Connections - or lack of....!

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yorkie

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On today's 1800 King's Cross-Edinburgh passengers for the 2011
York-Harrogate service were told by the guard (via the PA system) that
their connection WOULD be held, and would be cross platform from
Platform 9 to 8.

When passengers crossed to platform 8 they discovered their train had
left just moments ago.

The next train was not for nearly 2 hours.

* Why were they told the connection would be held?
* Who decided not to hold it, and why?

It is crazy decisions like this that put people off travelling by rail.

Northern cannot use the "GNER was late" excuse, because it was a
Northern train suffering power problems at Doncaster that caused a
delay to 4 northbound GNER and MML services, including further delaying
the 1800 King's Cross-Edinburgh by enough time to miss that connection.

This isn't the worst lack of connection I've witnessed, as last year
the worst example of customer service was Northern stranding 2 senior
citizens at Church Fenton, the guard telling them that their train to
Ulleskelf would connect at Church Fenton. In fact the train for
Ulleskelf departed as the other train was arriving. If only the guard
had told them to stay on to York they could have simply got an
Ulleskelf train from there. But no, they were left stranded.
Fortunately some other passengers were able to show them where to find
(unlabelled) telephones where they were able to organise taxis - but
only after Northern initially refused, eventually they were told to
"keep it quiet in case anyone else wants that". I don't know how long
it took for the taxi to arrive, but the couple were still there long
after their missed train had come back from York (which they could so
easily have been on). On that occasion it was Northern's incompetence
that left them with a taxi bill. What's their subsidy again?
In this age of reducing through journey opportunities and splitting
services, forcing people to use connecting trains rather than through
trains, it is vital that connections are held - but they are not being
held and I am very disappointed that the rail industry is putting so
many passengers off.
 
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Coxster

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If the GNER guard is told that the train is going to be held then of course they will announce it. If the York despatchers then decide to despatch the Northern service then it isn't the guard's fault as he just did what he's told - as do the crew of the Northern service. As for the GNER being delayed by anohter Northern service - that is totally unrelated.
 
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Tom

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It isn't unrelated ... the Northern service delayed the GNER which had the valid connection between the express and the local to Harrogate ...!
 

Coxster

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Tom said:
It isn't unrelated ... the Northern service delayed the GNER which had the valid connection between the express and the local to Harrogate ...!
In this situation is could've been a freight train that delayed the GNER - the point is a connection was lost AT YORK.
 

ChrisCooper

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It's why a franchise system more like the big 4 would work better. Since 'one' operates nearly all trains that connect off the London to Norwich service, whenever I've been on one that's been delayed that have made a good effort to hold connections. I've also quite often been on local trains from Norwich that have been delayed whilst awaiting a train from London. This goes back to the days of Anglia Railways when the same situation applied. I've had connections held a few other times, again in cases where it's the same TOC involved. In these cases it's within TOCs best interests to delay passengers by the least time, since they will be the ones paying out refunds, wheras when the connecting service is provided by another TOC, they will happily leave on time and leave the mainline TOC to pick up the bill. Since many TOCs pay out with an hour delay, holding a train a few minutes to people catch it is worthwhile, in particular since most branches are quite loosly timed, so gaining time back is easier, and they are much less likely to miss paths and get further delayed. Oviously holding connections becomes an even more significant matter when the service is irregular or it's the last train, since passengers will then want even more of a refund (with some TOCs, cause them to miss a 2 hourly connection and they get a refund), or will want alternate transport (taxi) or even overnight accomodation. In those cases, holding a train for a couple of mins is by far the best solution. The worst thing is though that I've seen trains allowed to leave ahead of a delayed connecting train even though the number who ended up waiting for the next train (or got taxis or buses) considerably outnumbered those on the branch train that was allowed out on time, and to make matters worse, the next train was then overcrowded due to having almost twice it's normal load. Despite this, the mainline train arrived only 5-10mins after the branch train was due to leave. Mad.
 

theblackwatch

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Glad I was on the 19.00 ex KX and 21.57 York-Harrogate this evening then!

Another lack of connection at York tonight - the 19.00 was around 20 late due to track circuit problems between Newark and Doncaster, so arrived at 21.22, 8 mins after the last train to Thirsk had gone. Guard annouced passengers for Thirsk to go to the information office upon arrival at York. I assume they were given a taxi home.

