failure by multiple TOCs to carry passengers with itineraries.

Bletchleyite

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She posted a copy of her ticket on LNER twitter. Shurely if she missed her connection at Glasgow due to the fault of the railway she should be able to travel on the next LNER service from Glasgow ie 0648 tomorrow?

View attachment 57456
I think that would indeed be technically correct. Though I would be surprised were there not an argument about it.
 
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I’m not sure that this would be fair.
LNER were given no opportunity to do anything about it as they were unaware there was an issue. Trainline provides tickets for services that were in the timetable at the time the booking was made. (I suppose it could be argued that they would have benefited from letting her know that BOTH her trains no longer existed but I’m not sure how they implement this) ...
Has the OP's friend asked Trainline for assistance? The number is 0333 202 2222. Any retailer will have the means to determine what happened and to help out.

I can see 'cancellation' timetable entries for all departures from Ayr (for instance) before the 0829 to Glasgow Central, for Tuesdays and Wednesdays from Christmas Day to today, 2/1/19.
 

robbeech

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Just saying, and it doesn't alter the basic point in any way, but wasn't the pictured ticket issued on 24th December at 08.46? Whatever, I'd have been furious in the situation described!
As has been said that was the time she will have collected that ticket along with the advance for her outward journey. She caught the train around that time on the 24th at Peterborough.
 

mrmartin

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This is completely ridiculous and the railway needs to get its act together. Last minute late timetable uploading is becoming the 'new normal' and I imagine this makes mistakes like this a lot more likely (as less time available to double check).

I think the OPs friend would have been best to make their way to edinburgh and speak to the LNER staff there - but I suppose it's a huge gamble if you have had two nonexistent trains already.
 

robbeech

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Especially when you have a ticket type that generally prohibits it. She wasn’t sure she’d ever get any refund given it specifically says you can’t on the ticket. Add that to the stories of people prosecuted when they make a simple mistake (admittedly a small Number compared to the number prosecutes for deliberate fare evasion) and there’s no wonder That regular passengers are scared to get on a train let alone infrequent travellers.
 

robbeech

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There’s one thing that we can be fairly sure of. Next year when she makes exactly the same trip, she will go in the car. She used the fact that she could book a pair of tickets in first class for less than £50 each way as an incentive to not have to drive there. It’s unlilely she will bother again.
 

mrmartin

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Found the twitter thread. I have no idea how you'd know that a rail replacement bus based on what has been going on. Also isn't in the timetable today so I very much doubt it would have shown up on the passenger information screens.
 

Darandio

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Found the twitter thread. I have no idea how you'd know that a rail replacement bus based on what has been going on. Also isn't in the timetable today so I very much doubt it would have shown up on the passenger information screens.
Care to link to it? I cannot find it.
 

Bletchleyite

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Not even mentioned on the Christmas summary here:

https://www.lner.co.uk/travel-information/travelling-in-the-future/a-guide-to-festive-travel/

Wednesday 2 January
  • 07.52 from Aberdeen to London King’s Cross: Stops at Newcastle, Darlington and York will only be for passengers to alight.
  • 07.55 from Inverness to London King’s Cross: Stops at Newcastle, Darlington and York will only be for passengers to alight.
  • 09.52 from Aberdeen to London King’s Cross: Stops at Newcastle, Darlington and York on the will only be for passengers to alight
Very poor.
 

sheff1

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Obviously TOCs and their agents should not be selling tickets for trains which are never going to exist .. but if they do, then 'the railway' should be making appropriate arrangements to convey the holder to their ticketed destination at no extra charge.

Equally obviously no use to the OP's friend now (and no criticism of her intended - if you don't know, you don't know), but I am posting for the possible future benefit of others ......
.... train services in Scotland always start later than normal on 2nd Jan. Anyone managing to purchase a ticket in advance for a Scotrail train supposedly leaving at 0513 on 2nd Jan should be looking to check nearer the date. Scotrail confirmed on their website on 16th November the times of the first trains on each route.
 
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Killingworth

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As has been said that was the time she will have collected that ticket along with the advance for her outward journey. She caught the train around that time on the 24th at Peterborough.
As recently as the 24th she quite innocently understood she had a specific 1st class seat booked on a train from Glasgow. It seems LNER may not have decided to start their train at Edinburgh until nearer the day, but in November Scotrail had publicised late starts across Scotland, probably including the Ayr line. Presumably there are no specific reservations on the Ayr trains so the ticket would be valid on any train.

At least 3 failures and various weaknesses in rail systems identified.

