Holding delayed trains

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by infobleep, 18 May 2015.

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  1. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    When trains are delayed, whose job is it to ask the station staff to hold the train?

    Tonight I got to Gatwick Airport to catch the 18.03. At 18.00 they cancelled the train as it was running late and were starting it from Redhill.

    I asked what we should do and a man in Gatwick Express uniform spoke to someone on his radio. They said go to Redhill on the 18.10 as the train will be held for us.

    This was then announced over the loud speaker. Cue loads of people going from platform 3 to platform 2 to catch the Victoria train, which is fast to Redhill.

    As I got towards Redhill I could see the 18.13 was shown as running a minute late. Once I got here it was no where to be seen. We had pulled into platform 2.

    I spoke with a member of Southern despatch staff who said Gatwick Airport never asked us to hold the train so we despatched it. I said wouldn't that be the job of First Great Western. He said they only told them at the last minute it was terminating short.

    Once I saw online the unbound train was late I tweeted First Great Western to ask if it would be started short as I expect actually. I didn't expect it to leave without us though. In the past I've always caught trains when they have cancelled them from Gatwick.

    The train eventually left 1.5 minutes late but still 2 minutes before we arrived. At least one passenger is going to be 2 hours late home as a result of a missed connection. Very good of the station staff at Redhill to let them make a phone call to their husband.

    So whose call is it on holding trains?

    There was no other train I could catch although I could have carried onto Clapham Junction, which would have got me in at a similar time. So instead of getting in at 18.41, I will be in at 19.21 because this particular service seems to run slower than most stopping services from Redhill to Reading. Passengers for Reading will arrive 50 minutes late, assuming it isn't delayed on route and all because they couldn't hold the other train for another 2 minutes. After all it left 1.5 minutes late. I'm not talking about a few connecting passengers here but a whole load from Gatwick Airport. I imagine the other train left fairly empty.

    Anyway like I said previously I've got the train when this has happened so I doubt it's a regular occurrence. I did once miss a connection due to the rail replacement bus from Gatwick getting held up towards Reigate.
     
  2. Matt Taylor

    Matt Taylor Established Member

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    Decisions about holding trains will generally be made by control offices rather than station staff.
     
  3. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    I am awaiting a reply from Northern regarding a similar incident when passengers from Huddersfield were told a train would be held at Barnsley to take us on to Sheffield when the ex-Huddersfield train was being terminated there to to late running.

    The (ex-Leeds) train was not held. At that time of night Barnsley is unstaffed, so I assume a message would need to be sent to the driver of the Leeds train via Control or a signalman. Clearly no such message had been passed.
     
  4. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    Next train was late into Guildford, which doesn't surprise me. It had a 4-5 minute wait there so it can lose that time. However it was enough to stop someone catching a train to Haslemere that left three minutes after we should have arrived.

    Surprised there wasn't any complaining tweets to First Great Western, beyond my asking questions and then reporting what didn't happen.

    Incidentally at Gatwick Airport the incident was reported A signaling problems. On National Rail Enquiries it was reported as waiting a member of train crew. Note the train left Reading on time and started to run late from around Dorking.

    OK mistakes happen and it's unlikely both were the reason, given train left Reading on time but that coupled with the train not being held doesn't paint First in good light.
     
  5. Bishopstone

    Bishopstone Member

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    Considering the importance of the destination, the infrequency of the service (hourly) and the fact many airport-bound folk travel with heavy luggage, the number of fGW short turns/starts at Redhill on Gatwick trains is pretty scandalous.

    Mind you, the general operation of Gatwick Airport station and the train service passing through it shows the scale of change that would be necessary if a second runway were built there. As stands, the ticket queue would be back to Three Bridges.
     
  6. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham Established Member

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    Nothing at all to do with the signallers!!
     
  7. 313103

    313103 Established Member

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    Nothing to do with Station staff either, unless they are a Manager who can make such decisions.
     
  8. Tomnick

    Tomnick Established Member

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    It certainly ought to be - once Control have made their decision, it's nice to know about it so that you know not to pull off (or take any other action necessary). Hopefully the traincrew will already be aware before they're standing there wondering why the signal hasn't come off, but it'll have the same effect if not!
     
  9. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    They want to run three trains on the North Downs Line so my be if that happens people won't get delayed by so much when they do short start the trains. Of course that's only helpful Monday to Friday.

    I know when the train is running 20 minutes late it will be terminated / started short. Yet this only ever seems to be publicly announced at the last minute. Usually after I've decided it's likely to be cancelled to or from Gatwick.
     
  10. HLE 13

    HLE 13 Established Member

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    Indeed, all station staff can do is ask the train service manager if such a service can be held to keep a connection, this is my view is especially important with the last possible service running in the required direction.

    Otherwise, it's asking for confirmation of authorisation to book alternative transportation aka taxis.
     
  11. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    If it had been the last train of the night would they have been more likely to have done that at Redhill?
     
