, or as a passenger) has been substantially delayed or cancelled, or a taxi that was supposed to take them has failed to turn up, or there's been a rostering error and no-one was actually rostered to work that train, or they've been relieved of duty for some reason.
TOCs do have contingencies (or 'spares') but how many should they have? Where should they be based?
 

Starmill

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It ought not to be a regular occurance. It may happen occasionally, or during genuinely exceptional circumstances. If it's happening several times a day that suggests there's a structural issue with staff levels (see also: GTR). What service was it?

Do you wan't your ticket cost to double so you can have spare crew sitting about just in case someone goes sick?

In the real world (not just a passengers bubble), things happen.

Of course. No train company has any spares at all, ever, and they would be permitted to bypass fares regulation and they would ignore their demand curve in order to provide some without any adverse effects.

People need to please stop saying in response to a problem 'don't you want the fare to go up'. This isn't how it works!
 
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yorkie

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Seems wrong to me that TOC are allowed to do this. Anyone in the know tell me - do they get fined or something?
Pretty much, yes. If they fail to meet their performance targets.
Turned up today for my train - cancelled due lack of staff. Something not quite right here. Surely the TOCs have some sort of contingency in place? So possibly 100 or so people are affected and late for where they need to be because one person calls in sick or something?
Some train companies are better than others in this respect. I have never known it happen with Virgin Trains East Coast (or their predecessors) out of hundreds of journeys.

However if you travel with GTR, then it's a regular occurance these days and will be for a while yet.
Strikes me that we want people to use public transport for their commute but this sort of thing is allowed to happen.
I don't see how it can be not "allowed" to happen, other than penalising the operator for failing to meet their PPM targets, in order to encourage them to emloy sufficient staff to reduce such occurances., what more can be done?
Not saying if there should be anything done about it but human nature tells you that if trains start to get cancelled and you end up late for work, most people are going to say stuff it Im taking my own car.
I think the likes of GTR know that many of their commuters have no realistic alternative though!
Also, I think I'll get about £3.50 back in delay repay. Great. 45 mins late into work. Not even minimum wage to cover my wasted time sitting on the platform.
Try commuting by bus; you won't get a penny back for such a delay!

Do you wan't your ticket cost to double so you can have 100's of spare crew sitting about just in case someone goes sick?

In the real world (not just a passengers bubble), things happen.
I don't think ticket prices need to double to provide sufficient cover!:lol:
 

northwichcat

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It happened for quite a while under old Northern and it seemed the problem was a lot of staff had left and they couldn't get new staff trained straight away. Old Northern always seemed to cancelled the most lightly used peak time services which meant for the people who used those services they had regular disruption for a while. I'm not sure if the situation the OP describes with whatever operator it is, is similar.
 

najaB

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People need to please stop saying in response to a problem 'don't you want the fare to go up'. This isn't how it works!
If staffing costs go up, someone is going to pay for them. There are three options: the passenger through fares, the taxpayer through subsidies or the operators through reduced profits. The Government has a stated policy of reducing subsidies to transfer costs to the passenger, so that leaves the passenger or the company. I know which I think is more likely.
 

DarloRich

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It ought not to be a regular occurance. It may happen occasionally, or during genuinely exceptional circumstances. If it's happening several times a day that suggests there's a structural issue with staff levels (see also: GTR). What service was it?



Of course. No train company has any spares at all, ever, and they would be permitted to bypass fares regulation and they would ignore their demand curve in order to provide some without any adverse effects.

People need to please stop saying in response to a problem 'don't you want the fare to go up'. This isn't how it works!

but it is - although perhaps not directly as is often suggested. If we want better/more/different services we have to pay. The government have made this clear and I doubt the TOC wants to reduce its profit margin by increasing its staff costs.
 
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Metroman62

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The local paper in High Wycombe picked up on a story about Chiltern cancelling trains owing to lack of crew. In the article, Chiltern gvae their reasons which related to staff training

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/new...for_cancelling_trains_due_to_lack_of_drivers/

Article -


A furious traveller has blasted a train company for cancelling services on the busy bank holiday weekend due to a “shortage of drivers”.

South Bucks residents who tried to head into the capital to enjoy the long weekend were hit with a number of cancellations, forcing them to find a different route or abandon their plans.

