More GWR data errors

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by yorkie, 14 Nov 2019.

  1. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    Firstly, before I post my views on this matter, here are some examples of people reporting this problem:
    https://twitter.com/Rochdale_Cowboy/status/1194150542701932544
    https://twitter.com/charlie5tevens/status/1194165346481127425
    https://twitter.com/arb_1965/status/1193857243810283525
    https://twitter.com/Fuzzlette/status/1193799545639112704
    This recent occurrence is just one out of many. On a regular basis, the restriction data associated with many restriction codes set by GWR are altered to allow travel on trains the company does not intend to be valid in conjunction with tickets that correspond to the relevant restriction code.

    This is normally of no real problem; after all under contract and consumer law, tickets remain valid, and in theory TOC staff are all trained to adhere to relevant laws.

    Furthermore National Rail Enquiries (NRE) states:
    And, helpfully and quite rightly, the Twitter staff have confirmed the tickets "will be honoured".

    So, not a problem, right?

    Unfortunately no, there is a problem: several GWR staff at stations such as London Paddington do not comply with relevant laws and instead ask passengers to purchase an excess fare in order to travel as per the original contract. Clearly this is not lawful. Just one recent example (out of many) can be found in the following thread:
    https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/off-peak-ticket-validity-heyford-to-paddington.194346/

    This is not a new phenomenon but there does appear to be a lot of reported cases recently, so I thought it was worth highlighting the issue again.
     
    Last edited: 14 Nov 2019
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  3. Hadders

    Hadders Fares Advisor

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    GWR need to get a grip here:

    Firstly they should make sure the data is correct so the error doesn’t happen in the first place.

    Secondly, GWR must ensure their front line staff (barrier staff and anyone involved in checking tickets) is aware of GWR’s legal obligations in respect of ticket acceptance.

    We have had far too many examples of GWR staff making up their own rules. We even had a case a few years back of GWR staff calling the police claiming a passenger, who happened to be a forum member, (with a perfectly valid ticket but one they didn’t think should be valid) was carrying a gun.

    The majority of GWR staff are excellent but sadly a minority give the company a poor reputation.
     
  4. CyrusWuff

    CyrusWuff Established Member

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    I'd be happy if their gateline staff were at least trained on the basics, and told where to find details of ticket validity.

    Recent example: According to staff at Paddington, a ticket from Stourbridge Town to Windsor and Eton Central routed via High Wycombe and Birmingham (complete with Maltese Cross) isn't valid from Paddington.

    Given Bourne End - High Wycombe closed in 1971, I'd like to know what route they think the customer involved should have taken!
     
  5. Hadders

    Hadders Fares Advisor

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    Blimey! Words fail me. The incompetence is breathtaking.
     
  6. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    Also see https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/undercharged-for-peak-train.169142/ for a previous thread on this subject from Summer 2018. As you can see from that thread, Mark Hopwood was made aware of the scale of the problems but he is clearly not able to get a grip on how his staff behave.

    Long established members may recall the regular battles that occurred at Paddington between GWR gateline staff and @bignosemac .

    The worst behaviour I witnessed at Paddington was about 10 years ago when they falsely claimed someone had a gun. I GWR staff in the Thames Valley area have also been caught denying people their contractual rights to break their journeys. Staff at Slough once wrote on my York to Weymouth ticket that it was no longer valid because - according to them - I should have taken the 2335 (or whatever it was) from Waterloo. However as they wrote it on the back of the ticket, it caused no issues when I did resume my journey.

    I can't see anyone from GWR actually resolving this issue; it's a deep rooted cultural issue that goes back many years and - I predict - will continue for years to come.

    If it was in any other industry, I would be confident that the relevant staff would be dealt with appropriately and that the culture would be changed. But as it's the rail industry, the opposite is the case: I fully expect the status quo to remain, and for GWR to continue to commit multiple contractual breaches on a daily basis; the number of cases I am aware of is huge, and this can only be the absolute tip of the iceberg.

    All we can do is spread the word; we are powerless to actually get the company to act, and there isn't any organisation that has both the power and inclination to impose any sort of sanction that may persuade them to change their ways.

    Oh well!
     
  7. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    If a member of staff makes a mistake with the validity of the ticket, the TOC will generally deem it to be a complex matter. This means it will be dismissed as a freak incident and nothing will be done to rectify the matter.

