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How to contact the guard/when to 'pull the emergency cord'?

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feline1

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I wanted to raise a question about how passengers are meant to act when they need to summon assistance on a train.

I had a situation on a busy 10 coach commuter train where a disabled passenger in a wheel chair wanted to disembark (because a double whammy of 2 signal failures had delayed the train so much that she was going to miss her hospital appointment, so there was no point her travelling).

(She needed a ramp to get on or off - 'assisted travel' I think they call it. She'd been assisted onto the train, but as it was now 25 mins past advertised departure time and we still hadn't left yet, she now wanted to get off again, as the journey had become pointless...)

Like many of her fellow passengers, we thought we might ask the guard for assistance... but how to contact him? He was likely about 10 carriages away and the train was so full we could barely fight through 1 carriage, never mind the whole lot.

We tried calling the TOCs customer services number (!) ... but it was permanently on hold.
We tried Twitter! And the TOC's twitter staff did pass a message to 'Control' that this passenger needed assistence... but apparently Control have no direct means to contact the guard? (He has a company mobile, but that's it... and they wouldn't know the number).

So we wondered should we "pull the emergency cord" (it wasn't literally a cord) speak to the driver and ask him to call the conductor.
We chickened out of this, because we were scared we'd be told off (or fined!) because it wasn't an emergency, scared the train would be grounded and thousands of other passengers who *didn't* want to get off would lynch us...

...so basically, the train did depart, the passenger in the wheelchair was trapped inside, and conveyed against her will for nearly a further hour before the conductor finally appeared in our carriage, blissfully unaware he'd been wanted. By this time the poor disabled passenger was having a panic attack, hyperventilating, headbutting the walls and just very distressed and not doing our nerves much good either...


All this made me wonder: just what are you supposed to do as a passenger if you need to get hold of the guard on your train, from anything as mundane as buying a ticket, to non-life-threatening (but obviously pretty distressing) problem like that.
Are you allowed to push the emergency button and get hold of him via the driver? What's the rules?

It did strike me as very odd that we were trying to do it via Twitter (!) and the TOC's Control centre had no way to contact the guard.
 
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feline1

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There have been a few threads on this in the past - hopefully one or more will have the information you are looking for. Try these for a start:
When to "pull the cord"?
Opening doors using emergency release at terminus
Contacting guard in non-emergencies


Good threads, thanks.

Reading things like this with a wry chuckle "Any TM/guard who is doing their job properly will be patrolling the train on a regular basis anyway, any such 'call for aid' system would only be open to abuse."

I invariably find that on any crowded commuter train or any delayed train, the guard makes himself very scarce and certainly won't be "patrolling the train on a regular basis" - indeed, it's often hard to tell if there even is one on board.
 

theironroad

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If the guard hads a company phone then I'm a little surprised their control couldn't contact them.

On my TOC the guard periodically announces which coach of the train they are in.

In your case, as you suggest the train hadn't departed, I assume the external doors were still available, so people could have walked along platform to find guard.

As a driver I'd personally not get too upset if the cord had been pulled in the scenario you describe, but others may disagree, but let's not get too emotive with 'being conveyed against her will' stuff. However, pulling the cord because you want a ticket or other customer service assistance will only ending tears, it is for emergencies.........
 

feline1

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I think this info from one of those threads was relevent:

360's have call for aid buttons in the toilets and in the wheelchair area. They do not initiate a brake application when pressed.

The lady in the wheelchair pressed said button several times but nothing happened and no-one came. Did this mean it was defective? Or maybe they just ignored it?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
If the guard hads a company phone then I'm a little surprised their control couldn't contact them.

So was I! I even went to have a chat with the station manager about it when I finally got home that evening. He was of the view that it was nothing unusual.

In your case, as you suggest the train hadn't departed, I assume the external doors were still available, so people could have walked along platform to find guard.

When it was about 20 minutes late departing, and the lady wanted to get off, that's exactly what we did: ran down the platform to alert the dispatchers.
However 3 mins later it just departed anyways.:roll:

but let's not get too emotive with 'being conveyed against her will' stuff.