Jeremy Holmes, from Beaconsfield, had attempted to get into London on Saturday (August 27) using Chiltern Railways but had to cancel his trip after a lack of train drivers meant services had to be cut in and out of the capital.

He said they added “insult to injury” by cancelling trains again the next day, “disrupting or ruining people’s plans for days out in London over the holiday weekend”.

He added: “They summarily cancelled 14 services in and out London due to a ‘shortage of drivers’. As a result, the services left were erratic and I decided not to go into London for the day, and had to let two people know I wouldn’t be meeting them, which nearly incurred significant cancellation costs to me.

“This is quite simply incompetent, poor management that cannot make provision on the busiest travelling weekend of the year for cover staff.

“If they come back with some pathetic excuse about holiday period, it is simply unacceptable – it would be like a restaurant closing because all its chefs were on lunch break.”

A Chiltern Railways spokesman said a combination of driver training for the new service into Oxford city centre and an “unprecedented” number of incidents where people have been hit by trains has resulted in changes to their services.

They added: “We do everything we can to avoid making short notice alterations to our timetable; and we try to communicate any changes as quickly as possible so that customers can plan journeys effectively.

“Over recent weeks we have experienced an unprecedented number of incidents ....
 
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KTHV

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I would stomach the inconvenience of the odd canceled service as opposed to a fare rise to be honest
 

bb21

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Seems wrong to me that TOC are allowed to do this. Anyone in the know tell me - do they get fined or something?

Every cancelled train has a cost attached, of course.
 

LAX54

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It ought not to be a regular occurance. It may happen occasionally, or during genuinely exceptional circumstances. If it's happening several times a day that suggests there's a structural issue with staff levels (see also: GTR). What service was it?



Of course. No train company has any spares at all, ever, and they would be permitted to bypass fares regulation and they would ignore their demand curve in order to provide some without any adverse effects.

People need to please stop saying in response to a problem 'don't you want the fare to go up'. This isn't how it works!




Errr, yes they will, to have more spare staff hanging around, just in case, costs money, the TOC will need to get that money from somewhere, their income is derived from fares, therefore there will be in increase to cover their increased costs.
TOC's (and FOC's and NR) all have have 'spare' staff, but there are times when there are just not enough to go round
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The local paper in High Wycombe picked up on a story about Chiltern cancelling trains owing to lack of crew. In the article, Chiltern gvae their reasons which related to staff training

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/new...for_cancelling_trains_due_to_lack_of_drivers/

Article -



14 Services (so I assume 7 based on one train in same train out) does not mean 14 drivers 'off' could be just 2, or 1 driver and 1 Guard ?

Those cancelled on 27th ...From Beaconsfield 1009.1125. 1903.2203.2238 From Marylebone: 1943. 2013, so the person saying he could not travel on that day, was not telling the whole truth now was he ? LOL
 
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Starmill

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Errr, yes they will, to have more spare staff hanging around, just in case, costs money, the TOC will need to get that money from somewhere, their income is derived from fares, therefore there will be in increase to cover their increased costs.

Please read my post, I've just explained why it's a fallacy to say that a more reliable service would mean higher fares.

No matter how many times people on the Internet keep saying it, it isn't particularly accurate. I find it very odd that so many people are taken in by such a simplistic analysis. Also I do wonder where the thread is about the increase in cancelled trains that will result from the reduced fares Northern have recently applied to some areas, or the increase in reliability on the routes where they have increased fares by up to 25% - even though these may be the same traincrew depot.
 
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cjmillsnun

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People need to please stop saying in response to a problem 'don't you want the fare to go up'. This isn't how it works!

It really is how it works. People want paying to do a job. If there aren't enough drivers, then more have to be recruited, they need paying - that's a cost, that has to be accounted for. Either that's more subsidy (=tax money) or more direct revenue (=fare goes up)
 

LAX54

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Please read my post, I've just explained why it's a fallacy to say that a more reliable service would mean higher fares.

No matter how many times people on the Internet keep saying it, it isn't particularly accurate.


Either the taxpayer will pay more tax, or the fare payer will pay more in fares to cover the cost of running the train, think you will find overall that it will be the passenger !

so you own a Bus Co, but keep canceling buses due to lack of staff, you hire 3 more drivers, all in all lets say thats another £100,00 per year, you are saying that as owner of this Bus Company you will fund this increase in costs out of your own pocket ?
 
