National Rail Enquires - are they serious!

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by ashworth, 4 Aug 2019.

  1. methethpropbut

    methethpropbut Member

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    It looks like the pin for "Birkenhead Port" drops on a one-way road that's only accessible via Belfast and the ferry - so in fact any driving route with Birkenhead Port as the destination must necessarily be routed that way! For even more hilarious results, try an origin of New Ferry Terminal, Birkenhead... ;)
     
  2. 800002

    800002 Member

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    Okay - so I've just gone back and taken a 2nd look. My orginial comment was about getting a 65 hour walking route pop up first.
    Clicking onto the vehicular route, I see now what other people were referring to...
     
  3. Rail Ranger

    Rail Ranger Member

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    The National Rail website is very useful for finding out about forthcoming engineering work. There is work taking place this weekend between Stockport and Altrincham/Chester which is not mentioned under "Improvement Works" on Northern's website but nationalrail.co.uk explains what is happening in detail.
     
  4. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Agreed about the training bit but that costs money, doesn't it? The whole point of sending it overseas is that it cost less money.

    I can't agree that Morchard Road to Denby Dale is at all comparable to Nottingham to Derby. I doubt the former journey, both tiny country stations, attracts more than a handful of people each year, while the latter, both major cities, exponentially more.
     
  5. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    I used to try to use NRE from time to time when I wanted to know something a bit less straightforward than a simple "what time are the trains to..." etc question that I might get fairly easily by other means. In other words, I naively assumed that NRE was staffed by experts [like people on this forum?!?] who could deal with the less standard questions that I didn't know how to answer in another way. But in fact, as others here have noted, it's the opposite. I have never, even once, got through to anyone who seemed to know anything about anything to do with the railways. Their only function is to look up things on a website, for people to use if they have access to a phone but not the internet [or can't use screens], but to do it more slowly and inaccurately than you could do it yourself if you had internet access.

    It really is a disgrace.
     
  6. pdeaves

    pdeaves Established Member

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    I like the list of warnings that pop up; "this route includes a ferry" and my favourite "This route crosses through Isle of Man" as though it's in international civil unrest hotspot or something.
     
  7. Bungle158

    Bungle158 Member

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    With regard to offshore call centres, in India at least, spoken English has diverged so far from that spoken in the UK that several English, as in Pinewood style movies, are subtitled in English for the benefit of local audiences.

    This is not lost on Indian call centre operators, who sometimes attempt to address the issue by immersing staff in (English) colloquial English culture by role play and by screening unadorned English soaps in rest areas.
     
  8. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    Unfortunately this is the nature of the call centre model. Having a single, or a handful of UK based large sites for your company's telephony services is cheaper than having locally based staff across numerous sites. From there it then becomes cheaper to outsource this work to dedicated companies, who can offer a whole range of telephony services for a whole range of industries. And from there these companies can outsource their work to call centres anywhere on the planet, to further reduce their costs and increase profits.

    I'm afraid even though the UK championed the call centre model, we eventually became the victim of it's success. National Rail & the TOCs are far from alone in this, practically every utility company I have interacted with have at one point or another utilised overseas call centres. I once had a rather amusing one with an Indian gentleman who was clearly reading off an automated script, which tried it's best (but failed) to make it sound like he was based in my local area. He even went so far as to say what a lovely day it was outside in Bradford. Unfortunately whilst various weather forecasting sites were still reporting nice weather in the area, a sudden change of wind direction had blown in some very heavy rain just around the time of my call. He sounded genuinely embarrassed when I mentioned this to him, and dropped the company fa├žade after that!

    Until such time as we (as in UK business / government) see service as more important than profit, we'll continue to converse with people around the globe with no more idea on the area they are trying to help you with than the information being fed to them via the software in front.
     
  9. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    On the subject of call centres, I once worked for a chap who in a previous job had worked for an outsourcing company. One of his jobs had been to take groups of contact centre operatives from India on guided tours of the British railway network to give an idea of the geography, which must have cost a pretty penny. Judging by the posts above, it seems they don't even make them study a network map nowadays !

    On the subject of the website, where do I begin.

    It's clunky, has difficulty loading pages on my phone, it doesn't wipe details from previous searches, often it ignores commands on my work computer, the adverts seem to use enough processing power to crask other programmes on my home computer.

    A travesty of a website, and the fact that ATOC (or whatever they are) can't seem to get a grip on it doesn't inspire confidence.
     
  10. Steve Harris

    Steve Harris Member

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    Unfortunately NRE was even like that when it first came into being (pre internet days).

    I rang up and asked a question and they didn't have a clue, so went to my local station and asked there and got a sensible answer.

    From memory it was something like a time restriction on a Travelcard on a Monday when Christmas fell on a weekend.
     
  11. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    Though years before the current system, in BR days, there used to be - in the London area anyway - enquiry phone numbers based at different main stations. And if you rang the one for the region you were going on then you got genuine experts.
     
  12. Steve Harris

    Steve Harris Member

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    indeed. I live outside London and when you rang the number in the phone book you used to get put through to the nearest big railway station. In my case that was Cambridge. However, when NRE came along you used to ring the same number and you either got told by recorded message to ring NRE or you automatically got redirected (I cant remember which now).

    So to get expert advice you had to visit a station. As NRE didn't have a clue other than the run of the mill questions.
     
  13. pdeaves

    pdeaves Established Member

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    Which are exactly the questions the majority could find the answers for elsewhere. It was the non-'run of the mill' where they should have excelled.
     
  14. Ambient Sheep

    Ambient Sheep Member

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    Poor bastards, aren't they suffering enough?!
     
