How would you solve LM's problems?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by IanPooleTrains, 13 Nov 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. IanPooleTrains

    IanPooleTrains Established Member

    Messages:
    1,216
    Joined:
    21 Nov 2010
    Location:
    Brereton, Rugeley, Staffordshire
    Right then, let's start again!

    AFAIAC, there are three major problems within the LM network:

    1) The minimal ticket checking and revenue collecting that is done
    2) Their communication system
    3) The staff making the rules up as they go along.

    So, what are the problems and how can we sort them out to turn them around

    Let's start with the ticket checking and revenue collecting.

    Now yes, while I go on and on about how The Chase Line, which we all know it is possibly London Midland's poorest relationship route, it does happen on other parts of their network as well. Just because a guard is doing more as far as safety is concerned, it still is not right that they should 'shirk' their other responsibilities as a guard.

    So how do we combat this?

    Well, one possible solution is to add more revenue inspectors to their trains, this is a system that does happen during the early morning peak rush between Rugeley TV and Walsall and I have seen East Midlands Trains doing this as well from time to time but there is a downfall to this and that is that this will cost too much money and the manpower could be used on other parts of the network so that is not feasible.

    Another solution would be to have someone independant from the TOC go through the train and go 'data collecting', checking how many people are on the train, how many people get off, how many get on and whether they have a ticket or not and then produce these results to the TOC in question to compare. However, this is not a viable question because there would possibly not be the time or the resources available for this to happen.

    I am not saying it is the majority who do get on the train with a valid ticket to travel, it is the minority that see fit to get on the train without a travel and then get off the train without paying. This isn't a problem at the 'bigger' stations because there are either ticket barriers or there are staff at the gates to stop them and then send them to a place where they can get a ticket. So maybe the solution to stop this is either instal ticket barriers at all stations or have a man at the entrance/exit of a station with a ticket machine to deter people. The latter seems to be a ploy that Northern Rail apply to their staffed stations (I have only seen this happen at Cheadle Hulme so it might not happen at all stations) but could it be a resource that LM could apply? IMO, no. The simple fact is that they might not have the manpower to do this and again, money comes into the factor as well

    So unfortunately, this seems to be a solution that is never going to be resolved because the solutions are being outweighed by the starting factors. To impliment these, you would need the money to do so but you cannot get the money because it simply isn't being collected to do so

    Now, onto their communications system and IMO, their poorest part of that seems to be the problem of relaying information to their passengers. Now, it is all very well and good relaying information via twitter or youbook or facetube but what about those those that either don't or cannot access the internet? What about those that are stuck at the station? London Midland seem to have invested a lot of money into new machines where you can speak to someone on the other end of the line but these have downfalls. For a start, these people on the other end of LM ones say that they work for London Midland whereas others around the company say National Rail Enquiries when they answer, a quick call to LM confirmed that these staff don't work for LM. They also give out the wrong information, IIRC, I remember at least two situations within the last year whereby I have used LM ones and they have given wrong information time after time after time and then I find out off of someone else, that I have been lied to or given the incorrect information and that includes when these new machines have been installed. Sometimes the lines on them are so bad that you might not hear any information and they just hang up on you so this seems to have been a very bad investment for LM.

    Another problem seems to be communicating problems with timetable information or throughout the network

    For example, let's take what happened on the 28th of October with myself and my brother. We were down at Watford Junction and the announcement comes over 'the train approaching blah blah blah is the 16:00 service to Crewe and Birmingham NS calling at blah blah blah, this train is formed of eight coaches'. It comes in and the HB says Birm'ham and only turns up as four coaches. Some people ask is this the train to Crewe, the guard says yes. Some ask is this the train to Birmingham, the guard says yes. Everyone piles on and then as the train is leaving, he gets on the tannoy and says that the train was for Birmingham New Street only calling at blah blah blah, any passengers travelling to Crewe, you need to get off at Northampton and ask the staff there. We get off at Northampton and the platform staff do not know either and it is only after everyone checks the boards, we find it is on P4/5 (can't remember which one) with no explanation offered as to why the train was there and not with it's tag team partner. A quick e-mail to LM itself and even they cannot answer it (I cannot remember the full details of the reply back but it basically said that they could not give a reason why this happened).

