Guard discretion

Status
Not open for further replies.

s3an

Member
Joined
8 Sep 2011
Messages
95
I was travelling on a train earlier this week when two ticket incidents happened in a short space of time.

1. a couple didn't have their advance tickets, but had a letter/printout which was read by the guard and he let them travel.

2. a group of 4 were travelling on the wrong train for their advance tickets and had to pay again. It was over £100.

Both sets of people were in the same carriage and i was over the aisle from the couple and a couple of rows behind the group of 4. The couple remarked to me how lucky they were.

I'm not going to say what train, or route because I don't want someone to get into trouble.
Why discretion with the couple and not the group?

regards

sean
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

ANorthernGuard

Established Member
Joined
8 Oct 2010
Messages
2,564
Maybe he believed the couple and Not the Group? I take each incident as it comes, some I believe, some I don't. I am not always right but I bet i am, in the high 90's <D
 

ainsworth74

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Global Moderator
Joined
16 Nov 2009
Messages
22,833
Location
Redcar
Why discretion with the couple and not the group?

It seems to me that the couple were probably on the right train and had evidence to back this up whilst the group were just on the wrong train! It seems it's a simple as that from what you've said. If I were in the guards place I'd probably have done exactly the same thing.
 

Solent&Wessex

Established Member
Joined
9 Jul 2009
Messages
2,432
I was travelling on a train earlier this week when two ticket incidents happened in a short space of time.

1. a couple didn't have their advance tickets, but had a letter/printout which was read by the guard and he let them travel.

2. a group of 4 were travelling on the wrong train for their advance tickets and had to pay again. It was over £100.

Both sets of people were in the same carriage and i was over the aisle from the couple and a couple of rows behind the group of 4. The couple remarked to me how lucky they were.

I'm not going to say what train, or route because I don't want someone to get into trouble.
Why discretion with the couple and not the group?

regards

sean

1. There may be a good reason why they didn't have their advance ticket. For example, the machines may have been out of use at the station they joined the train (and the guard had been notified via the messaging system).

2. I don't see why any discretion should be showed in this instance, whether it was a "genuine mistake" or not (unless they were travelling later due to a missed connection, but this doesn't sound to be the case).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
It seems to me that the couple were probably on the right train and had evidence to back this up whilst the group were just on the wrong train! It seems it's a simple as that from what you've said. If I were in the guards place I'd probably have done exactly the same thing.

Ditto.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
P.s. - I dislike all this "discretion" business. I am constantly getting people moaning and winging that I should show them discretion when I won't let them off for not having a railcard / being on the wrong train etc. It strikes me that more and more of the time it is just being used a get out of jail free card for people who can't organise themselves or want to try and pull a fast one. Whilst this isn't always the case, more and more people just seem to expect on board staff to use "discretion" and then get stroppy when they don't.
 

dvboy

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
1,884
Location
Birmingham
In my mind, discretion should be used when there is a problem beyond the passenger's control for example delays, failure of equipment etc and sometimes the benefit of the doubt should be given too.

Those passengers who expect discretion to be shown when it's clear that they're trying it on or bending the rules shouldn't deserve it.

If rail staff want to expand on this for example allowing a passenger who asks politely to travel early on an advance ticket, where the passenger flow and ticket cost would be the similar, that's up to them (at the end of the day if you don't ask, you don't get).
 

Greenback

Emeritus Moderator
Joined
9 Aug 2009
Messages
15,370
Location
Llanelli
Discretion does seem to be a bit of a one way street in many people's minds. I have previously argued that train crew should not show any discretion, but I have now changed my mind as there ar eso many thigns that might go wrong for a passneger which is not their fault, that I don't think it would be workable after all.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I have tidied up this thread by removing posts that are off topic. If anyone would like to discuss the Sale of Goods Act, please feel free to start a new thread in General Discussion.
 

WelshBluebird

Established Member
Joined
14 Jan 2010
Messages
3,521
Out of curiosity, was the couple older than the group?
I tend to find that people (often subconsciously) give more discretion / trust to older people, even if that may not be the correct thing to do (while of course, sometimes it is the correct thing to do).
 

s3an

Member
Joined
8 Sep 2011
Messages
95
1. There may be a good reason why they didn't have their advance ticket. For example, the machines may have been out of use at the station they joined the train (and the guard had been notified via the messaging system).

They told the guard that they couldn't find their tickets.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Out of curiosity, was the couple older than the group?
I tend to find that people (often subconsciously) give more discretion / trust to older people, even if that may not be the correct thing to do (while of course, sometimes it is the correct thing to do).