  15. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    Wait till they front it with an "Alexa"-type voice recognition system, like British Gas.
    I could only get any sense out of their service centre by using the word "emergency", even if it wasn't one.

    Any call centre that has to deal in close succession with Cockney, Glaswegian, Scouse, South Yorks, Geordie and South Wales Valleys accents and vocabulary has my sympathy.
     
  16. deep south

    deep south Member

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    staff turnover, and so the related training costs are generally quite high in these call centres. There is little in the way of career advancement, and working conditions are often quite poor, so if the call centre across the road offers a very small increase in salary, the staff will simply move. It is simply another symptom of the the "lowest cost" mentality driving so much of modern business, with little regard to the medium or long term.

    so if the "standard script" isn't suitable, the staff on the end of the phone often don't have a clue. Remember many of the call centres serve multiple clients, so it is possible the previous call was on another topic entirely!
     
  17. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    Every time they redesign their interface it seems to get worse.

    Honestly I would prefer they just provide a barebones API that I can tack a simple front end onto myself.
     
  18. tankmc

    tankmc Member

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    National Rail Enquiries is a joke and I think its utterly disgusting that is is outsourced to an overseas location. How can someone based abroad have enough local knowledge and understanding of the british rail network?

    I used them once to ask about Bank Holiday services and they didn't even know what a Bank Holiday was.

    The website is terrible too. I now use the Trainline website and app for all my travel enquiries then book with a TOC if i need to.
     
    Last edited: 6 Aug 2019
  19. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    If anything's likely to destroy national prestiege, that's it. Why not some classic dramas, like "All Creatures Great and Small" for example
     
  20. Matt_pool

    Matt_pool Member

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    Funnily enough I found the NR website to be very useful on Saturday. I was getting the 19.11 from Sheffield to Manchester and was aware on the Friday that it would be going via Huddersfield and would take an extra hour, while all of the East Midlands trains had been cancelled.

    On Saturday lunchtime I caught a train from Derby to Sheffield where I was due to spend several hours before catching the 19.11. I thought it would be a good idea to go to the information desk at Sheffield and ask a human if the 19.11 was still running.

    The Yorkshire lady shrugged her shoulders and said "people have been asking the same thing all day, we don't know, things might change".

    Which basically meant she couldn't be ar$ed checking!

    So over the next few hours I kept checking the NR app on my phone which said it was still running.

    The 19.11 was a few minutes late leaving and was empty. I was expecting it to be standing room only and full of passengers who were unable to get other services.

    Well, it nearly was! The only downside of getting diverted was that on arrival at Huddersfield the train filled up with dozens of drunk people in fancy dress doing the ale trail. Luckily they got off at the next stop and the one after!

    P.S. I agree that the NR call centre in India, Bangladesh or wherever is useless, like all offshore call centres are!
     
  21. Andrew1395

    Andrew1395 Member

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    Is that true? I was told that a job in an Indian Call Centre was highly prized, with lots of benefits. As a result lots of graduates work in them. Maybe that was transitional and things have changed.
     
  22. paddington

    paddington Member

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    According to an British Indian friend, Indian call centres are great if you speak an Indian language!
     
  23. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    Depends if your aim is good customer service or cost cutting. The NRE contact centre used to be in Newcastle. It was closed to save money.

    You don't expect RDG to give a flying fig about their customers, do you?
     
  24. Matt_pool

    Matt_pool Member

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    I used to work in a call centre for Virgin Media. They made 450 of us redundant because it was cheaper to "you know what"!
     
  25. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    15 years ago, maybe, but not now. They're sweatshops now, just like contact centres everywhere else.

    Paying decent staff costs money, which is why in any industry* you'll only speak to someone intelligent if you're buying something.

    *John Lewis excepted, who since they outsourced sales to Crapita would now struggle to sell coal to a Geordie.
     
  26. Tom B

    Tom B Established Member

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    I heard that British Telecom were transferring their call centres back fully to the UK. For a while, the customer 'service' calls (150 enquiries and 191 faults) were dealt with overseas, whilst the Operator service (100, 155 and 999) were dealt with in the UK (at a few regional centres). You could therefore get a helpful and willing Operator on 100 but one who wasn't able to help you since they didn't have access to the same customer systems. And if speaking to them, you could get cut off and put back in the queue mid-speech - if a 999 call came through and there were no free operators, a 100 call would get sacrificed. Unusually, some 999 services still rely on a manual transfer (in that they will put you through to the fire brigade operator and state "This is XXX exchange connecting caller on Doncaster 123356), but I believe that more and more are automatic.
     
  27. Statto

    Statto Established Member

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    The search is a joke at times, i've typed in a query day return Chester to Machynlleth, one of the tickets it's suggesting as the cheapest, is the North West Round Robin, not valid anywhere near Chester, in fact the boundary for that ticket is Preston-Carlisle-Leeds
    https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/documents/promotions/North_West_Round_Robin.pdf


    Also irritating when you adjust the departure time for your outward journey, it resets the departure time for your return journey.
     
    Last edited: 7 Aug 2019
  28. Comstock

    Comstock Member

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    Ironically the main call centre for National Rail Enquiries was once *in* Derby.

    I'm not claiming it offered perfect service, but you had to pass a basic UK geography test to even get onto the training.
     
  29. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    I once worked in a call centre in Derby where some of the NRE staff had ended up when made redundant. They had all been proud of the service they offered and were pretty gutted to have been gotten rid of.
     
  30. al78

    al78 Established Member

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    What national prestige?
     

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