    Now you would have thought, being one of the top four TOCs in the England, with EC, VT and XC, they would have a reasonable communcations system so how do you combat this?

    Another solution would possibly be to change the automated announcement to manual announcements on the station that give, if it is possible, real-time updates as to what is happening. This sounds reasonable but the factors to go against it would be resources and, the all important one, money. LM seem to have invested a lot of money on their stations with the installing of these computer announcements that to switch them back to the manual option, that would respresent a catastrophic loss. Most of the time though, some of their boards don't even work. I use, as an example again, the boards at Rugeley Town have been installed now for about a year and most of that time, they are just standing there saying 'there is an error with this board, please call......' ands that is a situation repeated down to Walsall, mainly at Hednesford, Cannock and Landywood.

    So this is a situation that is not going to be able to resolve itself

    Now we come onto the final point I wish to make, their guards 'making up the rules' as they go along and the main problem that we have with this is the fact that their trains leave early from stations.

    Now, at staffed stations, this doesn't seem to be that bad a problem because the despatcher either holds their hands up/shine a light/wave a flag/A.N. Other at the 30/40 seconds before departure, the doors will close in their usual 'slow way' and then the despatcher will repeat and then the guard will close their door and the train leaves about 5 seconds before departure time so that we can slightly forgive. It is at unstaffed stations that we have problems because guards will leave anything from 30 seconds to up to 2 minutes early, and that is after the procedure has been completed and an announcement has gone out roughly three minutes before the departure time to say what time the train leaves. So how do you combat this problem?

    Well, the simplest of the solutions is to stick a member of staff at the unstaffed stations to deter this from happening, a solution that works at staffed stations but, however, this is not going to happen because of resources, manpower and the cost factor again.

    There is though, a much simpler solution which can deter this from happening and this is a solution which can be implimented, it is a solution that is not going to cost any more money and will work in stopping this from happening; the security cameras

    These cameras are for the police but, IIRC, they are streamed through to the TOCs as well, at head office I think, because it aides prosectution in criminal activity so surely, they could use it to check on the times that their guards depart trains, they could put the timing against their timetables and if they leave early, face disciplinary action. That way, IMO, that could deter one of the three problems.

    So now, I ask you all in a calm and conserted way, I have brought forward the problems and possible solutions in detail, how would you solve it?
     
  2. Registered users do not see these banners - join or log in today!

    Rail Forums

     
  3. MidnightFlyer

    MidnightFlyer Veteran Member

    Messages:
    12,733
    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    From my experiences, the only revenue I would be able to trip them up on would be the Abbey Line, where it is quite poor. Other than that, I think they do better than many other TOCs for revenue protection!
     
  4. OxtedL

    OxtedL Established Member Quizmaster

    Messages:
    2,255
    Joined:
    23 Mar 2011
    Their communication system can also be no worse than the TOCs down in my part of the world.

    See any FCC thread.
     
  5. IanPooleTrains

    IanPooleTrains Established Member

    Messages:
    1,216
    Joined:
    21 Nov 2010
    Location:
    Brereton, Rugeley, Staffordshire
    Ah, now I can actually stick up for the Abbey line here because me and Simon went for a Dusty Bash last month and they have got a guy that stands at both ends of the line, not the same person, but someone there to issue out tickets and check them before you arrived/left

    I will agree that they do better than some but, IMO, they could do better
     
  6. Robinson

    Robinson Member

    Messages:
    624
    Joined:
    1 Aug 2010
    Location:
    Helensburgh
    I think we can all agree that it's impossible for a guard to necessarily check every single ticket on a train, especially when he/she has to return to the doors at every station (and I don't even work on the railway). Combine the ticket checks with platform barriers, and they're doing rather well on that score!