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Starmill

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Either the taxpayer will pay more tax, or the fare payer will pay more in fares to cover the cost of running the train, think you will find overall that it will be the passenger !

You can say that until you're purple in the face, it won't make it any more true.

I'll give you an example. The Northern Direct Award to Serco-Abellio that expired in April had a 3 fronted approach to reduce the subsidiy the DfT paid for it. The first was to increase revenue, which they did by increasing ticket prices in the evening peak in various places and charging £80 to people whom they deemed rule breakers. The second was to reduce costs in the business' administration and the third was for the franchisee to make less profit. All three were achieved, the subsidiy went down and the number of trains was increased. In all likelihood the number of passengers increased too, and that little bit of extra capacity here and there (from things like 319 introduction) may have attracted the odd new user who no longer fears overcrowding so much. They also managed to improve performance of trains by working on the timetable, and run a small number of additional trains. This was while they made less profit and the government gave them less money. Transformational change in the future means that fares revenue will almost certainly go through the roof because so many more people will be willing to use trains once services are half decent, seats are available and they don't look like buses from the 1980s. The fares have gone down in some areas (although they are going up a lot in others) but the whole operation is only going to get more and more efficient as trains get longer and fuller - even at the same fares as ever.

If it were really up to the fare payer to pay all of the running costs of the railway, there would be no profits whatsoever in a franchise while there were still regular staff shortages.
 
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gareth950

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Arriva Trains Wales has been guilty of cancelling services due to 'a shortage of train crew / staff / conductors / guards / drivers' on a regular basis and it hit a crisis last month when there was weeks of daily full or part cancellations to services across Wales for these reasons.

Of course, ATW weren't as honest with passengers and called it 'ongoing operational challenges', which of course no passenger understood.
 
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najaB

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You can say that until you're purple in the face, it won't make it any more true.
The Northern example isn't what is being discussed in this thread though - if everything else stays the same (which it didn't in Northern's case), increased costs will most likely be passed on to the fare paying passenger.
 

yorkie

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It really is how it works.
Not really. If it was, then a £51.80 SDR from Brighton to London would get you a really reliable service, would it not? In reality, there are numerous trains which are cancelled due to staff shortages.

The fare from Bicester to London, is only a few quid more for an SOR, which is reasonable for a much more flexible fare and it's a few miles further. And yet Chiltern rarely cancel trains due to staff shortages!

As I said before, VTEC seem to manage to have enough staff nearly all the time.

I reject the idea that only companies with expensive fares employ enough staff!
 

Bald Rick

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Yes, they do get fined:
by DfT (or whoever the TOC concerned is contracted to), and,
by Network Rail (as per the track access contract).

On top of that they then pay out compensation to passengers - for those that apply of course.
 

yorkie

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The Northern example isn't what is being discussed in this thread though - if everything else stays the same (which it didn't in Northern's case), increased costs will most likely be passed on to the fare paying passenger.
Again I am confused by what you are trying to say (other than present an alternative view in as many threads as possible?)

Are you saying that fares are more expensive on companies that employ sufficient staff? If not, why are you attempting to suggest that is the case? if you are, present your evidence and I will debunk it.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Yes, they do get fined:
by DfT (or whoever the TOC concerned is contracted to), and,
by Network Rail (as per the track access contract).

On top of that they then pay out compensation to passengers - for those that apply of course.
Thank you for confirming this.

It's clearly a false economy for train companies to regularly suffer from staff shortages due to not employing enough staff, and does not mean fares are cheaper than if they provided enough staff.

Obviously a one-off shortage at short notice due to some unexpected circumstances can happen anytime and no amount of additional staff can prevent that from ever happening, and clearly isn't the matter at hand here. The fact is some train companies do not employ sufficient staff to provide cover, while many do.
 

Bald Rick

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Not wishing to prolong the argument - but all other things being equal*, to improve reliability on a railway costs more cash.

Where that cash comes from is of course only from two sources, as according to Bowker's Law.