Things are no better when travelling from Northern connecting onto GNER - a few months ago, the train from Harrogate was late arriving at York. I made the London connection with about 10 seconds to spare (mad dash over the bridge), but I doubt any other passengers did.

For those who think it would be better with a single company - when Northern Spirit ran the Trans Pennine and local services, the Harrogate train was never held at Leeds, on several occasions I would see it pass me as we went round the curve into Leeds.
 

yorkie

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theblackwatch said:
Things are no better when travelling from Northern connecting onto GNER - a few months ago, the train from Harrogate was late arriving at York. I made the London connection with about 10 seconds to spare (mad dash over the bridge), but I doubt any other passengers did..
If it was the last train, or there was no train for an hour or more, I'd have made it be held! ;)
 

Table 52

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Okay guys- sorry to go against most of you but there is so much more than some passengers to think of when connections are or aren't held.

-Passengers getting that train (without connection) will be delayed despite it being ready
-If trains aren't running at the right time because they wait, they can delay other trains and become further delayed themselves
-Passengers may equally be on that train wanting their own connections, do you hold a third, forth, fifth train up?
-Also consider drivers and guards etc, they have better things to do than be delayed on their shift
-Late at night, there may be track posessions starting at certain times, if they run late for one little train, lots could be disrupted next morning

As a rule of thumb, connections should only be held in exceptional circumstances. One train delayed is bad, two or three is far worse.

I think it's disgraceful that they announce one thing for another to happen though, that should be sorted.
 

bunnahabhain

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There are very few booked connections on the railways these days, the only real connections that are advertised and run down a line with very few trains, or indeed only one a day are very likely to be held.

Either way it's the bigger picture that has to be looked at, perhaps if the local service had been held for the express, it would have delayed services along the line it was to travel, therefore having a knock on effect of all the services travelling down the line it went, further delaying that same train when it returned, and so on and so on, until you're cancelling trains simply because they are too far out of synchronisation to form the next service.
 

ChrisCooper

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Table 52 said:
Okay guys- sorry to go against most of you but there is so much more than some passengers to think of when connections are or aren't held.
-Passengers getting that train (without connection) will be delayed despite it being ready

In most cases the delay is a matter of minutes, something they are hardly going to bother about, wheras other passengers are probably going to be delayed by an hour or more. As far as passenger refunds go, for many TOCs, they could hold the train 29mins and not pay out a penny, yet if the connection goes and people have to wait an hour, they have to give them half the money back. Of cource, much of the problem is that it's the TOC that is delayed, not nececerily the one running the connecting service, that pays up.

-If trains aren't running at the right time because they wait, they can delay other trains and become further delayed themselves

We're talking branchlines here with hourly services or less. A slight delay is hardly going to be an issue. Most have enough slack that time can be gained back quickly anyway.

-Passengers may equally be on that train wanting their own connections, do you hold a third, forth, fifth train up?

Again, we're talking passengers getting of mainline trains onto branch trains. Few if any are going to be getting connections, other than perhaps buses, although in many cases they would be more frequent than the train anyway. In many cases, the delay would be very small, so well under a sensible connection time anyway.

-Also consider drivers and guards etc, they have better things to do than be delayed on their shift

Again, delays are minor, and if they are delayed finishing there shift they will get overtime pay. I've never known a crew to have a problem holding a train anway. Anyway, what about people on there way home for work or a trip out who are delayed because the connection isn't held. I'm sure they have better things to do, and they are paying for the privalage, not being payed.

-Late at night, there may be track posessions starting at certain times, if they run late for one little train, lots could be disrupted next morning

Again, were not talking about holding trains on the WCML here, or for hours, were talking about holding a branchline train for a few minutes.

The whole issue comes down to common sence. Whilst delaying a frequent, busy, mainline train for a few passengers of a branchline would be stupid, sending a branchline train out ontime but near empty since the mainline train that many passengers connect onto it from is a few mins late is stupid aswell, and overall causes the railway to loose money and passengers to be angry.
 

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Hi Gang!!

Not read the thread in it's entirety as, to be frank, I'm not going to. So if anyone has already said this, I apologise.

Although there were such things as connections in the days of BR, such things no longer exist. In fact, I think you would be hard pressed to find a service in any public timetable that is advertised as a connecting service.

While it makes sense for Northern (and others) to time there departures to coincide with the arrivals of Intercity operators such as GNER, these are not "connections" as such. Under the current delay attributions systems, TOC's cannot justify a late departure on the late arrival of another operator's service and will have to front up the delay payments themselves. Therefore, if the GNER doesn't get there until after the Northern service's departure time, passengers will find that their train will have gone without them.

