Northern Rail - Revenue Loss

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by 55Flyer, 26 Oct 2011.

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  1. 55Flyer

    55Flyer Member

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    Northern Rail lose thousands of pounds a year through revenue loss on my commute alone!

    I know this topic will have been covered before but as it isn't going away here it is again.

    Having commuted on the MAN - SHF stopper for many years I have seen literally tens of thousands of pounds of fares lost, that have not been paid and I can only assume that this happens on many other routes. It must amount to a massive amount of money.

    The reason for this, as I'm sure you know is that most stations don't have ticket facilities, commuters board the train, they don't buy a ticket, mainly because the Guard can't get around to everyone as the train gets full towards SHF, or the ticket machine fails (regularly!).

    Over the years, again i'm making an assumption, the loss is added to the fare prices and therefore, those commuters that do pay, e.g. season ticket holders are subsidising the regular fare dodgers. Of course they could purchase a ticket at the mainline station if they so wanted.

    There must be a way to sort this out, I know barriers were nearly installed at SHF but because of a public right of way through the station, it never happened.

    I don't know what the answer is really but there are salaried rail type people that should know! but I do know 150 people got off a train this morning at SHF and 90% of them hadn't paid a bean! so basically this needs sorting! Not necessarily NR sole problem as EMT are involved, as I say it must be a national issue anyway.
     
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  3. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    How do you know that?

    Did you check everyone's tickets?
     
  4. 55Flyer

    55Flyer Member

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    Obviously I don't know, I am generalising, change that to the majority, that I do know.
     
  5. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    Indeed - presumably as you have a season ticket then most people will not know that you have purchased a ticket if no collector comes round? The numbers in your post are of course rhetorical and based on completely unsupported presumptions!

    But the argument does still stand: one of the priorities for TOCs should be to sort out ways of collecting revenue on commuter lines such as this, where each station may be relatively small, but the overall demand for travel is high.

    There are two ways in which this can be done: ticket machines which are then matched with roaming RPIs; or, barriers at major destination stations. Neither are flawless, of course!
     
  6. LexyBoy

    LexyBoy Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Not really; Season tickets are regulated so can only rise by the DfT approved rate (RPI+5%±3% IIRC?). The fare-dodgers subsidy will come out of unregulated fares and the taxpayer.

    They could, and Northern (and others) have been 'catching people out' who leave their end station without buying a ticket for their journey. Whether they advertise this on posters or not is another matter; the exercise is rather pointless if they do it just to prosecute the occasional passenger without using it as a deterrent.

    I'm not often in Northern-land, but I get the impression that Northern are not helping by being very slow in installing TVMs where needed, preferring to have an occasional heavy-handed blitz (handing out "vouchers" to passengers to "prove" that they boarded at a particular station for example).

    Without wishing to start the perennial ticket barrier debate, the solution IMO is to bring in TVMs and more ticket offices at most/all stations, and have a stronger stance on selling on-board - i.e. Anytime Singles only (though I appreciate that Anytime tickets are the only/major ones on some Northern flows). That, or employing enough guards/RPIs to thoroughly check every train throughout the journey (which isn't likely to happen), and having longer trains so they can get through. Not barriering major hubs and leaving the suburban stations open.
     
  7. ANorthernGuard

    ANorthernGuard Established Member

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    The reason was quite simply the download to the avantix machines failed during the night and all Picc machines were out of order just for your info tho the 2 early northern services to sheffield 2 thirds of passengers tend to have passes, machines started to get sorted around 11am


    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    And where does the money come from?


     
  8. Harlesden

    Harlesden Member

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    Could someone explain to a Londoner why the (to me) common sense solution of
    installing a ticket machine on every station allowing the route/area to be made a Penalty Fare zone is not adopted. If the losses are, indeed, as substantial as you imply, then surely the TOC could invest in a second employee (RPI) on every train who performs no other duty.
     
