Northern Hosts ? Overload or just right ?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by badger1badger, 31 May 2015.

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  1. badger1badger

    badger1badger Member

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    Leeds station and maybe others now have hosts.

    Northern has taking the strange decision to take ticket office staff out of the ticket office and put them on the concourse " helping passengers "

    This means a window / desk is closed - you can not buy a ticket from a host ......

    Is this the best use of Northern employees ? Let's think of information points at Leeds - down by platform 2 a ticket office, further up a network rail information point. Near the barrier is a VTEC info point,on the bridge is another northern rail information point. Plus various other staff walking about the station - TOC staff, network rail staff, security, police .....

    What do others think ?
     
  2. Chew Chew

    Chew Chew Member

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    Does it cause long delays in trying to buy a ticket?
     
  3. badger1badger

    badger1badger Member

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    There are always queues - so why take a ticket seller away and put them on a job where it is not necessary - take a trip to Leeds and just watch how busy the hosts are ........ NOT !!!!!
     
  4. Pinza-C55

    Pinza-C55 Member

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    Are they on a lower rate of pay if they are not in the ticket office ? It sounds like a move to push passengers into using self service ticket machines in the same way Sainsburys dragoon you into using their self service checkouts.
     
  5. Matt Taylor

    Matt Taylor Established Member

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    I don't like this, it sounds like the sort of job that might eventually become permanent and staffed by agency staff or TOC employees on a lower wage than ticket office staff. Encourage people to use TVMs instead of the ticket office, claim lower ticket office sales and make ticket office staff redundant.
     
  6. badger1badger

    badger1badger Member

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    No it is the same pay rate
     
  7. TEW

    TEW Established Member

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    Having somebody helping passengers with the TVMs can be very useful, and can help cut the ticket office queues. However if it's a choice between another ticket office window being opened and a member of staff helping passengers on machines, in my opinion the extra window should always be opened.
     
  8. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    Companies are actively trying to manage people out of using ticket offices is basically the answer. Plenty of them down the Midland Mainline have been 'refurbished', all with less windows and queues out the door at busy times. More TVMs appear and the cycle continues - staff get put into 'floorwalker' roles to demonstrate TVM usage to people in the queue. It's crap.
     
  9. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    I've never understood how replacing a ticket office with a machine can help reduce queues. Having the transaction undertaken by an experienced ticket seller should never be slower than using a machine for a regular user, and should be faster for occasional users.

    The only exception could be if you get a ticket seller who doesn't know what they are doing and you are a regular user who can work the self-service machine quickly. Unfortunately this isn't entirely uncommon, such with the privatised railway it does seem to be becoming more common that sometimes simple ticket-office transactions can be like getting blood out a stone.

    "PRIV return to East Grinstead".
    "Where?"
    "East Grinstead".
    "Can you spell that"
    "E A S T G R I N S T E A D"
    "Aaah, East Kilbride?"
    "No, East Grinstead"
    "Oh, can you spell that again".
    .....

    (from King's Cross recently).

    So, the best situation is windows *and* machines. Regular users use the machines, those unfamiliar use the window. Quickest best service for everyone.

    London Underground is now going down this road of replacing windows with machines - not always increasing the number of facilities available - and I'm not convinced it has worked well at all. At empty times you get eyeballed entering the station by staff standing around in the booking hall doing nothing. Whilst at busy times you have a load of people crowding round the machines and still no guarantee that anyone will be free to assist someone when required, then that person may end up holding up the queue, delaying those who know what ticket they need and how to work the machine.

    I don't see what was wrong with having staff in the ticket office. You know where to find staff, you get an orderly queue, and upon being served you have the ticket seller's undivided attention. Heaven forbid, when not required the staff can relax and read the paper, not have to stand in the middle of the booking hall doing nothing. It's actually more efficient as staff can relax or go to the toilet when there's no one at the window, rather than having to take breaks.
     
    Last edited: 31 May 2015
  10. Ianigsy

    Ianigsy Member

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    I've had to change travel plans before now because of queues for walk-up tickets at Leeds. It would help if Northern actually made sure that all their ticket machines are working properly and can accept cash and cards- I don't know how often they empty and refill their cash compartments but my experience was at about 11am on a Saturday, which suggests that they only do it in the week.
     
  11. martynbristow

    martynbristow Member

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    Some wisdom

    "Give a guy a fish, feed him for a day
    Teach a guy to fish, feed him got life"

    I think the TOCs want to move us to more self service travel, helping those that need help.
    I don't have a problem with this.