However, if the TOC's in question have an agreement to hold trains in times of disruption, the service may indeed be held (although I would imagine that this could be subject to restrictions, such as applying only to the last train of the day). If this was the case, what the GNER guard had been told by his Control may have been correct and he has, in good faith, relayed this information to his passengers. Unfortunately, if Northern's Control have not relayed the same instruction to their train crew, they would not be aware and would depart as normal in ignorance of the arrangement made between them and GNER.

You see, it's not as straightforward as it used to be.

one TN
 

yorkie

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At the end of the day if Northern can't be bothered to hold that local train for 2 minutes, it causes a large taxi bill, or a lot of money in refunds, and I'd certainly hope Northern would pay given that it was one of their trains that caused Doncaster to come to a standstill for 6 minutes, thus causing the connection to be missed.

If a large taxi bill is what they want, then that's what they get. Unfortunately it's us taxpayers who have to pay in huge subsidies.
 

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Someone said something about connecting buses being more frequent than the train service. Hmm, hmm and urgh, hmm, no. This is totally incorrect.

I cite an example from First Cymru's bus services in Swansea. A passenger (and this is a journey I could have easily planned to make as of last year) could be travelling home from London to Swansea on a FGW service (I pity them, but that's neither here or there right now) to connect with the X14 at Swansea. This service runs ONCE a day city-bound, ONCE a day back north. It is, to the best of my recollection, the ONLY service to serve the village beginning with 'G' between Penllergaer and Pontarddulais (I haven't looked at the timetable to find the name). Apart from this loop, the X13 runs more frequently the other way, avoiding this village. It's more a commuter run, but not entirely. Now, suppose the HST is delayed (wait, I'm sorry, there's no need to be hypothetical really now is there...) by a significant amount. Let's say...30 minutes. Not too uncommon that amount of delay...Anyway, the connection between the HST arrival and the X14, to memory, is gone. What will the passenger making that connection do? Shrug it off and say 'Never mind, I'll pay a lot of money for a taxi'? Stupid bugger if they do. But would the TOC be willing to fork out for onwards travel? Unless they had a PlusBus ticket on top of their transport (which most people don't do because you can't get bus and train travel paid for on the bus, you have to buy it in advance), no chance. I've missed MANY connections because of this, and the buses were actually much less frequent than the trains (in the evening, trains run between Cardiff and Swansea at least double the amount of 111 buses in Swansea)

And you see just how frequent the X40 off Cardiff to Aberwys... is. One a day. More frequent than trains? Don't make me laugh.
 

theblackwatch

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Failed connections between trains/buses can work the other way too, and bus/bus connections are no better either. A couple of years ago I visited the Dartmoor Railway by train/bus. The bus back from Okehampton to Exeter rolled up about 50 minutes late. "Traffic's busy today" says the driver - no apology. Luckily I had around 90 minutes in Exeter before my train to Castle Cary for the 31s.

When I had and interview for my job where I work now, I went by bus. 20 minute connection in Wetherby, buses every 30 mins. First bus turns up 25 minutes late, and arrives in Wetherby bus station just as the second bus pulls out. As I was fitter back then and there was a traffic queue, I managed to run to the first bus stop 3 streets away and beat it there!
 

O L Leigh

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yorkie said:
At the end of the day if Northern can't be bothered to hold that local train for 2 minutes, it causes a large taxi bill, or a lot of money in refunds, and I'd certainly hope Northern would pay given that it was one of their trains that caused Doncaster to come to a standstill for 6 minutes, thus causing the connection to be missed.

If a large taxi bill is what they want, then that's what they get. Unfortunately it's us taxpayers who have to pay in huge subsidies.
I think you may be overstating the matter a tad. ;)

Unless that is the last train of the day (and, considering the hour, I doubt that it is) I'm almost certain that there would be no requirement on Northern to provide taxis or give refunds. I would expect that they would have to pay a share of the delay payments under the delay attribution system, but that would be about all.

one TN
 

yorkie

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They'd have to give partial refunds as it would cause passengers to be approx 2 hours late.

It would normally be only 1 hour but at this time of night that is extended.