  9. 55Flyer

    55Flyer Member

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    I am being presumptious about the numbers, but the general issue is there. From observation most people buy day tickets on the train. One or two wave their season ticket at the guard. The days of ticket faciliities at every station are long gone, the loss of the facilities has brought this issue on hasn't it and as trains get busier and busier the problem grows!
     
  10. WestCoast

    WestCoast Established Member

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    While I don't think it's nearly as bad as the OP is stating, I certainly believe the point still stands.

    Its seems Northern 'network north west' contract out the bulk of their revenue protection to the infamous security firm, G4S. They can't work on trains (and I don't suppose many guards would want them to!).

    The guards do tend to be rather motivated to check/sell tickets, I don't think that's the issue here. However, checking packed trains when you have the doors to open/close regularly as well (e.g. Glossop Line) is going to be difficult.

    I think a lack of ticket purchasing facilities is a problem, just look at the queues for G4S at various 'hotspots'.

    The Northern Rail commuter network might as well be in another country to the South East of England. It's operated in a different way!
     
  11. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Do you know how much ticket machines cost? 5 figure sums apiece, and the cost of maintaining and securing them would be ongoing.
    Have you read Penalty Fare legislation? The route is clearly not an appropriate route for penalty fares.
    If it was financially beneficial for Northern to employ more ticket staff, they probably would. But perhaps the current franchise holders aren't good at determining that, in which case perhaps one of the future bidders for the franchise will. At the end of the day the best bidder in terms of value for money from taxpayers will be awarded the franchise.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    How do you know this? I can only assume you went round inspecting tickets, and if not then it's incorrect information. Also how do you know they are not travelling beyond Sheffield, again did you ask them?
     
  12. LexyBoy

    LexyBoy Established Member Fares Advisor

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    *shrugs* Thinking in la-la land, the money could come from a DfT loan, I'd say, if the cost/benefit ratio could be shown to be good enough.

    There is (apparently) a problem, I suggested a solution. It wasn't meant as criticism - I'm sure Northern have thought about it and decided what the most cost effective (having no money) solution is!

    This would make sense, but it's quite a long winded and expensive procedure to introduce PF zones (in addition to installing all the necessary TVMs). As most fares are low (cheaper than a cappuccino apparently :)), a £20 PF - if there is a highish chance of getting one - should be a reasonable deterrent.

    Or they could follow EMT's lead and just introduce a PF scheme without waiting for approval. (*ducks*).
     
  13. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    I find the cost of those things to be astronomical! All you have to go is get a touch-screen computer (you can get some very cheap ones on eBay), some ticket printers, an internet connection, a box, and hey presto - a ticket machine! :D

    I contacted Arriva a while back about why they couldn't install a ToD at Whitchurch (WTC) - the Shrewsbury to Crewe line suffers from a similar problem to the OP in the morning peak - and when they came back with the figure (:shock:) I found it more than understandable why they hadn't done so! Perhaps McNulty should have included the "makeshift" sub-£500 ToD in his report? ;)
     
  14. heenan73

    heenan73 Member

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    They are stuck between a rock and a hard place. the only (financially) viable way to collect more money is to have more on-train staff doing it; but that is impossible, as so many trains are so crowded that ticket inspection is often a joke.

    The money comes out of the taxpayers pockets. The TOC knew the problem when they bid for the franchise; their bid would have reflected the expected income, rather than the theoretical income if 100% paid. So the shortfall is factored into the franchise agreement, and is part of the x pence per mile subsidy the taxpayer pays.

    It can't be sorted until overcrowding is sorted, which means more trains, or wait until inflation +1% gradually makes rail travel uneconomical for enough people to thin out the crowds. That may take a while.

    To be fair to DaFT, though it pains me to do so, when the franchise was let, ALL predictions were for a pretty flat line in growth in the Northern area; the outstanding progress, due in part to the new TOC being a tad better than the old, has meant unforseen and uncosted overcrowding. There have been a few sops sent to help, but far from enough, and the next franchise negotiation is pretty unlikely (on past form) to fund nearly enough extra stock to deal with the issue.