    My overall travelling experience with LM has been a pretty positive one (and I've probably used them more often than most other TOCs leaving aside SWT, ScotRail and Virgin whom I use on a more regular basis); I've certainly never had any problems with their staff or trains, and usually when things do go wrong it's not the TOC's fault.
     
  7. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

    Messages:
    14,591
    Joined:
    16 Dec 2008
    Location:
    Sheffield
    The franchise has some problems.

    • Most services having to deal with the bottleneck of New Street
    • Playing "second fiddle" to longer distance TOCs
    • Inheriting two differently run bits of previous TOCs, with the complications that that brings (different terms/ conditions, Unions wanting LM to "level up" etc)
    • 170s aren't long enough, so get coupled to 153s, which means you can't walk through the train - so either pay for two Guards, or leave one "unmanned"

    I don't think most people would put "the staff make the rules up as they go along" on their list of "major problems".
     
  8. WillPS

    WillPS Established Member

    Messages:
    2,320
    Joined:
    18 Nov 2008
    Location:
    Sheffield
    I prefer your list.

    New Street is out of their control, as is the second fiddle problem.

    Harmonisation is a problem, but Northern will have completed 10 years servicing the problem rather than dealing with it so I guess there's no reason for it to be a biggy.

    The solution to the Turbostar issue is to get the 172s ordered as a follow up - I'm guessing a 172 centre car should work in the middle of a 170 set right? How long do LM have to make this happen?
     
  9. IanPooleTrains

    IanPooleTrains Established Member

    Messages:
    1,216
    Joined:
    21 Nov 2010
    Location:
    Brereton, Rugeley, Staffordshire
    This can be a very big problem, agreed, it can only take one train from either VT, XC, ATW or even another LM service to either arrive/depart late and it could throw in a huge backlog

    Well, you say that but LM services run on the WCML with the headcode of 1xxx and IIRC, and please feel free to correct me if I am wrong, the 1 denotes an express train

    I do know that Cross City, Chase and Abbey lines run with the 2xxx headcode so, it is only right that express trains take priority over them but what about these competing express trains.

    Why, I ask with due respect, should one express train take priory over another express?

    I believe it was Central and Silverlink IIAC but the problem doesn't seem to be with the Central side, as much, the problem lies more, especially with the Euston expresses, with the Silverlink side

    But it is only going to take one side for the whole situation to go belly-up so to speak

    Agreed, a two car 170, believe it or not, has fewer seats than two 153s bolted together, 131 compared to roughly 150, and certainly up to Walsall, there are two guards from RGL, sometimes even three! But then the other two leave the train at Walsall and off the train goes with one guard to BHM and then comes back down to RGL with only one guard
     
  10. newtownmgr

    newtownmgr Member

    Messages:
    92
    Joined:
    2 Jan 2011
    Harmonisation achieved earlier this year at LM.

    172 Middle car's will not work with 170's as they have different transmission's

    Yes, you can run a 170 with a 172 but you can't insert vehicle's from different types.
     
  11. IanPooleTrains

    IanPooleTrains Established Member

    Messages:
    1,216
    Joined:
    21 Nov 2010
    Location:
    Brereton, Rugeley, Staffordshire
    I don't think that the 172 coach would be compatable but I am sure someone will correct if I am, and usually am, wrong
     
  12. Mike395

    Mike395 Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    2,133
    Joined:
    23 May 2009
    Location:
    Bedford
    Much better way of approaching the issue IPT :D

    It's looking like this is going to be a lot more constructive than the last thread, but just to warn people, if it DOES go down that track, this thread too will be locked :)

    As you were :P
     
  13. WillPS

    WillPS Established Member

    Messages:
    2,320
    Joined:
    18 Nov 2008
    Location:
    Sheffield
    Order 3 car 172s and cascade some/all 2 car 170s?
     
