Free travel taken away by Rail Delivery Group. Be very careful with your Staff Travel Cards.

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Windandsea

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My wife has had her free travel taken away for LIFE due to the card being 'abused'. This is a warning to everyone to be super careful with the cards which apparently come with a 'no warning, instant life time ban' ruling.
This happened after a guard on the KX to Edinburgh route told her the date was too feint and he made the date clearer with his own pen. We thought no more of it.
Some time later, my wife started to put a date in and realised she had got it wrong and in clear ink made it bold and the right date, just 1 digit was slightly changed.
4 months later after several more trouble free journeys a guard seized the card and she was summoned to an interview to avoid a court case. She went along and on the 2 dates in question was asked where she had travelled.
She was honest (stupidly it turns out) and rather than saying she went a couple of stops, as she could have done, she said she had been with me on holiday to Scotland. So. £552 in fines later and being told that by being honest she wouldn't suffer further, she soon enough got the message that free travel was gone. For life.
For a guard overwriting her date and for her amending 1 digit.
Several appeals and even the intervention by her MP achieved nothing.
That for 30 years of service by me, complete honesty by her during the atrocious hearing that regularly brought her to tears and after being told that she would not suffer if she paid the fines there and then which she did. £552.
What an absolutely disgusting bunch of poor performing control freaks the RDG are.
 
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daveswest

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I thought that if you made a mistake in putting a date in a box , you had no option but to put an "X" across it and use another box correctly at your own forfeit ? Seems that with the guards alteration previously , one would consider that the boxes were being manipulated too much ? I was told never to alter anything in any box , scsrub it and suffer the days use :( They do seem to be getting far stricter on Priv use lately !
 

ge-gn

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I believe the correct action for both the original guard, and your wife on the two occasions would have been to cross out the box in question and use the next one.
 

Aictos

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I believe the correct action for both the original guard, and your wife on the two occasions would have been to cross out the box in question and use the next one.
Indeed that was the correct action when I worked on the railway and it also applied to the First boxes that First employees used to get.

The First boxes were if I remember 12 such boxes which allowed unlimited travel on any First rail operator at the time for 24hrs per box so First Capital Connect, First Scotrail, First Great Western, First Transpennine Express and First Hull Trains, they also gave you a limited number of tickets to use on First Buses as well as £5 rail passes that friends and family could use to sample First rail operations. Happy Days.
 

ge-gn

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Punishment seems a bit much.

Indeed. I was just mulling it over. Could the OP not appeal based on the fact that the guard in the initial case did not apply the correct procedure, therefore setting a precedent that the accused then followed (innocently, albeit incorrectly).
 

AlterEgo

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Very sorry to hear this. The correct action as people state is to cross out the box and use the next one (effectively losing a box). Has your Union been involved? Or perhaps you’re retired?
 

Haywain

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It may be harsh but to suggest that there is no warning is just silly. If you have had your travel benefits for 30 years I find it very difficult to believe you haven’t been aware of the rules and potential consequences around misuse.
 

185

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Many staff currently working on the railway for over 20 years don't have these "free travel" and "lifetime" benefits - instead replaced by "reduced price" and "if your still working here". Whilst many are very easygoing when it comes to staff travel, I do understand why some aren't especially when it comes to altered dates - some of those travelling on boxes haven't worked on the railway for 20-25 years, if at all.

In terms of procedure, Guard #1 sounds like they overwrote a faint date, but could have X'd it if they chose. I'm guessing Guard #2 observed multiple alterations (and could also of X'd it, with discretion) but withdrew the card for TIR.

As mentioned above, if a box looked a mess on my own pass, I would have X'd it myself for the avoidance of doubt.

The only times I've had run-ins with boxes passes have been a high number of DIY-fakes printed at home (so they weren't passes) ...except for one pass. Six days in a row, shown the same box every time - so badly altered (about 5 times each on all 15 boxes prior) by a dependant commuting 90 miles daily to and from university, at 90mph I unlocked a hopper window and suggested to it's owner to tell me to throw it out save him losing his pass and future career - which after kicking off at first, he finally understood and agreed.
 
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WesternLancer

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I'm sure the OP is aware of the letter of the rules, but as others have posted punishment seems harsh and thus smacks of a 'crack down' going on.
The staff goodwill lost (as is tangible from the OP's post) will often outweigh the benefits gained. Is it not the case that since end of BR, TOCs have to pay into the RDG scheme etc in respect of this, thus creating an incentive to remove scheme beneficiaries that would not have existed in times past - albeit always necessary to have the sanction of regular or flagrant abuse to be dealt with.
 

MotCO

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If the pass was issued 30 years ago, have the T&Cs changed, and if so, how is this brought to the attention of existing users? Is it possible that the user in this case did not know they were doing anything wrong?
 

221129

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steamybrian

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As retired BR staff I also have free travel boxes .
The rules clearly state....
If you make a mistake then cross the date through with an "X" and fill in the next box.
 

[.n]

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She was honest (stupidly it turns out) and rather than saying she went a couple of stops, as she could have done, she said she had been with me on holiday to Scotland. So. £552 in fines later and being told that by being honest she wouldn't suffer further, she soon enough got the message that free travel was gone. For life.

I'm a little confused at this point - why would it have been better to have been dishonest? Was the card not valid to Scotland either - so two offences?