  12. Urban Gateline

    Urban Gateline Established Member

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    We often have difficulties at Watford Junction with a 5 minute connection between a Southern arrival from Clapham Junction which connects to the last Virgin Trains service of the day to Preston. If the former is just a couple of minutes late and the VT service arrives on time it often results in people missing their last train to Warrington, Wigan and Preston.

    This is because the station has a minimum 5min connection allowance, which is often not enough and also VT will not allow the train to be held if the Southern service is running late so inevitably Southern fork out for some expensive taxi Journeys!
     
    Last edited: 19 May 2015
  13. plastictaffy

    plastictaffy Established Member

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    5 minutes to cross from down slow to down fast isn't enough?? If you don't have any legs,no, it wouldn't be, but otherwise, I fail to see the problem.

    I have never been asked to hold a train at all. What makes you think TOC's care enough about the passengers to hold trains for them??
     
  14. Shimbleshanks

    Shimbleshanks Member

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    Except the signposting at Watford Junction is very poor; I myself came close to missing a five minute connection onto a Virgin Train a while back because of it.
     
  15. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    exactly - and then the answer 9/10 times will be don't hold the connection
     
  16. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    The only thing important to management nowadays is reporting punctuality to the minute to the DfT. The paying passengers missing their last connection of the day are supremely irrelevant to them. That doesn't show up on any submitted spreadsheet.
     
  17. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    taxi invoices do though
     
  18. Urban Gateline

    Urban Gateline Established Member

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    Well when it is the full 5 minutes it is often ok, but when the Southern train is a couple of minutes late or sometimes as it does even arrive at the same time as the VT service then it becomes a 0min connection and people miss it!

    If you worked on the Abbey line you might get asked quite often to hold if a connecting service from London is late, but I agree it's not usual especially when the connection involves 2 different TOC's!
     
  19. HilversumNS

    HilversumNS Member

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    I guess that the taxi costs are for Southern to foot, so Virgin have no incentive to delay their own service.
     
  20. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    If it was less than 5 minutes for the last trains out we used to hold it off our own backs without asking if there were a few punters. If Control want to make 20 taxi bookings we'd be less bothered but of course that was left to us to do particularly if it involved 2 different TOCs so the telling off for the (small) delay was worth it for not having to make the phone call.

    The more sensible and practical guards knew this and used to give us a call rather than control if they were late with numbers.
     
  21. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    I would have happily phoned Redhill station myself to ask for the train to be held but passengers are not given such numbers.

    In this case it wasn't even the case of TOC A being late and missing TOC B's train. It was TOC B not running the service fully and not letting passengers join the service from a later train run by TOC A.

    I wonder of any other passengers put in compensation claims. There was no mention of claim forms from any member of staff I spoke to or on Twitter. I don't know what system FGW use.
     
  22. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    But all the survey show that passengers want the trains to leave on time, you cant have it both ways!

    Connections are not normally held because that would affect the rest of the passengers on the train so most of the time it is better to despatch the train on time with most of the passengers on board (and at subsequent stations) having an on time service the only people that are then affected are the ones that were on the delayed train which will all be in ne place and easier to sort out.
    Okay it isn't much help to those missing the connection but it is usually the least worse (not the best) option.
     
  23. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Established Member

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    As a daily user of Redhill, from/to Betchworth, I am acutely aware of the connection shambles that is so regular there! When I complained following yet another hourly service missed by a few seconds owing to a late arriving train from London, I received the reply below from Southern (who staff the station) - but, predictably the promise therein is never kept! My emphasis below is key here:

    I am sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the response that we have sent you regarding the above complaint. I have read through the chain of emails and I apologise for the reply that we have sent.
    We have to keep our services running as close to its scheduled timetable as possible but we should also be making sure our customers have sufficient time to catch the service they are planning to travel on, even if this particular service is running late. I apologise as this was not the case on this occasion.
    I have logged you comments onto our system for feedback purposes to help prevent this from happening again in the future.
    We thank you for taking the time to write to us and apologise for the inconvenience caused.
     
    Last edited: 19 May 2015
  24. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    If that is the case just tell passengers the connection won't be held rather than saying it will be. Gatwick to Reading isn't over subscribed with passengers at 6pm but it also isn't a few random people either. The train to Victoria was fair busy with passengers boarding it at Gatwick. That was obviously two train loads of Gatwick passengers.

    In this case though it shouldn't have been a connection as the other train was suppose to start at Gatwick Airport. It was only displayed as cancelled at Gatwick Airport at 18.00, 3 minutes before it was due to leave. Before that time the departure time was shown as 18.19.

    The 18.03 left Redhill 1.5 minutes late. So it was late leaving and it didn't wait for us. If it had waited it would have been I guess 5 minutes late leaving instead of 1.5 minutes. I've not factored in any other trains blocking it's path but equally they may get hold up to allow this service through. Bear in mind trains on the North Downs Line are often delayed for various reasons other than holding them for connecting trains.