Yes, they were pensioners, while the group were late 20s.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
But the guard has shown discretion in both cases.

Discretion - 'The right or power to decide or act according to one's own judgement.'

I'm not sure what discretion in the first case, as they had to buy new tickets.

In the second case I know from reading this forum the repercussions can be quite bad.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
If rail staff want to expand on this for example allowing a passenger who asks politely to travel early on an advance ticket, where the passenger flow and ticket cost would be the similar, that's up to them (at the end of the day if you don't ask, you don't get).

I must admit that when I split at Swindon, I sometimes show both tickets and ask if I have to get off and change to the next train 15 minutes later. Some are ok, some say no, I say thanks if I'm allowed to stay and ok no problem if they say no. Once the guard said no, went off and announced that any passengers with split tickets which weren't valid after Swindon would be charged for a full price ticket if they stayed on, and popped back at Swindon to make sure I got off :)
 

Flamingo

Established Member
Joined
26 Apr 2010
Messages
6,818
Must have been me ;)

In the OP's instance, I would guess that the first couple were on the correct train and had documentation to prove it (just not the "correct" documentation), the group were on the wrong train full stop.

Charging the first couple up would NOT have been common-sense, the second group were just plain wrong and hadn't a leg to stand on.

As an aside, I was advised by one of the old and bold to always treat everybody in a carriage the same, once you charge someone up, you have to charge everyone, once you let someone off, you have to let them all.
 

s3an

Member
Joined
8 Sep 2011
Messages
95
Must have been me ;)

I was amused at him wasting his time. Anyone who was split ticketing can't really claim they don't know the rules and deserves anything they get if they stay on the train without permission, so they don't need to be told. Coming down the train to check I'm getting off and then going to open the doors is just potentially delaying the train.

In the OP's instance, I would guess that the first couple were on the correct train and had documentation to prove it (just not the "correct" documentation), the group were on the wrong train full stop.

Charging the first couple up would NOT have been common-sense, the second group were just plain wrong and hadn't a leg to stand on.

As an aside, I was advised by one of the old and bold to always treat everybody in a carriage the same, once you charge someone up, you have to charge everyone, once you let someone off, you have to let them all.
I suppose I was expecting the second group to be given a warning like the couple because it would seem sensible to treat everyone the same.
 

yorkie

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
6 Jun 2005
Messages
51,517
Location
Yorkshire
I suppose I was expecting the second group to be given a warning like the couple because it would seem sensible to treat everyone the same.
But they're not "the same", there's no evidence they weren't on the correct train, is there?
I was amused at him wasting his time....
I do not agree it was a waste of time. It's a common problem, people splitting at Didcot and getting a train that does not call at Didcot, and then refusing to pay if challenged.

Fair enough, if you ask and then follow the instructions of staff, but not all passengers will do that. Some will not ask, stay on anyway, and if asked to pay for a Swindon-Reading ticket become abusive.
 

s3an

Member
Joined
8 Sep 2011
Messages
95
But they're not "the same", there's no evidence they weren't on the correct train, is there?
I just assumed they were both strict liability offences of not having a valid ticket.


I do not agree it was a waste of time. It's a common problem, people splitting at Didcot and getting a train that does not call at Didcot, and then refusing to pay if challenged.

Fair enough, if you ask and then follow the instructions of staff, but not all passengers will do that. Some will not ask, stay on anyway, and if asked to pay for a Swindon-Reading ticket become abusive.

I think they get their chance to pay and if they refuse, or become abusive, it is time for BTP.
 

GadgetMan

Member
Joined
9 Jan 2012
Messages
892
As an aside, I was advised by one of the old and bold to always treat everybody in a carriage the same, once you charge someone up, you have to charge everyone, once you let someone off, you have to let them all.

This is the way I work, but to give myself more wiggle room I tend to explain to the passenger that their ticket is not valid for x reason, and that they will need to buy a new ticket/pay an excess. If they kick up a fuss then I will deal with it there and then and charge the appropriate fare.

If they accept their mistake and are willing to pay or it is a situation where I may want to show discretion then I will tell them I'll return to them after completing my check of the rest of the train.

Doing it this way means you then know how many other people in that carriage are also on invalid tickets and makes it easier to then decide how to treat them as you have time to think about it whilst checking other tickets.
 

Skymonster

Member
Joined
7 Feb 2012
Messages
1,072
In the OP's instance, I would guess that the first couple were on the correct train and had documentation to prove it (just not the "correct" documentation)

Charging the first couple up would NOT have been common-sense

So the old couple could not have been travelling as a group of four, with the other two somewhere else on the train carrying and showing the valid tickets, and the couple mentioned sat with just the printout (thus four trying together away with only having paid for two)?