The whole write dates things in concept for staff passes (and similarly for rangers/rovers/gold pass tickets/etc) has always seemed odd, as it doesn't allow for any (innocent) error to be made without out at least some form of penalty [as in this case], but also seems to allow for abuse. Additionally is allows confuses me that in this case guard 2, doesn't try and take the least harmful choice, just as a matter of courtesy - they (it seems from other posts) penalised (or corrected depending on viewpoint) the user by using another box.
 

richw

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they also gave you a limited number of tickets to use on First Buses as well as £5 rail passes that friends and family could use to sample First rail operations.
Get 48 train tickets a year as a first bus employee at £6. Friends and family bus tickets £8 for a weekly ticket.
 

Aictos

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Get 48 train tickets a year as a first bus employee at £6. Friends and family bus tickets £8 for a weekly ticket.
Must have gone up then as I know it was definitely £5 friends and family rail passes but I think only for 24hrs, it was a long time ago so you have to excuse my memory but the last time I actually used them was when First operated buses in East Lothian before they pulled out.
 

greyman42

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My wife has had her free travel taken away for LIFE due to the card being 'abused'. This is a warning to everyone to be super careful with the cards which apparently come with a 'no warning, instant life time ban' ruling.
This happened after a guard on the KX to Edinburgh route told her the date was too feint and he made the date clearer with his own pen. We thought no more of it.
Some time later, my wife started to put a date in and realised she had got it wrong and in clear ink made it bold and the right date, just 1 digit was slightly changed.
4 months later after several more trouble free journeys a guard seized the card and she was summoned to an interview to avoid a court case. She went along and on the 2 dates in question was asked where she had travelled.
She was honest (stupidly it turns out) and rather than saying she went a couple of stops, as she could have done, she said she had been with me on holiday to Scotland. So. £552 in fines later and being told that by being honest she wouldn't suffer further, she soon enough got the message that free travel was gone. For life.
For a guard overwriting her date and for her amending 1 digit.
Several appeals and even the intervention by her MP achieved nothing.
That for 30 years of service by me, complete honesty by her during the atrocious hearing that regularly brought her to tears and after being told that she would not suffer if she paid the fines there and then which she did. £552.
What an absolutely disgusting bunch of poor performing control freaks the RDG are.
It sounds to me that she has been extremely unlucky to have encountered two jobsworth guards.
 

Haywain

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In both cases i think the guard could have dealt with it by having a quiet word with her and explaining the issue.
We don't know that the first one didn't, and we know that the second one saw two altered dates which most would see as past the threshold for a quiet word.
 

Harold Hill

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Circumstances and bad luck but from where I'm standing ANY benefits for partner/spouse seems VERY generous
 

richw

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Must have gone up then as I know it was definitely £5 friends and family rail passes but I think only for 24hrs, it was a long time ago so you have to excuse my memory but the last time I actually used them was when First operated buses in East Lothian before they pulled out.
The £6 tickets are 24 hour rail rovers.
The £8 ticket are 7 day all opco bus tickets for friends and family.
 

father_jack

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It sounds to me that she has been extremely unlucky to have encountered two jobsworth guards.

In both cases i think the guard could have dealt with it by having a quiet word with her and explaining the issue.
From "inside" the business, the pass "earner" will rarely alter a box and if they do make a mistake or even try it on and it gets crossed or a word of advice is given, they will take it on the chin and be respectful.

Dependants and in particular the entitled "dependants of retired" (particularly those in never ending so called education although daddy retired 30 years ago at 55) are a different creature entirely.
 
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MikeWh

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This thread is in the disputes and prosecutions section of the forums and thus posts are required to remain on topic.

Please can we have no further comments about existing or previous staff schemes, and certainly no discussion about the differences between safeguarded and non-safeguarded staff and/or dependants.
 

RPI

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We only have one side of the story here remember.
 

robbeech

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The guard on the first train was wrong to alter the box. It's well known that any alterations can cause problems and unless they provided evidence to back up that the date was correct but THEY altered it they should have accepted it or requested it crossed and a new box used.
The second guard was following procedure. I know lots of the railway staff here think it's unfair because it affects them (a different tune when its a passenger unable to buy a ticket because of a broken machine for example) but the rules really are clear.

As for the punishment for their actions. If this is the full story. It really SHOULD be based on the second offence as an isolated case as it was the guard who altered the first box but was happy to accept the date. However, if the first offence carries this immediate removal of travel cards then this was still the right course of action.

If, and only if there is an official policy in place to allow one mistake then it should be treated as the first mistake. It appears this is not the case though.

Regardless of all this, there is no real regulation on this sort of thing so they can essentially do as they please.
 

skyhigh

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Personally I find staff passes to be quite difficult to enforce sometimes. A while back I had a woman on my train with a spouse free travel TOC pass (and I knew her husband). However... she was with a bloke who had no ticket, and when I asked was told "oh he always travels free on my pass when we go out together". Clearly wrong, but that was a potential hornets nest that I didn't really want to get mixed up in. In the end, I try to make my decisions based on "if I had a passenger with a complimentary pass doing this, would I report it?".

Ultimately, free or discounted travel is a significant benefit and the user needs to take care to make sure they stay within the rules. They're pretty clear about what you need to do and the consequences if you don't. I suspect the distance and sums involved in the OPs incidents might have exacerbated the issue. I really get the impression this is being cracked down on lately.
 

WesternLancer

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and in some ways I suspect if it was a long trip where does this get the railway. When the OP and wife wish to go to scotland again together they may well simply book cheap flights.
 
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