Fragmentation where tickets for LNER and Scotrail are sold by Trainline and possibly printed by a TVM weeks later, maybe even by a machine operated by another TOC. We are left with a worrying impresion that similar tickets for a journey today would probably have been printed this morning without any notice that the trains no longer existed.

Surely Scotrail know 2nd January is a Bank Holiday and must have been aware late starts were likely when timetables were compiled and should have factored them in before post-9th December bookings were accepted. (50 years ago 1st January wasn't a Bank Holiday in England, but in Northumberland nothing much stirred before lunch time!)

The inter TOC arrangements for bus replacement services leaves a lot to be desired, especially for anyone unfamiliar with rail travel generally, and even more so when using a station in a place far from home.

However the lack of ownership of the problem and providing a solution goes back to fragmentation of the railway. Someone should have been able to take control, used their discretion to issue some form of emergency ticket, and sent the customer away late, but home tonight, at the railway's expense.

I'm sure users of services from Hull would echo the feelings about bus replacement facilities!
 

bb21

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I think episodes like this warrant a letter of complaint to her MP, the DfT, the ORR, and relevant TOCs' MDs, including LNER, Virgin, and ScotRail (but perhaps slightly less so). There are so many failures along the way which culminated in this "magnificent" failure I genuinely don't know where to start.

The industry love to talk about looking after its customers, but many in the ranks seem to forget that it is not the fancy publicity customers remember, but the odd failures. There were so many opportunities along the way for this shocking failure in customer care to be averted but of course that never happened. Sounds quite simple, doesn't it? Nevertheless the industry cannot at the moment get these simple things right, and on a day predictably with headlines flying about over the annual fare rise. Wonder why the reputation of this industry is deep in the gutters?

Absolute disgrace of a show, collectively.
 

Clarence Yard

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That is probably a bit over the top.

The fault lies with LNER for allowing an LTP train to enter the system with base quotas attached, without cancelling them off (by making them nil) for the days on which the service was still in doubt, quotas to be re-activated later when the STP alterations for that day were uploaded.

I can imagine the confusion today at Glasgow with the Virgin staff looking at their daily sheet and not being able to make any sense of it. It’s not something that staff on the ground would often see. Again no marks to LNER for not realising that tickets had been sold for that train beforehand - decent quota managers would have spotted that one or maybe they did and just thought it was a system error? If they did, that would have been a very bad call.

A letter to the LNER MD is probably in order asking for an explanation as to why they allowed a ticket to be sold for a non-existent train and then made no effort to contact affected passengers.
 

sheff1

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That is probably a bit over the top.

The fault lies with LNER for allowing an LTP train to enter the system with base quotas attached, without cancelling them off (by making them nil) for the days on which the service was still in doubt, quotas to be re-activated later when the STP alterations for that day were uploaded.
Not over the top in my view. I have no idea what that "LTP" & "STP" stuff is supposed to mean, but to suggest that an 0513 service from Ayr on 2nd Jan was in any way "in doubt" is just not credible. The chances of that train running were zero.
 

Martin66

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That is probably a bit over the top.

The fault lies with LNER for allowing an LTP train to enter the system with base quotas attached, without cancelling them off (by making them nil) for the days on which the service was still in doubt, quotas to be re-activated later when the STP alterations for that day were uploaded.
What is an LTP train?
 

Hadders

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I think episodes like this warrant a letter of complaint to her MP, the DfT, the ORR, and relevant TOCs' MDs, including LNER, Virgin, and ScotRail (but perhaps slightly less so). There are so many failures along the way which culminated in this "magnificent" failure I genuinely don't know where to start.

The industry love to talk about looking after its customers, but many in the ranks seem to forget that it is not the fancy publicity customers remember, but the odd failures. There were so many opportunities along the way for this shocking failure in customer care to be averted but of course that never happened. Sounds quite simple, doesn't it? Nevertheless the industry cannot at the moment get these simple things right, and on a day predictably with headlines flying about over the annual fare rise. Wonder why the reputation of this industry is deep in the gutters?

Absolute disgrace of a show, collectively.
I think this is spot on. Errors and cock-ups will happen from time to time, regrettable and unfortunate but the reaction from front line staff to a clear and obvious error is appalling. What makes it worse for me is that if the customer booked on line 'the railway' will have the passengers details so if there is a change of status relating to the train there should be a way they can be contacted.

I hope that as a minimum LNER will be arranging a couple of 1st class complimentary journeys.
 

bb21

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That is probably a bit over the top.