Given the general lack of sympathy extended elsewhere on this forum to people who are "caught" without a valid ticket (failure to show when requested...) I find it bizarre I'm the extreme that the couple would be let off

Andy
 

Oswyntail

Established Member
Joined
23 May 2009
Messages
4,183
Location
Yorkshire
So the old couple could not have been travelling as a group of four, with the other two somewhere else on the train carrying and showing the valid tickets, and the couple mentioned sat with just the printout (thus four trying together away with only having paid for two)?

Given the general lack of sympathy extended elsewhere on this forum to people who are "caught" without a valid ticket (failure to show when requested...) I find it bizarre I'm the extreme that the couple would be let off

Andy
That really does beggar belief. Do you really have to bend over backwards so far to show how much you despise passengers?
 

yorkie

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
6 Jun 2005
Messages
51,517
Location
Yorkshire
This is a bizarre thread. There are two scenarios. In one scenario it's a clear case of charging for a new ticket, which the guard did. In the other scenario we'd need a lot more information to 'judge' it, therefore I am perfectly happy to accept the guard's judgement.

The question of why people in different scenarios were treated differently answers itself!
So the old couple could not have been travelling as a group of four, with the other two somewhere else on the train carrying and showing the valid tickets, and the couple mentioned sat with just the printout (thus four trying together away with only having paid for two)?
I'm pretty sure the guard would have spotted that!
 

GadgetMan

Member
Joined
9 Jan 2012
Messages
892
So the old couple could not have been travelling as a group of four, with the other two somewhere else on the train carrying and showing the valid tickets, and the couple mentioned sat with just the printout (thus four trying together away with only having paid for two)?

Given the general lack of sympathy extended elsewhere on this forum to people who are "caught" without a valid ticket (failure to show when requested...) I find it bizarre I'm the extreme that the couple would be let off

Andy

OK, next time I go to London on an EMT advance, I'll politely show the RPI just the printout and see where it gets me. Anyone willing to bet I'll be allowed to travel without either also showing the ticket and the reservation coupon, or buying a new open ticket?

Andy

How a guard chooses to carry out their revenue protection duties is of no concern to anybody else on that train. We are employed after being deemed as responsible and able to use our judgement on the day. We are authorised to bend the rules where WE see fit.

Feel free to try it out next time you travel, you may get discretion shown or you might have the book thrown at you. That's just how it is, if a passenger breaks the rules and gets penalised for it then they should take it on the chin and learn from it. If a passenger breaks the rules and gets some leniency shown then they should count themselves as being very fortunate and also learn from their mistake and avoid it in future.

As other revenue staff have mentioned, we don't always get it right. But the majority of us come out the cab with the intention of providing a good service and protecting revenue effectively. I can only speak for myself, but I would like to think I make the correct decision 95% of the time when dealing with irregularities.


The same applies to all walks of life. I've been pulled over for speeding by the police a couple of times. Both times I was given a little telling off and let on my way. Now if I was given a ticket and penalty points, I would only have myself to blame, the fact I only got a telling off was lucky on the day.

I don't know if you've ever been in a situation like the above, but if the boot was on the other foot and you were caught out breaking the rules but the person in charge was showing some discretion, would you then stand up and beg to have the book thrown at you and be punished because you were in the wrong?
 

455driver

Veteran Member
Joined
10 May 2010
Messages
11,332
This is a bizarre thread.

Not really, it is following the usual "the staff are in the wrong for showing discretion/ the staff are in the wrong for not showing discretion" that we see so much of on here these days.

Of all the threads where I have answered a direct (sensible) question with a direct (sensible) answer, 2 have had the OP question the answer "because there must be more to it than that" (1 was the brake force runner thread, cant remember the other off hand) and 4 of the other threads have had the usual suspects try to add things to them so as to try and make the answer appears wrong/ suit their agenda of "staff bashing".

I see the sensible question about Reading to Paddington season ticket validity has been hijacked by "a usual suspect" saying it is valid into Euston as well because you can catch a once a week rail replacement bus and change at some junction in North London (not a station, a junction) which will make the journey less than 3 miles longer than the shortest route, therefore it is a legal route.

Its all getting rather tiresome.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
So the old couple could not have been travelling as a group of four, with the other two somewhere else on the train carrying and showing the valid tickets, and the couple mentioned sat with just the printout (thus four trying together away with only having paid for two)?
Andy

Your proof that this is the case?