They could refuse to do a taxi - but if someone had an expensive ticket it could cost them more in refunds to delay them by that length of time. I suppose it depends on the numbers involved.
 

theblackwatch

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Remember though, most people don't bother applying for refunds. I know a few 'normals' who were surprised when I told them that 'the railway' would provide them with a taxi if they missed the last train home - they would have paid for it themselves!
 

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I was once on a delayed (due to a 60 failing!) and diverted HST via Yarm and was about 40 mins late into York and passengers were told Scarborough train would wait and just as we pulled into the station it left and there was another announcement that passengers would have to get the next one in an hours time or something... Luckily the 91 to LKX waited but that was further delayed south of Donny due to a bird hitting the train in front(!) and people missed the last connections from Peterborough and it got into London about an hour and a half late and I got home at 1am!
 

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you get this alot on merseyrail wirral line, and the borderlands line (bidston - wrexham). if the merseyrail train from liverpool is over 2mins late then it stops, lets the arriva trains wales, bidston train leave to wrexham, then continues into bidston. therefore passengers from liverpool have to wait an hour for the next service!! sometimes 2 hours if not peak time, its a joke

the borderlands line services are always late, 2/3 a day get cancelled at Shotton, and its only 1 tatty 150 carriage that forms the train. Arriva needs to sort there ideas out.. either improve the line, or let northern take it back
 

yorkie

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This topic proves why we need through services.

Even where connections are held, passengers are wary that they may not be held - and rightly so as the TOCs cannot be trusted to keep to their word - this puts people off travelling if their journey requires a change of train.

It's ironic that the incompetence of the franchised TOCs in terms of connections is leading to the growing demand for open access operators on the ECML (HT and GC), as passengers (rightly) demand through trains. The franchised TOCs have made their bed, they can now lie in it.

More open access operators will be likely if TOCs continue to not hold connections and split services for operational convenience at the expense of customer inconvenience.

It's rather like a restaurant saying "Sorry, you cannot continue your meal here, you can go elsewhere in an hour" ;). Before I get a load of replies saying "It's nothing like that", it's just metaphorical and not to be taken too seriously. But I think I have a point - the customer is hardly being given priority here!
 

bunnahabhain

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yorkie said:
But I think I have a point - the customer is hardly being given priority here!
Surely you will agree that two delayed passengers who can catch a later train is far better than hundreds of thousands of delayed passengers on many different trains caused by hundreds of trains being held for connections.

It'd be a step backwards in my opinion, gone are the days when branch lines were pretty much self contained with one train running from a little bay platform at a junction station, through some wayside country ramshackle halts, to a tiny little station in the middle of nowhere.

Instead, the majority of branch line services share the same line, and occasionally platforms with the main line services, meaning a train held for a late train means more trains are in turn delayed by both trains being late, causing more to be late, etc etc. It's like a game of dominoes, knock one over, and you can stop it, by putting in a block, but if you let it continue, they'll all fall down!
 

yorkie

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Jamie said:
Surely you will agree that two delayed passengers who can catch a later train is far better than hundreds of thousands of delayed passengers on many different trains caused by hundreds of trains being held for connections.
Depends on the circumstances.

In the case of the Bidston line, they should be through trains - they only reason why they aren't is lack of electrification. So yes the trains should be held in that case. Otherwise you could use the argument that all trains should run at shuttles to ensure that trains are not delayed (e.g. GNER London-Peterborough shuttle, which gets to Peterborough just as the Peterborough-Doncaster leaves, which gets to Doncaster just as... you get the idea!).
 

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The Bidston example sounds a little unbelievable - since the Wrexham service must leave from the same platform, the DMU surely can't be booked to leave the reversing siding for a good couple of minutes after the EMU has left the station, with a few minutes more before it departs in service? That'll leave your EMU standing out on the main line for a good while - probably to the point where it'll delay the return working! A delay of five or ten minutes I can understand; two sounds a little less reasonable.

In general, there's lots of good reasons why connections can't always be held (particularly at a busy station like Doncaster or York, where the connection could then be left standing a few minutes more to let a couple of expresses go by!), as well as a few valid but not-quite-so-good reasons (arguments over which TOC pays the delay minutes etc.!) - that's the modern railway though!

Incidentally, how do you define a 'booked connection'? I'm probably as guilty of using this word as the next man, but what does it mean? I know there's 'valid' connections (where you've got at least the minimum connection time for that station), and connecting services are sometimes shown in public timetables based on this information. What makes it a booked connection though?
 