    You can still buy your ticket in advance, online or at a small station.
     
  12. Adam0984

    Adam0984 Member

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    Is it 1 less person or one more person brought in on top of the usual quota of ticket office staff. Also it's not always someone from the ticket office today when I walked past it was on of the passenger assistance porters, week before last one day they had the roster clerk for the ticket office/porters/dispatchers doing it
     
  13. tsr

    tsr Established Member

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    Some ticket office staff will also leave their desk in order to go onto the concourse and assist customers struggling at TVMs if they can't get their attention. If there is no ticket office queue (or someone else who is able to serve everyone in the queue) I see nothing wrong with that. Not that I'm saying this has happened in this case.
     
  14. jwos

    jwos Member

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    They are all ticket office and travel centre staff - it's a turn in their link. You've got to be joking if you think Northern introduced extra posts for this - 2 turns were taken out of the ticket office roster to pay for it.

    You'll have seen staff from elsewhere coving the posts due to the usual staff shortages through the company failing to fill vacancies.
     
  15. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    Only works if the guy is intelligent enough to be taught how to fish. Given how plenty of passengers struggle with basic tasks like getting on and off trains without something bad happening, I suspect expecting them to use a TVM or understand the complexities of the ticketing system are beyond some people.
     
  16. WestCoast

    WestCoast Established Member

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    My issue with less ticket office staff is that many TVMs are simply incapable of anything but a simple single/return ticket from the home station or picking up a ticket pre-booked online.
     
    Last edited: 31 May 2015
  17. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    But equally that is the vast majority of ticket needs. One person, return to X. So if you can get those people to stop using the ticket office, the queue can be reduced for those who do need to use it.
     
  18. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    I've lost count of the amount of times TOCs & BR before them came up with some daft 'welcome host' idea only for it to fizzle out a few months later. Seems to happen now just as theyre getting into the final throws of a franchise. For goodness sake if it was my business thats all very well but the most important thing to do is to get the money from the customer in the most expediant way then worry about all the flannel.
     
  19. badger1badger

    badger1badger Member

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    No they are taking staff from TO or TC to do a useless role

    I never said they had extra roles - read the post again ,, lol
     
  20. TEW

    TEW Established Member

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    Taking someone out of the ticket office to help people with machines won't reduce the queues. But an extra member of staff helping people with the machines can. If they can help those who are unfamiliar with the machines, but can purchase the tickets they require from them it can help cut the queue for those who need to use the ticket office. If all ticket office windows are open, or there are no more members of ticket office staff available, an extra member of staff helping passengers with the machines is useful.
     
  21. jwos

    jwos Member

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    No you didn't. Adam 0984 asked the question though...

    In a year or two Northern or its successor will decide they don't need the customer hosts any more and the roles will disappear. They'll never get the lost BO window shifts back.

    They will however decide to use STM's finest to 'assist' when Network Rail get on their backs about the thoroughfare between the north and South concourses being blocked by all the folks in the process of queueing and then coming back to complain after missing their trains.

    Then, the whole process will be repeated again, the TC will close down and be turned into a shop, and the franchise will be well on its way to being populated by a handful of managers and drivers with all the other work contracted out.

    ££££££££££ for the shareholders.

    Near zero training, zero hour contracts and permanent inability to afford a mortgage for any ticketing staff left.

    And any passengers selfish enough to want a complex transaction, refund, sleeper, changeover, etc.? Good luck with that...
     
  22. alexl92

    alexl92 Established Member

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    I've complained to NR and Northern so many times about the number of staff on their ticket office at Leeds, they just don't care. It's so stupid.
     
  23. martynbristow

    martynbristow Member

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    Well the idea is there in principle.
    Now if I mention "fishing rods" that's another kettle of ....
    The TVMs are mainly useless! But that's for a different thread.
    There is more to using a station than buying a ticket and railways are a business and not a very profitable one
     
  24. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    TOCs don't like ticket office windows because a) they cost money and b) they make more revenue from TVMs selling inappropriate tickets to people. It's a real shame that the other TOCs are taking the London Midland approach to ticket selling, but there you go.

    Quite what closing yet another window at the ticket office will achieve, given the queues are always horrendous at Leeds, goodness only knows.
     
  25. martynbristow

    martynbristow Member

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    I like self service tills, they let me get on with my shopping without hassle.
    TVMs are just not fit for purpose and I believe extensive research was conducted to this hypothesis :P
     
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