The fault lies with LNER for allowing an LTP train to enter the system with base quotas attached, without cancelling them off (by making them nil) for the days on which the service was still in doubt, quotas to be re-activated later when the STP alterations for that day were uploaded.

I can imagine the confusion today at Glasgow with the Virgin staff looking at their daily sheet and not being able to make any sense of it. It’s not something that staff on the ground would often see. Again no marks to LNER for not realising that tickets had been sold for that train beforehand - decent quota managers would have spotted that one or maybe they did and just thought it was a system error? If they did, that would have been a very bad call.

A letter to the LNER MD is probably in order asking for an explanation as to why they allowed a ticket to be sold for a non-existent train and then made no effort to contact affected passengers.
I don't think it is over the top at all.

To me the most disappointing thing is that it is a nasty example of collective failure of the whole industry, right from journey planning to the day of the journey itself, rather than that of just one individual organisation.

Just taking the TOCs as an example, LNER are at fault for releasing quota on trains that aren't confirmed, despite it being one of the most likely for STP alterations, and network planning problems being widely publicised across the industry for months. All it required is an awareness that they are likely to be selling customers broken promises at a time when there is a higher chance of less experienced customers frequenting the network. Perhaps they did realise that, but still thought it better to put customers in that position, leaving them to sort things out nearer the time of travel (?!).

Virgin's failure to me appears more perplexing. Did they ever think of briefing their front-line staff what to do when a customer presents an apparently invalid but legitimately booked ticket for a seemingly non-existent service? Our lot had retail briefs (in theory) on that matter. Have theirs? This isn't an issue that only reared its head last few days. It has been a problem for months. What is Virgin's policy when their staff are the only ones on site to help and a customer seeks their help despite not technically being "their" customer? (Again I doubt this is a first occurrence as this isn't the first 2nd January they operated out of Glasgow Central.) Is there a helpline staff can ring to try and find out more information? Is there a contact number for LNER their Glasgow staff would be aware of? If not, is there a way for them to find out another TOC's contact number? What is Virgin's policy when a customer through no fault of their own is at risk of being stranded, when there is a perfectly reasonable alternative (Virgin services via London/Birmingham or CrossCountry via Edinburgh/York)? Do they train their staff to try various methods to at least get the customer on their way so that they could be better assisted at a more suitable location, or is their fallback policy to just tell the customer to buy a new ticket (possibly having to shell out hundreds of pounds before claiming it back)? There are so many things Virgin could have done to help the customer, almost certainly without the eventual outcome of the customer being stranded (which is effectively what happened here). Very poor show.

ScotRail are perhaps more excusable however they still could have blocked Advance quota on those services even if they are just connections if the timetable weren't finalised. This isn't normally an issue as there would be alternative services however they should have been well aware that STP alterations on 2nd January is standard fare with no alternatives at certain times of the day. Did they ever do any impact assessment of reduced planning timescale which were always forecast to last a good while? If they paid more than lip service to a customer-focused approach they would have.

This whole NR planning debacle in my opinion exposed right from the beginning a shocking lack of customer focus across the industry at many different TOCs (including my own at times if I may add). There seems to be an attitude in many quarters that Customer Relations would be able to sort out whatever issue the customer experienced, and compensate accordingly if needed. Far too often, both on and off this forum, I hear about incidents in which the customer is left to his or her own device through no fault of their own (and often the industry's). Unfortunately in many cases sorting things out afterwards is no good because sometimes you will not get a second chance to put things right again. Having a customer-oriented approach with real substance starts from the very beginning of the planning stage, including an awareness of factors that may impact on customer journey experience (including journey planning and ticket buying) - from the customer's perspective, and having suitable action plans to try and minimise, if not eliminate, any negative effect. The latter, in my experience, is sadly lacking in large parts of the industry.

While my comments can sometimes appear overly critical of the industry, and I do appreciate that sometimes mistakes are made as we are all human, it frustrates me hugely that despite the best efforts of many hardworking people genuinely wanting to improve the image of the industry and making it as pleasant as possible for the customers on their travels, far too frequently the industry cannot get some of the most basic things right, and often all it takes is an awareness and appreciation of the issues from the customer's perspective. More frustratingly in many cases for an eventual incident to occur, there would have been multiple smaller failures along the way, and the whole incident could have been avoided if just one of these small failures did not materialise.
 

bb21

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What is an LTP train?
Long-Term Plan.

Those are the base timetables you publish twice a year, generally, sometimes referred to as WTT (Working TimeTable) trains.