O L Leigh

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yorkie said:
Even where connections are held, passengers are wary that they may not be held - and rightly so as the TOCs cannot be trusted to keep to their word - this puts people off travelling if their journey requires a change of train.

It's ironic that the incompetence of the franchised TOCs in terms of connections is leading to the growing demand for open access operators on the ECML (HT and GC), as passengers (rightly) demand through trains. The franchised TOCs have made their bed, they can now lie in it.
Hi Yorkie,

I'm afraid that the railways just don't work like that any more, and it isn't the fault of the TOC's.

While the situation continues that TOC's are made to pay penalty payments for late departure and late running of their trains, "connections" will not be held. Without wishing to harp on about everyone's favourite topic, this would never have happened if the track and the trains had not gone to seperate companies at privatisation. However, they did and to ensure that each company's performance was not affected by the performance of another, a system of financial penalties was imposed on the railways based on the attribution of delay minutes. This means that it is not in any TOC's interest for trains to run late if it can possibly avoid it, no matter how good a reason they may have.

As I said before, I would expect that there are actually very, very few connecting services advertised in the timetable, for the very reason that I outlined above. Just because a Harrogate train leaves York five minutes (or however long) after a GNER service arrives from London, this does not make it a connecting service. It has to be advertised as such. This is the point that I fear a very large majority of rail users fail to grasp and I'm sure is the root of all the pent up emotions that you indicate. The sooner that the travelling public get it out of their heads that services still "connect" like they did in the days of BR the better equipped they will be to successfully use the rail network.

one TN
 

yorkie

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one TN said:
Hi..Just because a Harrogate train leaves York five minutes (or however long) after a GNER service arrives from London, this does not make it a connecting service. It has to be advertised as such...
Yes, you are correct, if it is 5 minutes at York, you could hope to make it, but it's not a valid connection so you can't really complain if you don't make it.

But if it's 8 minutes at York, then it is a valid connection so it is a connecting service. It would be bookable on through tickets and shown as a connecting service on tickets, and it could be shown as a connection in any applicable timetable.
 

Table 52

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Okay Yorkie, the train is a connecting service by your definition. But- it is connecting on the basis that the 1st train runs on time. The only 'rights' Kbesides financial compensation) that your connecting train times give you is that if you were booked on an advance purchase ticket, you could use the next train without penalty.

There are some services actually advertised as connecting- these relate largely to engineering works, eg, a late evening bus replacement that will connect to or from a train. That, I would expect to wait in most circumstances.
 

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Surely if it is advertised and written in the timetable as a connection it should be held, as the TOC or PTE are advertising a service to the customer. I'm sure there is no condition written in the timetable along the lines of 'subject to on-time running of the connecting service'. And in this day and age, TOCs like to put in so much slack on certain routes that it would hardly make any difference to most services if they were held for a couple of minutes!

To be honest, it should be the customer who is put first in most cases in my opinion. They are paying, in some cases a lot of money, to use the service, and they should expect a cerrain degree of effort on the part of the TOCs to ensure they experience as few problems as possible en-route.
 

Table 52

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laverack222 said:
Surely if it is advertised and written in the timetable as a connection it should be held, as the TOC or PTE are advertising a service to the customer.
It's advertised in the timetable to make journey planning easier for the customer, it in no way constitutes a binding contract to hold the train.
 

Tomnick

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laverack222 said:
Surely if it is advertised and written in the timetable as a connection it should be held, as the TOC or PTE are advertising a service to the customer. I'm sure there is no condition written in the timetable along the lines of 'subject to on-time running of the connecting service'. And in this day and age, TOCs like to put in so much slack on certain routes that it would hardly make any difference to most services if they were held for a couple of minutes!

To be honest, it should be the customer who is put first in most cases in my opinion. They are paying, in some cases a lot of money, to use the service, and they should expect a cerrain degree of effort on the part of the TOCs to ensure they experience as few problems as possible en-route.
Even if there was an agreement to hold a service for a few minutes, if the incoming service was slightly delayed, it's clearly not practical to 'always' hold a connection! What if the mainline train, in the original example, had been more heavily delayed? You can't hold a train forever, especially where the majority of passengers using it will probably already be sitting on board, (im)patiently waiting for two or three others to turn up off another train! That's the other point really - the customer (or passenger, if you prefer!) maybe should be given a bit of consideration, but what about the dozens of others who are, as far as they're concerned, needlessly delayed?
 
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