Believe me, she was extremely emotive by the time we'd been travelling for nearly an hour....:oops: hysteria reigned!
 

gimmea50anyday

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Total rubbish on twitter. Control CAN contact the guard. How on earth else would they otherwise be able to advise of altered workings etc. Theres also NRN, GSM-R, conveying a message via the next staffed station.

Should have used the passcomm. I as a guard get annoyed myself when something is amiss and no one on the train bothers to tell me about it. I would rather the passcomm was pulled for a non emergency than not pulled at all. After all in this case, this was a welfare issue. the non emergency escalated unnecessarily causing distress to the individual concerned and the people around them.

If in doubt, give us a shout. Pull it, dont regret it! Far better to make a mistake mentioning it than to ignore it.
 

theironroad

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I think this info from one of those threads was relevent:

360's have call for aid buttons in the toilets and in the wheelchair area. They do not initiate a brake application when pressed.

The lady in the wheelchair pressed said button several times but nothing happened and no-one came. Did this mean it was defective? Or maybe they just ignored it?

obviously i dont know the ins and out of this particular situation but if there were heavy delays, maybe there wasnt even a driver in the cab and the cab wasn't in service.

I cant speak for other stock, but on 450/444, the driver gets the alarm when its activated and the guard will only know when either the driver tells them or if they happen to be in their guard's office, it will come up on a display. however when the guard is walking through the train there is no indication until the driver tries to contact them.
 

185143

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Neil Williams:2460797 said:
While I know some on here don't agree, I have used the passcom in this kind of situation and was not criticised for doing so.
I too have used the passcom when needing to alight from a commuter train with a relative in a wheelchair. We hadn't booked but when we were assisted onto the train, I was told the guard would be made aware of the station we were alighting at.

I too wasn't criticised.
 

theironroad

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If in doubt, give us a shout. Pull it, dont regret it! Far better to make a mistake mentioning it than to ignore it.

let's not forget older stock still does not have brake override facility, so bringing the train to a stand in the middle of nowhere and then crew (maybe doo) having to contact signaller, secure cab and walk back to find the passcom could add serious time to getting help.

it's often quicker to find the guard (the op's original question) and get help that way, so thinking the red cord is a q&a helpline is not a good idea.

as i said above, in this situation described by the op, as the train was in the platform, i certainly wouldnt have diagreed with using the passcom.
 

feline1

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Total rubbish on twitter.

Surely not! :lol::lol::lol: It's almost as if they're just a vapid PR spin machine :lol:

If in doubt, give us a shout. Pull it, dont regret it! Far better to make a mistake mentioning it than to ignore it.

I wish I could take that advice at face value, but what if one of your colleagues to a different view and decided to fine me?:cry:
 

Bletchleyite

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I wish I could take that advice at face value, but what if one of your colleagues to a different view and decided to fine me?:cry:

It's a Byelaw issue is is not, so a Court would have to be involved?

I never heard of anyone being fined for passcom use, even when it *was* completely inappropriate.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I think this info from one of those threads was relevent:

360's have call for aid buttons in the toilets and in the wheelchair area. They do not initiate a brake application when pressed.

Interesting, as on 350s on the WCML the button in the wheelchair area is a regular passcom under a flap. If pressed in a station, the train would not depart until someone had come along with a T key and physically reset it.
 
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najaB

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It's a Byelaw issue is is not, so a Court would have to be involved?
It is indeed - Byelaw 11
11. General safety
(1) No person shall move, operate, obstruct, stop or in any other way interfere with any automatic closing door, train, or any other equipment on the railway except:
(i) in an emergency, by means of any equipment on or near which there is a notice indicating that it is intended to be used in an emergency
; or
(ii) any equipment intended for the use of passengers in that way
in normal operating circumstances.
(2) No person shall place, throw, drop or trail anything on the railway which is capable of injuring, damaging or endangering any person or any property.
(3) No person shall, without reasonable cause, activate any emergency system and/or any communications system provided on any part of the railway including a train.
 