Services then get altered nearer the time as required, usually referred to as STP (Short-Term Plan) trains, or VSTP (Very Short-Term Plan) trains, the latter usually no more than 24 hours ahead.
 

sheff1

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From a customer perspective it seems to me that Virgin at Glasgow Central are the 'worst' offenders here.

Yes, the passenger should not have been able to book a ticket for a non-existent train ... but after they had done so and presented themselves at GLC at the booked time, to be told by Virgin staff that the problem was "nothing to do with them" whilst also being told they could not travel with another TOC unless they purchased a new ticket (without, it would appear, any attempt to contact either Scotrail or LNER or, the second best option, directing the passenger to them) is very poor indeed.

The obvious solution would have been to get the passenger to Edinburgh on Scotrail where there would be plenty of trains onward to Peterborough - this would have not involved travel on any "other TOCs" as she was already booked with Scotrail & LNER.
 

bb21

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The obvious solution would have been to get the passenger to Edinburgh on Scotrail where there would be plenty of trains onward to Peterborough - this would have not involved travel on any "other TOCs" as she was already booked with Scotrail & LNER.
To me, the most obvious solution if staff had no authority for getting the customer a taxi to Edinburgh or any luck getting through to LNER, given the likely timings, is a word with the guard on the 0747 CrossCountry service, to convey the customer to either Edinburgh or, better, York.

Yes there is a possibility the guard may say no, but once explained I would imagine most guards would be happy to help out. To not even suggest that possibility to the customer is mind-boggling imo.
 

robbeech

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Thankyou for all of the replies, all of which essentially backup my views.

She is travelling by car tomorrow night (overnight) back from Ayr to Peterborough, LNER won’t allow travel on the (probably) running 0648 3/1/19 and Scotrail won’t allow travel on the 0513 3/1/19 anyway as the ticket is nog for that date. Their attitude appears to be (though they haven’t worded it like it) ‘because the trains don’t exist you have to get a refund and buy a new ticket’. Of course, an FOS is over 3 times the price.

Photos exist of the glc departure boards and I can confirm that the 0648 was not displayed at all as a train or bus. I have no reason to consider that ‘BG’ would give out incorrect advice about the bus details but that whole situation was incredibly strange.

I will politely write separately on her behalf / draft a series of letters for her to send to all of the people involved and her MP and the ORR (not that she’s incapable of writing letters you understand) and see what each of them say.

Overall it’s a very disappointing display of customer service from pretty much everyone involved.

but I am posting for the possible future benefit of others ......
.... train services in Scotland always start later than normal on 2nd Jan. Anyone managing to purchase a ticket in advance for a Scotrail train supposedly leaving at 0513 on 2nd Jan should be looking to check nearer the date. Scotrail confirmed on their website on 16th November the times of the first trains on each route.
My opinion on this is (likely the same as yours) if they are always starting later on 2nd Jan why would they EVER be in the timetable to start with ? I use trains frequently and consider my knowledge of them to be above average and whilst I know 2nd Jan is a bank holiday in Scotland I’m not aware that they start really late on that day. As someone who sadly (but often usefully) has less trust in the railway than most I would have checked nearer the time anyway but why would the average infrequent rail user do that. Infact when we met in the pub a few weeks ago* she told me exactly what trains she was getting and neither rang any alarm bells.

*certainly by this date the Scot Rail wouldn’t have been in the timetable but again, why would you question it?
 

Hadders

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LNER won’t allow travel on the (probably) running 0648 3/1/19
That really is quite disgraceful considering the circumstances. Although too late for travel today one would hope that given senior management from LNER read this forum they get in touch with the passenger and do the right thing.

The press would have a field day.
 

Bletchleyite

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That really is quite disgraceful considering the circumstances.
Her train from Glasgow was cancelled (it doesn't matter when or why, it was cancelled). She is entitled to travel on the next available train of the same TOC, which is the 0648 this morning. Technically, as an overnight wait was involved, hotel accommodation should have been provided in Glasgow. This seems to me to be completely obvious within the terms and conditions of the ticket and the NRCoT. LNER are completely in the wrong here.

The "stuff you, have a refund of your 50p and pay us £100" thing is rather Ryanair. LNER surely don't want to be associated with that mob.

I think this rather shows that re-renationalising LNER doesn't remove the VTEC attitude problems and turn them back into the old East Coast, sadly.
 

BanburyBlue

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Surely the big failure here is the lack of notification of the change of service. Accepting that the Trainline sold a ticket in good faith, once it became known that the booked train no longer existed, the Trainline should have contacted all customers they had sold tickets to so they could 're-arrange' their journeys. Obviously this should apply to all TOCs/Travel Agents who sold tickets on this service.