    If it was the case of say a train to Gatwick being late and missing the Gatwick to Reading I'd understand more it not being held. It was the fact it was started short and then we were not given even time to reach it by just 2 minutes. Resulting in one person claiming they would be 2 hours late home. I don't know if they actually were as there was signalling problems in Maidenhead. However as those were just delays of up to 30 minutes uses and they would have been in Reading 50 minutes late, they may still have been.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I think that may be during peak rush hour the connection times should be lengthened.

    For example 6 minutes to get from platform 2 to 7 at Gatwick Airport is long enough in my opinion outside of peak rush hour. However the minimum connection time is 10 minutes. However 5 minutes to get from Platform 1 to 4 during peak rush hour at East Croydon isn't long enough unless both trains are delayed by the same amount of time. Here the minimum connection time is 5 minutes.

    Again the example at Watford suggests that perhaps the minimum connection time needs to be increased at certain times of the day.

    That makes thing more complicated but we have a complicated fares system so it would be possible to complicate the connection times. Whether that would have undesirable side effects I know not.
     
    Last edited: 19 May 2015
  25. PHILIPE

    PHILIPE Established Member

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    An important effect of holding trains for connections that has to be considered is the knock on effect, such as:-

    Delay to a following train
    A held train being delayed being late for return working, thus delaying other trains..

    The "knock on" effect can easy escalate and this what many TOCs are wary of.
     
  26. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    I think you have the wrong end of the journey. It's not that passengers wish to LEAVE on time as much as they want to ARRIVE on time. If only the figures reported to the DfT could capture this and measure it then there would be a sudden change of attitude.

    Also, I don't understand why so much regard is given to the passengers already on the train leaving to the second, and so little regard given to those who just miss it through fault entirely down to the railway and then have to stand waiting an hour for the next one. This gets to ridiculous extremes at places like Ascot, where the connection to Camberley etc can get sent off just as the Waterloo to Reading train is arriving several minutes late (a common event), when as Ascot itself generates little or no traffic down the branch, just about everyone is connecting; the train may be dispatched to time but completely empty. Likewise Marylebone, putting trains at the far end platform up on the board just a minute before departure, then dispatching it before everyone can even walk to it.

    There's a huge amount of late running on the system every day, generally down to internal railway issues, and this has never been got to grips with (eg London Bridge), whereas anything which makes things better for the passengers is stamped on in a moment. I'm afraid that things like Roger Ford's "Golden Whistles" is looking at completely the wrong thing, whether the train arrives on time compared to whether the passengers do.
     
  27. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    Both go hand in hand. If a train departs late then it is less likely to arrive on time. You highlight the insular nature of passenger and TOC's alike. The goal should be that trains run on time. One man's departure is anothers arrival.

    Right time railway is a massive step in that direction. I do see a change towards Right time figures than PPM.

    I'm not sure if Right time figures are public.
     
  28. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham Established Member

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    I think a few people need to read the comment by Philipe at #25 again!

    You hold a train at "A" and it can easily delay several trains further down the line, so very quickly causing hundreds of delay minutes elsewhere. I and every signaller has seen this happen!
     
  29. ADRboy

    ADRboy Member

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    This - it's not just one/two services that can be affected by holding a train, especially in a busy station, you can knock the train plan out of the water completely if it's misjudged and cause massive delays to many more people.

    I do think it should be done if it's possible though.
     
  30. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    I understand all of that but I still feel in the case of the Reading train the other night it should have been held. The alternative would have been to run it to Gatwick and allow it to leave late. Their are other train companies who do that for some services, but it seems FGW rarely if ever like doing that. They prefer to missing our Gatwick to Redhill. Which is fine if they give passengers a chance to get to Redhill. They didn't.

    The North Downs Line trains run late at times. Take the 7.43 from Guildford. That can sometimes be late enough that it gets held at Shalford Junction whilst the Waterloo service goes through. What's to say it doesn't then cause hold ups at Wokingham Junction. Other times the Waterloo service can be held due to the late running 7.43. If the latter happens it can delay the 7.59 and 8.02 departures from Woking to Waterloo. I don't see stops being cancelled for either train when this happens because they are delaying other trains on those days, which may in turn delay other trains down the line. Clearly they can't cancelled any random intermediate stop at short notice all the time but you think they might do it more often if delays to other services are such a problem.

    Note they allowed the Reading train on Monday night to depart late just not late enough. I'm sure it's late departure was due to the line ahead not being clear.

    Had the train doors been about to close just after our train arrived and someone got between them and them closing, I suspect it may have got held up as passenger(s) stopped it from safely leaving so others could board. It can't be easy being a driver or guard in such cases.

    I once saw a passenger at Woking have a rant saying not enough time was allowed for a very last minute platform change. So I could easily see passengers holding open door(s) at Redhill.
     
    Last edited: 19 May 2015
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