  14. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,352
    Joined:
    16 Nov 2009
    Location:
    Redcar
    It might do but it would be a maintenance nightmare. You have different engines, different transmissions (hydraulic vs mechanical) and different bogies (which also means different exhaust layouts). I would guess that electrical they would be compatible but there are a number of very significant differences between the two that would preclude putting a 172 MSO into a 170 DMLSO-DMSO formation.
     
  15. IanPooleTrains

    IanPooleTrains Established Member

    Messages:
    1,216
    Joined:
    21 Nov 2010
    Location:
    Brereton, Rugeley, Staffordshire
    OOI, we know a 153 and a 170/s will work together and they are talking about working a 170/6 with a 153 on the Snow Hill lines helping out the 172s but could you couple a 172 to a 153?
     
  16. Ibex

    Ibex Member

    Messages:
    638
    Joined:
    23 Jan 2010
    The Abbey line revenue is very hit and miss. The guards don't take revenue as there are no local door controls on the 321's. There can be two RPI's on the train, one for the rear two coaches, one for the front two coaches. There is nobody dedicated to stand at either end checking tickets so it's highly likely the different person you saw at the other end was simply the RPI who was working the other half of the train.
     
  17. IanPooleTrains

    IanPooleTrains Established Member

    Messages:
    1,216
    Joined:
    21 Nov 2010
    Location:
    Brereton, Rugeley, Staffordshire
    Sorry, forget to add, the one at Watford stayed at Watford to go and have his break and it was a different gentlemen at St. Albans but, like you said, he could have been an RPI that was on the train
     
  18. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

    Messages:
    10,928
    Joined:
    30 Dec 2008
    Location:
    Milton Keynes
    Because it is in Virgin's and London Midland's respective franchise agreements that that is so.

    For the railway as a whole, the priority naturally lies with getting people who are further away from their destination home first. This minimises taxi and accommodation costs. And quite right too. The railway would rather bung four people in a taxi to Tring costing 90 quid than put one person up in a hotel for 110 quid because that person needed to be in Preston, and no further connections are available.
     
  19. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

    Messages:
    14,591
    Joined:
    16 Dec 2008
    Location:
    Sheffield
    There's a number of problems.

    Partly with the planning of services - LM have to share the tracks with Virgin etc, so have to fit around the express paths. So whilst some stations between Coventry and Wolverhampton deserve a better service, there isn't the scope for LM to stop there due to all the other traffic.

    This then means some frequencies become "lop sided", e.g. Hampton-in-Arden gets 2/hour from New Street, but at XX.13 and XX.33, because they have to fit their frequencies around the 390s. Or the badly co-ordinated service (with ATW) to Shrewsbury (because the scarce paths through Wolves mean they can't space services the way they want them)

    Plus there's the issue of having to use the "slow" lines on the WCML which constricts things.

    On the other hand you have TOCs like C2C/ NXEA/ FGW/ ScotRail/ Chiltern who are the main operator on most of their territory, so have a better chance of getting the timetable they want.
     
  20. IanPooleTrains

    IanPooleTrains Established Member

    Messages:
    1,216
    Joined:
    21 Nov 2010
    Location:
    Brereton, Rugeley, Staffordshire
    Ah, I didn't actually know that

    I actually thought the clue was in the headcodes because VTs down to London from either the direction of Crewe or Birmingham were 1Axx or 1Bxx respectively whereas LM are 1Uxx and 1Yxx while it is 1Nxx from Northampton

    Yes, this is true as well, I am sure that my brother will recall this better than I will be he was coming back from up north, WarringtonI believe, and he got to Stafford off of the Lime Street train and the last train home was cancelled. The staff there, all VT staff, were trying to contact LM and get everything sorted out and they told passengers for stations past and including Rugby that they would accept LM tickets on VT but for everywhere else before that, there would be no replacement travel, they had to make their own way back home

    Lucky for him, he has his bus ticket on him :lol:
     
  21. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

    Messages:
    14,591
    Joined:
    16 Dec 2008
    Location:
    Sheffield
    Gets my vote.