    In other words, DaFT are happy to lose x millions in revenue, rather than invest y millions in a better service, with much reduced revenue loss through fare evasion.

    Only someone who can do advanced algebra knows whether their calculation is a reasonable one.

    Be wary of assuming people don't have tickets; I was once on a packed bendibus in South London that was subjected to a mass police and TFL inspection. Despite the Daily Mail view that 90% would be ticket-free, just two people did not have appropriate tickets, and one of them was a tourist who appeared genuinely confused.
     
    Last edited: 26 Oct 2011
  15. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    Many stations do not have staff at all. Many do not have ticket machines. The few recent ones to be introduced are card-only. Unless you have full ticketing facilites you can't have an effective PF scheme. Presumably Northern think if they put those in they'll lose from machines being forced open.

    There was a short-lived PF scheme on my line (Leeds - Skipton). From what I've heard it was fairly disastrous.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I'd have to argue against this on our line (Airedale). Metro were predicting growth on this line and others and requested enhancements to services. There's been steady growth on most lines in West Yorkshire since the mid 80s.

    Some services in West Yorkshire (many of them on the Calervale line) were already leaving people behind even if no extra demand was generated.
     
  16. WestCoast

    WestCoast Established Member

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    Ah, yes, the £2.19 or something like that 'average Northern fare'. Within PTE boundaries I can well believe it, outside the boundaries (where I commute) I think it's a different story.

    Even so, the more £2.19s you collect, the better...
     
  17. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    Have you ever used the 'Boris Bikes' in London? That's what happens if you use a cheap touch-screen computer - I reckon that 1 in every 3 that I've ever tried to use (used the bikes around 20 times, won't be bothering anymore though!) hasn't worked for various reasons. I'm always impressed by how (generally) reliable TVMs are, presumably because the TOCs pay for good hardware
     
  18. 55Flyer

    55Flyer Member

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    I don't know, but as I don't know the true numbers or percentages then neither do NR or EMT they don't, they have no way of measuring something they don't have systems in place to measure. I know commuters every week do not pay their fares from stations nearer to SHF as the Guard can't get around the train. There is a loss here, I don't know the exact figures and neither do the company because they don't control it. Someone walks onto a train and gets off the other end. NR don't know anything about lost fare, but from regular travel this is happening alot.

    Read Anorthernguards reply, that explains todays issue, thanks.

    Here is a suggestion though, some might laugh at this. Employ part time ticket sellers at the busiest stations (100K journeys per year?), just for an hour or two in the morning! would this be economically viable? some of the cost would be recovered from gaining the once lost fares.
     
  19. spacehopper

    spacehopper Member

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    Well they are wanting to make it even easier for you to buy a ticket.....

    Closing tickets offices, installing very reliable machines and doing away with guards and other staff.

    It doesn't matter because everyone will be buying their cheap day return on the internet or using a smart card.
     
  20. WestCoast

    WestCoast Established Member

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    Err, in Northern's case, the ticket offices were never there or have not existed for a long time, they aren't installing many TVMs and they aren't doing away with guards.

    We haven't even got Ticket-On-Departure at most Northern Rail ran stations.
     
  21. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    They did used to do this. I've not seen one for a while but I mostly travel outside the busiest peak hours when the guard does have the time and ability to get through the train. Anyone know if they still do?
     
  22. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    I used to travel regularly between Middlesbrough and Darlington/Sunderland/Newcastle and was, about 90% of the time, asked to buy a ticket. The guard came round after every stop, too. This was in 2007-08 ish.
     
  23. WestCoast

    WestCoast Established Member

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    The point is that it's not always possible for the guards to do this, the commuter routes into Greater Manchester being a good example - they're busy at peak times as you would expect. There are significant differences between Northern 'west' and Northern 'east' as well.

    In any case, passengers don't have to buy a ticket before travel even from staffed stations, Anytime fares can technically be purchased onboard.
     