Bletchleyite

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The problem is that the definition of what constitutes "reasonable cause"....

Indeed, but in practice a prosecution is very unlikely. I have never, ever heard of one.

Personally I would remove that byelaw. If a muppet is going to pull it for a laugh, they'll pull it anyway. And you don't want to discourage it from being pulled in a genuine situation.

I think TfL's view on it is much more grown-up - advising people on when to pull it, e.g. in a station rather than on open line.
 

gimmea50anyday

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I dont have powers to issue such penalties. I dont even know the proceedure....

I've been a tail lamp for 10 years!
 

najaB

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.....and how many people go around with a copy of the byelaws tucked away in their pocket?
Nobody does, hopefully. What's that got to do with anything?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The problem is that the definition of what constitutes "reasonable cause"....
In law I believe it needs to be 'reasonable' in the eyes of the 'man on the Clapham omnibus'.

So "I pulled it because I thought the disabled woman wasn't going to be able to get off the train." is reasonable. "I pulled it to see what would happen." is not.
 

feline1

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The problem is that many passengers encounter barrier staff or Revenue Protection Officers who are being decidedly jobsworth about some arcane point of ticketing which will seldom sound "reasonable" (perhaps more in the sense of "intuitive") to the passenger.
You'd be hard pressed to find a passenger alive who has not at some time or other been given an intransigent bollocking about something which was genuinely a misunderstanding or mistake.
So expecting passengers to be brave enough to pull an emergency cord when its (THEIR) definition of "reasonable" is a tall order. Most passengers tend to find rail staff's definition of "reasonable" at gross variance to their own.
Admittedly this tends to be on the subject of them having to pay money, not safety... but it taints both.
 

najaB

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You'd be hard pressed to find a passenger alive who has not at some time or other been given an intransigent bollocking about something which was genuinely a misunderstanding or mistake.
I'm not a commuter, but I average around 100-150 train journeys a year and haven't yet received 'an intransigent bollocking'. Guess I must be lucky.
 

mbreckers

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I travel with my friend who uses a wheelchair, one time arriving at Glasgow Central on an XC service there was no-one waiting with the ramp and the Train Manager nowhere to be seen. Had to use the Emergency (dont know its exact name) pull-thing at the door as there was obviously no way to safely get him off the train without the ramp.
 

najaB

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Had to use the Emergency (dont know its exact name) pull-thing at the door as there was obviously no way to safely get him off the train without the ramp.
Commonly called a PASSCOM (for passenger communication), and it was the right thing to do.
 

feline1

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I'm not a commuter, but I average around 100-150 train journeys a year and haven't yet received 'an intransigent bollocking'. Guess I must be lucky.

If you make that many non-commuting train journeys, then you probably are a lot more informed about the rules, and are less likely to have misunderstood them and thus received a bollocking. So yeah :)
 

najaB

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If you make that many non-commuting train journeys, then you probably are a lot more informed about the rules, and are less likely to have misunderstood them and thus received a bollocking. So yeah :)
But you said "there's hardly a passenger alive who..." which, in my opinion and experience, is not a true representation of the facts.
 

feline1

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But you said "there's hardly a passenger alive who..." which, in my opinion and experience, is not a true representation of the facts.

Well, I think "hardly a passenger alive" does not preclude a few exceptions, yourself being one of them, so I stand my statement. You are one of the hardlies :D
 

londonbridge

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Last week I was on a VTEC from Kings X to Durham. We'd just left the stop (think it was Peterboro or Newark, can't remember which) when....."Attention train crew.......passenger emergency alarm activated", and the train slowed to a halt. Turned out a passenger had missed their stop.
 

feline1

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Last week I was on a VTEC from Kings X to Durham. We'd just left the stop (think it was Peterboro or Newark, can't remember which) when....."Attention train crew.......passenger emergency alarm activated", and the train slowed to a halt. Turned out a passenger had missed their stop.

were they duly booted off the train and had to scamper back to it along the tracks? :lol::lol::lol::lol:
Some people, eh? :D
 
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