    On the front line, a significant proportion of staff are never taught about the existence or concept of restriction codes. Staff are taught the same simplified version of restrictions that are advertised to the general public. The idea that a ticket from a different station might have a different restriction on it that needs to be checked is very complex and not one everyone is trained on. Even if the railways wanted to fix things like this, it's near on impossible because many staff don't actually know how to check what the restriction on a specific ticket is. Undertaking this type of research, whether that be looking up a code or checking National Rail Enquiries is a specialist skill on the railways. Those who know how to should help their colleagues out.

    Briefing staff isn't simple either. The nature of shift working, general purpose relief and high turnover jobs means it's difficult to communicate messages to everyone that needs to receive them. Managers don't have the time to sit down and explain ticket restrictions to all of their staff. Assuming written briefs do reach all relevant staff, there's no guarantee they will be written in a way that is plain and simple for the intended audience to digest. Sometimes retail briefs get put down after a few sentences of reading because there is often reams of technical detail which only makes sense to people who already have an expert knowledge on the subject.

    In other words, it's a waste of time to expend the effort of worrying about things like this. It's worth considering whether it's worthwhile to take on a problem that's much bigger than what it seems to be on the surface if you haven't been directly affected by it.

    There are ways to force a TOC to take action. They involve either costing the TOC a noticeable sum or money or ruffling the feathers of people that have other things to be dealing with.
     
    Last edited: 15 Nov 2019
  8. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    That may be true for a passenger on a walk-up fare without an itinerary.

    But honouring the booked train is a simple matter; but when a passenger turns up with an itinerary (or even a reservation for a particular train), platform staff at places like Paddington are telling them their contract will not be honoured and that it is the fault of the retailer.

    I would be shocked if I was refused access to a plane or a coach on that basis, but I am not shocked to hear someone has been refused travel on their booked train - even after showing that it is their booked train - at stations like Paddington.

    Even if we got all their staff to honour itineraries, without touching the other issues, we would at least have some progress!
     
  9. Wolfie

    Wolfie Established Member

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    There is only one way to deal with such systematic breathtaking incompetence. That is to take legal action against GWR every single time such an incident occurs, ensuring that your MP (mine is Jeremy Corbyn and he LOVES TOCs!) and the media are fully in the loop. If it gets unpleasant and expensive the overpaid useless management might actually get off their overpadded posteriors abd actually earn their wages!
    You may gather that l have had enough of the rubbish and the apologists!
     
  10. v199629

    v199629 Member

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    Does GWR use agency staff at Paddington gateline like SWR do?
     
  11. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    Not that I know of
     
  12. MarlowDonkey

    MarlowDonkey Member

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    There is actually a route, if a slow one.

    That would be to get a Chiltern service to South or West Ruislip, a Central Line service to Greenford, GWR down the Greenford branch to West Ealing, Heathrow Connect to Hayes and then GWR again to Slough and then Windsor.
     
  13. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    Sadly that is invalid. Neither South/West Ruislip nor Greenford are on the list of stations where the maltese cross is valid.

    [Pedant mode]Heathrow Connect is now TfL Rail[/Pedant mode]
     
  14. keefc

    keefc Member

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    I was the OP on one of the threads linked...Heyford to Paddington.

    So I am on the 18.14 Paddington to Didcot. The return leg off an off-peak ticket I bought last night using the GWR app. The conductor has announced over the tannoy that this is a completely restricted train. But I have a contract of course.

    The odd thing is that the O7 restriction does (to my reading) say that off-peak tickets are not valid. But the app sold me one.

    And the Trainline app will not let me buy an off peak ticket! So is presumably coded correctly.

    I know far more about the intricacies of rail fares than I ever thought i would. What a mess!
     
  15. keefc

    keefc Member

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    Should say I am changing at Didcot for Heyford...
     
  16. cactustwirly

    cactustwirly Established Member

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    Of course that announcement is incorrect as it ignores the Network area rule.
    There are no restrictions on legs wholly in the Network area (ie Paddington to Didcot) if the ticket originates outside the area, such as Leicester for example
     
  17. 4COR

    4COR Member

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    It appears that though a lot of GWR off peak tickets are restricted in some way in the evening, but, errors with the GWR booking engine aside, there are lots of off-peaks down the Thames Valley routes that have no evening restrictions that apply to GWR trains from Paddington, even fares that are for journeys wholly inside the Network area!

    So, quite wrong!
     
    Last edited: 21 Nov 2019

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