* naturally all things aren't equal. Some railways are comparatively easy to run (c2c, Chiltern, Merseyrail). Some are hard (GTR in particular, being by far the hardest). But the best example of how throwing money at a railway improves reliability is the North London Line. Fares didn't go up. But subsidy did, hugely.
 

najaB

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Are you saying that fares are more expensive on companies that employ sufficient staff? If not, why are you attempting to suggest that is the case? if you are, present your evidence and I will debunk it.
I am not aware that I have made any comment on the comparative merits of different TOCs. I would appreciate if you could point me to the post where I have done so in order that I can edit it.

As far as I know, all have said is - and I'll spell it out again to ensure that you don't read anything into my words that I haven't said - were a TOC to employ more staff without making any other changes, their wage bill would go up. And that higher wage bill would be necessarily have to be paid for by one of three parties: the tax payer, the TOC or the fare paying passenger.

The DfT has a long-standing policy of reducing subsidies so it is unlikely to be them. Which leaves the TOC (in the form of reduced profits) and the passenger (through higher fares). My bet would be that it would be the passenger.
 

Starmill

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I think we're back to where we started. Some cancelled trains during to train crew issues are inevitable and perfectly normal. If it happens on a regular basis when there are not exceptional circumstances, there's a problem that needs to be remedied.

I think we'll just leave it at that and say that some members need to avoid the constant comparison of 'do you want to solve this problem and are you willing to pay higher fares for it' because it's a knee-jerk reaction to an understandable complaint, and it's not a sensible comparison for many many reasons.
 

bb21

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Please read my post, I've just explained why it's a fallacy to say that a more reliable service would mean higher fares.

No matter how many times people on the Internet keep saying it, it isn't particularly accurate. I find it very odd that so many people are taken in by such a simplistic analysis. Also I do wonder where the thread is about the increase in cancelled trains that will result from the reduced fares Northern have recently applied to some areas, or the increase in reliability on the routes where they have increased fares by up to 25% - even though these may be the same traincrew depot.

Increased staffing levels -> increased costs

and

Lower costs -> improved reliability

surely are not the same thing? For a start, improved reliability (a very broad concept) and higher staff levels (a specific requirement) are two pretty much distinct concepts with only some natural connection.

I think you are all arguing about different things which makes this whole debate a little pointless.

Not saying your arguments are wrong, just that they are not valid counter arguments for the claims made upthread.
 

yorkie

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I am not aware that I have made any comment on the comparative merits of different TOCs. I would appreciate if you could point me to the post where I have done so in order that I can edit it.

As far as I know, all have said is - and I'll spell it out again to ensure that you don't read anything into my words that I haven't said - were a TOC to employ more staff without making any other changes, their wage bill would go up. And that higher wage bill would be necessarily have to be paid for by one of three parties: the tax payer, the TOC or the fare paying passenger.
You said earlier "increased costs will most likely be passed on to the fare paying passenger" and appear to be backing up the claim that this means employing sufficient staff means higher ticket prices. Is that what you are saying or not? If that is what you are saying, there are many examples where that is not the case which I can give. If it's not, perhaps you can clarify?
The DfT has a long-standing policy of reducing subsidies so it is unlikely to be them. Which leaves the TOC (in the form of reduced profits) and the passenger (through higher fares). My bet would be that it would be the passenger.
So you are saying that employing sufficient staff to provide sufficient cover means higher fares? Given there are numerous examples where that is not the case, you really cannot be so certain of that.

You seem to be ignoring the costs of cancelling services, and ignoring the reduction in patronage which is the result of an unreliable service.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I think you are all arguing about different things which makes this whole debate a little pointless.
I think we are, which could have been avoided if certain over-the-top and simplistic claims (which are absolutely in direct contrast with reality on some lines, e.g. London Overground's network) had not been made earlier in the thread ;)
 

bb21

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I think we are, which could have been avoided if certain over-the-top claims had not been made earlier in the thread.

The same can be said about a lot of the claims in this thread. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in between. :lol:

I watch on with amusement.
 

najaB

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You said earlier "increased costs will most likely be passed on to the fare paying passenger" and appear to be backing up the claim that this means employing sufficient staff means higher ticket prices. Is that what you are saying or not? If that is what you are saying, there are many examples where that is not the case which I can give. If it's not, perhaps you can clarify?
If you read the thread again you will note that I have made no comment at all on the appropriateness of staffing level at any TOC.
 
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