No, didnt think so, and round we go again? :roll:
 

Skymonster

Member
Joined
7 Feb 2012
Messages
1,072
No 455driver, it was merely a suggestion as to something that cold have happened...

I'm not bashing staff... I really wish staff would show more discretion more often.

The problem is that a system that sometimes persecutes (sorry, potentially prosecutes) people who make innocent mistakes can't rely discretion - because discretion by its very nature is subjective. Whilst I think MORE discretion would sometimes be appropriate (FCC?), in reality law - railway or other - can't be applied arbitrarily and inconsistently based on the whim of staff. To do so creates the sort of chaos we see reported here on this forum sometimes where passengers expect to be treated one way suddenly find they're treated another. I regard consistency in applying rules as even more important and a vital means of ensuring passengers know what rules are likely to be applied each time they travel, and I think that's even more important than discretion.

Andy
 

Flamingo

Established Member
Joined
26 Apr 2010
Messages
6,818
I have lost count of the number of people who when caught bang to rights KNOWING they have breached NRCoC (I'm not talking foreign visitor who overshot their stop here), who have said "I thought you could use discretion". They were usually very unhappy with the reply "I can, your story isn't one that warrants it".

Discretion is the exception, not the rule. It does not mean the guard walking through the train saying "Does anybody want to buy a ticket? No? OK then!", or always saying "Yea, that's fine" when they are asked can somebody travel four hours early on their advance ticket because the meeting finished early.

Can somebody tell me who I'm NOT supposed to use my discretion with? Everybody has a story as to why they are a special case and a unique human being.

There are rules there that can be applied 100% of the time - suits me, I'm on 5% of what I sell. But if I apply them even 50% of the time, I will be getting told by my managers to use my discretion and be more flexible, as I'm causing trouble, complaints and delays.
 

Greenback

Emeritus Moderator
Joined
9 Aug 2009
Messages
15,370
Location
Llanelli
I'm not bashing staff... I really wish staff would show more discretion more often.

I regard consistency in applying rules as even more important and a vital means of ensuring passengers know what rules are likely to be applied each time they travel, and I think that's even more important than discretion.

I have no idea now whether you want more discretion or no discretion.
 

yorkie

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
6 Jun 2005
Messages
51,517
Location
Yorkshire
You can never get consistency. Not every passenger is the same. Not every situation is the same. Some days the guard will be busier than others. Some days the trains will be busier than others. Each guard is only human.

Demanding more consistency will backfire, as it would mean less discretion. It's a bit like simplification, more of that just increases fares.

No, it's not ideal, but that's just the way it is.

If you want discretion due to some unfortunate circumstance, go and approach the guard (or other member of staff) as soon as possible (before departure if practicable; sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't) and ask politely.

Last Tuesday a small group of us presented tickets for a delayed XC service at a station in Staffordshire. If we had just been going to that trains destination I suspect we would have simply been asked to wait for that train. If someone else had the exact same tickets as us, and had not approached staff, then they could have been charged a new ticket and that would have been correct. But we presented all our tickets, and explained that we had a tight connection. We were then offered the chance to take an earlier train operated by a company other than XC. Discretion was shown, and for good reason.

I would find it most unfair if another passenger had moaned at being charged if they held the same ticket as us, did not seek staff, and had not had an onward connection. That passenger could claim it is "fair" to treat everyone "the same" but that reasoning would be utterly false as not every situation is the same.

I am happy for guards to show discretion and I am not pleased to see guards be criticised on here for it.
 
Last edited:

Flamingo

Established Member
Joined
26 Apr 2010
Messages
6,818
So the old couple could not have been travelling as a group of four, with the other two somewhere else on the train carrying and showing the valid tickets, and the couple mentioned sat with just the printout (thus four trying together away with only having paid for two)?

Given the general lack of sympathy extended elsewhere on this forum to people who are "caught" without a valid ticket (failure to show when requested...) I find it bizarre I'm the extreme that the couple would be let off

Andy

One gets very experienced in this job from telling the genuine from the chancers, and it can depend on the story and how it is delivered. As a rule of thumb, if it doesn't sound likely, it probably isn't.

As an example last week, I took a train over from another guard half-way through it's run. I walked through asking for any rickets from X. I hadn't been on that train before, there were a lot of people looking out windows, asleep, whatever. I "woke" two (separate) passengers who were "asleep" to ask for tickets - neither had one. I asked one other chap for his YP railcard (the only one I did) - he didn't have it with him.

Why did I pick on those individuals for further investigation apparently at random out of the 200-odd people on the train? I don't know, but I was right with all three. Call it experience ;)
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top