  24. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    There seems to be a lot of fare dodging on lines with lots of unstaffed stations and stops. The Bishop Auckland line is particularly bad for this. Darlington has barriers, so a lot of people just seem to get off at nearby, unstaffed and unbarriered North Road and walk the rest of the way. Of course the conductor comes 'round but there's not usually enough time to serve more than half of the train, at least on a busy day and when people are fiddling about for change.

    Given that for a non-PTE area the fares are quite cheap on this line I doubt it would be economical to employ an on-train RPI in addition to the conductor to ensure all fares are collected. The barriers at Darlington do some of the work, but the fare dodgeers will tend to just walk from North Road. Perhaps the occasional human barrier at North Road is a solution, with those reluctant to pay up being prosecuted? Put a load of RPIs with Avantix Mobiles on duty blocking the exit and Bob's your Uncle. Well, it may work eventually. If people work out that they even may have to pay up they'll probably just save the effort, go to DAR where they will have to pay.

    The Bishop Auckland line is just one example. I also found out that the Stoke-on-Trent-Manchester Piccadilly route was virtually a free network from Longport to Cheadle Hulme, with the guard rarely bothering to check tickets for passengers who got on in between. Some were the exception, but I would frequently observe people travelling for 3 or so stops and managing to get off without buying a ticket. And that one probably an on-train RPI would make sense, at least to cover the peak times when they got quite busy. I realise it'd be difficult for a guard to do that route on his/her own.

    I believe it's the case under many TOC's 'buy on board' policy, but I thought walking past an open ticket office without a ticket and boarding a train was sufficient evidence for 1889 intent (IANAL so I may be wrong). Also I'm sure I've seen signs with threats on Northern trains that ticketless travellers can be fined up to £1000, unless at an unstaffed station where they must buy from a conductor. So is it the case maybe that if the you may purchase 'anytime' tickets on board only if the TOC is willing to sell you them?
     
    Last edited: 26 Oct 2011
  25. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    But if a guard doesn't make it round then the worst an RPI at north road can do is offer the full range of tickets for sale, all discounts included!

    By which I mean, worst for a would-be fare dodger!
     
  26. YorkshireBear

    YorkshireBear Established Member

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    Ticket machines in northern land dont really work. Say it costs £2500 for a ticket machine and you put two on a station in leeds. It will costs you £15000 by the end of the year as you have to repeatedly replace them due to vandalism...
     
  27. exile

    exile Established Member

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    Staffed ticket barriers at Lime St. They only need to operate 8-9 and 5-6 pm as those are the only periods the trains are actually too crowded for on-train staff to do ticket checks.

    Off-peak, the conductor is easily able to check all tickets (though they seem reluctant to do so on late night trains)
     
  28. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    Tricky to employ people just for those 2 hours a day though - what useful (ie probably revenue earning) work are they going to be doing in between?
     
  29. YorkshireBear

    YorkshireBear Established Member

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    Would you? It can be quite scary at night.... funny characters about
     
  30. exile

    exile Established Member

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    There are already staff who work on the "barriers" on platforms 1 to 6 at Lime St - but they're basically old-fashioned gates and the checking is a bit cursory at busy times. Having proper barriers would allow most passengers to get through without needing manual checks and allow the staff to concentrate on those who can't use the barriers. Presently there is no barrier/gate or ticket checking on platforms 8 and 9. Platform 7 (Virgin) has a gate at which all tickets are checked on boarding London trains.

    There are already barriers at the Low Level station as there are at Central and Moorfields.
     
  31. neilmc

    neilmc Member

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    I recently went on holiday in the West Country and travelled into a work office in Bedminster from Highbridge for one day. I was surprised there was no ticket machine at Highbridge but was assured by other passengers that the guard would sell tickets on the train. In came the train, a single unit coupled to a two-coach unit - I got on the single unit and never saw the guard. Free ride.

    Return journey, no ticket machine or staff at Bedminster. This was a two-coach unit and the guard did come round just after Weston and said she would sell me a ticket when she'd checked all the others but never got round to it. Another free ride. You can't blame the passenger for depriving the TOC if they have no inclination either to collect the fares or to install a ticket machine.
     
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