    23x 172s (all three car) to LM replacing 23x 170s (mixture of 2/3) plus a dozen 153s.

    The 153s and 170s would be very welcomed elsewhere (even if it meant sending some 170s to ScotRail to release 156/158s to other TOCs).

    That'd then mean keeping a handful of 150s for Coventry - Nuneaton and the Bedford - Bletchley line (due to lack of 153s).

    I wouldn't mind LM getting more new DMUs (despite their 170s/172s being significantly younger than any Northern stock post December 2011) if it meant cascading similar units to Northern/ FGW/ ATW/ EMT etc.
     
  22. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,352
    Joined:
    16 Nov 2009
    Location:
    Redcar
    As far as I'm aware the 172s have been designed to operate in multiple with the same range of rolling stock as the 170s.
     
  23. IanPooleTrains

    IanPooleTrains Established Member

    Messages:
    1,216
    Joined:
    21 Nov 2010
    Location:
    Brereton, Rugeley, Staffordshire
    We are expected to get the 172s on the RGL line but that isn't going to be for a number of years

    Anyway, can I ask that we are veering slightly off topic and we get back to the topic in hand please? :)
     
  24. WillPS

    WillPS Established Member

    Messages:
    2,320
    Joined:
    18 Nov 2008
    Location:
    Sheffield
    What? So the topic is entirely about how to solve what you think are LM's problems?
     
  25. IanPooleTrains

    IanPooleTrains Established Member

    Messages:
    1,216
    Joined:
    21 Nov 2010
    Location:
    Brereton, Rugeley, Staffordshire
    Yes, I have put what I believe are LM's problems, someone else has done the same, AlterEgo or tbtc, so I am inviting others to, in a calm and constructive manner to either add or disagree with anything mentioned
     
  26. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

    Messages:
    4,310
    Joined:
    6 Sep 2011
    Location:
    Herts
    Maybe you should apply for a job with them , and put your comments into action.
     
  27. newtownmgr

    newtownmgr Member

    Messages:
    92
    Joined:
    2 Jan 2011
    172's not allowed to work with 150/2 & 153's i believe due to end doors being of different heights/shape etc.
     
  28. Greeby

    Greeby Member

    Messages:
    189
    Joined:
    15 Apr 2011
    Anyone who knows London Midland knows that won't happen. On-station train cleaners have gone, catering has gone. The booking office vacancies are piling up to the point that pretty soon there will be stations not on the closure list that won't have any staff on the actual roster. Don't know the details, but wouldn't be surprised if the same was happening to Revenue.

    Best I can see, no genuine solutions have a chance while that office is in charge
     
  29. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

    Messages:
    6,645
    Joined:
    23 Feb 2010
    Location:
    Richmond, London
    With regard to the problem of fare evasion:-

    If self service ticket machines can be installed on the Matlock branch, I'm sure they could be fitted on your local line too Ian and I've no doubt that this would help with revenue collection. If passengers boarded the train ticket without a ticket they would face a penalty fare and a lesson would be learnt.

    I would be interested to know how many LM stations in the West Midlands are fitted with ticket barriers. I've always failed to understand why some forum users don't like them as I've never once had a valid ticket rejected which is generally the main complaint.
     
  30. IanPooleTrains

    IanPooleTrains Established Member

    Messages:
    1,216
    Joined:
    21 Nov 2010
    Location:
    Brereton, Rugeley, Staffordshire
    They are in the process of fitting the machines

    As far as barriers go, I don't think that many LM stations in the West Mids have them, Snow Hill does and New Street doesn't have barriers per se but they do have people at the barriers but that is probably about it
     
  31. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

    Messages:
    10,928
    Joined:
    30 Dec 2008
    Location:
    Milton Keynes
    Very good point. Not even Coventry, Birmingham Intl, or Wolverhampton (Virgin-run stations) have barriers. Virgin on the whole are not keen on barriers.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page