If you buy tickets on line, then you either have to have an account, or enter an email address for them to send you the booking reference (or am I mistaken here?).

Accepting of course, that there needs to be internal systems so a ticket seller is notified when the WTT is changed.
 

yorkie

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See https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/scotrail-boxing-day-timetable-troubles.175561/#post-3803894 for another recent example of this. A significant number of people seem to misunderstand these situations but hopefully people reading these threads can get an understanding of the issues.

Has the OP's friend asked Trainline for assistance? The number is 0333 202 2222. Any retailer will have the means to determine what happened and to help out.

I can see 'cancellation' timetable entries for all departures from Ayr (for instance) before the 0829 to Glasgow Central, for Tuesdays and Wednesdays from Christmas Day to today, 2/1/19.
I'm not sure what a retailer can do? Yes, the customer is entitled to a full refund from the retailer because of the cancellation, but the customer doesn't want a refund, they want to travel. All a retailer can realistically do is offer an assurance that the ticket remains valid on the next available appropriate services.

But the customer has been inconvenienced, mistreated and/or misadvised by train companies and it is the train companies who should be looking after the customer.
Thanks. Been looking at some of the offshoots to those conversations as well, that Craig Matthew Walker guy really is something else. o_O
Indeed. Wow. I had a look at Craig Matthew Walker's tweets in the Twitter thread, and found these absolute gems of misinformation:

https://twitter.com/againstthefew/status/1080438323854917632
the trainline and many other apps sell tickets for trains that would normally run on these days if u choose to buy from a non toc website then it is up to you to check the train is running before you purchase the ticket not the individual toc you wanted to travel with so tough
It is not "tough"; the customer has a contract to be conveyed and must be conveyed on the next available appropriate alternative services, and entitlement to delay compensation is based on the original contracted arrival time.

The tickets would be available through all retail channels.

https://twitter.com/againstthefew/status/1080437717996056578
you cant travel before 10am with a 16-25 railcard discount so your tickets aren't valid for travel anyway
This appears to be a claim that the ticket issuer incorrectly issued the ticket with a 16-25 Railcard, based on this individual's misconception that such Railcards cannot be used before 10am.

If you don't understand the terms of Railcards, it's not a good idea to go making such accusations. Just admit you don't understand the minimum fare rule (which does not apply to Advance fares anyway!).

https://twitter.com/againstthefew/status/1080436528072060928
service levels have been well advertised for months both online and at stations plus its the same every year so your legal letter what a joke get a life you hippy. I should sew you for offending me with that ridiculous hat but it does match your ridiculous tweets so fairs fair.
What an odd individual, I will aim to keep an eye out to see if they misadvise anyone else.

Twitter can be really useful for communicating issues and seeking advice and comments on a public platform where anyone can read/contribute (it's completely different to emailing or phoning about an issue), however some things posted on Twitter can be totally incorrect, so you need to carefully consider if the source is knowledgeable and reliable or not (train companies are not always correct though).
 
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Bletchleyite

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All a retailer can realistically do is offer an assurance that the ticket remains valid on the next available appropriate services.
And the problem in this case is that LNER seem to be saying otherwise, in direct contravention to the NRCoT and ticket T&Cs which state that if your train is cancelled then you can use the next available service of the same TOC, which so happened to be 24 hours later than the originally booked one.

Making her wait 24 hours is not great to start with, but stating that the ticket has no validity other than a refund is factually incorrect. It is the passenger's option of whether they choose a refund or travel on the next available train of that TOC, which was this morning's service.
 

Clarence Yard

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Yorkie, the person you quoted seems to be a real piece of work. Don’t anyone rely on his advice being gospel!

It really is pure laziness on the part of LNER. When loading up their timetables for Dec-May or May-Dec they should know that bank holiday periods will be different and not allow quotas until they know for certain what the timetable will be on that day. They know that retailers will sell tickets for that permanent timetable (and for periods in excess of 13 weeks out too) so there is no excuse for not ensuring sales for potential non existent trains don’t happen. It’s poor management and they are probably mis-selling, a very serious matter.

What the Virgin staff at Glasgow probably suffered from was both a lack of aptitude and indifference to the plight of the punter. There was obviously something wrong here but they failed to connect the dots. Having not done so, they were indifferent to what happened next, apart from advising to buy a new ticket. No-one thought to get hold of LNER (even at that time of day) to try and sort it out.
 

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