'Passing the Buck' (between TOCs)

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Starmill, 18 Apr 2015.

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  1. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    I recently made a journey from Leeds to Penzance. I missed my train to Penzance, the 1006 from Paddington, because the 0701 from York to Kings Cross was late by around 40 minutes. I had to take an alternative train to Penzance, but it was 2 hours later. The problem was this meant it was impossible to complete my further journeys later on in the day. The key problem with this was the fact that these routes are two different operators. Worse, rather than there being one 'big' operator and one 'local' operator, Virgin Trains East Coast and First Great Western each consider themselves the 'main' operator. Anyway after a brief and unenlightening discussion on twitter I queued up at the Kings Cross ticket office.

    I was told I needn't have, there was nothing they could do and to go and sort it all out with First Great Western, as I'd be travelling on their later service. I pointed out I'd need to come back to them and might need a different train from Kings Cross, but I was told just to speak to the manager there when I got back. It was clear they were not going to help me at all and just kept saying I was now 'First Great Western's passenger' (read: problem). I asked to speak to said manager now, and I was able to. He simply said the same thing but using better words and without the tone of trying to get rid of me so they could serve the next person in the queue. I left on his note "I appreciate your concerns, but as I cannot speak for First Great Western you will just have to go to Paddington and sort it out with them."

    Can anyone guess what happened at Paddington? That's right, they were helpful, but also kept saying that they couldn't let me travel on an alternative Virgin Trains East Coast service, and that they weren't in a position to offer me any further assistance with my journey because their train had not been late. I was 'a Virgin Trains East Coast passenger' to them. In a way that was true, VTEC had stuffed my journey and then abandoned me, can't expect FGW to go too far out of their way to sort it out. In the end, they made me an offer but I couldn't accept it, so I abandoned my journey and a big refund request is now on it's way to Stagecoach. It's actually a good case of why people cannot really be said to be one company's passenger or another in a lot of situations.

    What I'd like to discuss here is why 'passing the buck' like this has been allowed. From small cases where one might ask for help from the wrong member of staff and they simply say I don't know - that service is nothing to do with me or a tweet gets sent to the wrong company and they refer it to a second company who are also the wrong company etc etc, right up to large and serious cases like mine where one TOC says no you need to go to them to sort it out, and you do, and then they say no you need to go back to the other people and they will sort it out! *repeatedly bashes head against wall* It causes defensiveness and creates conflict too, in addition to being inefficient and causing delay and dissatisfaction to passengers. Have you ever had the buck passed? Or have you had someone very helpful who got around it for you? Of course this is scarcely the fault of the front-line staff- they are told what they can do and if they are told they mustn't authorise travel on any but their own TOC's services (which IMHO they should not - any 'authorised person' should be able to authorise travel on any train, in the passenger's interest, otherwise what is the point!).
     
    Last edited: 18 Apr 2015
  2. Jonfun

    Jonfun Member

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    What tickets did you hold and what journeys did you intend to make?

    I don't follow who hasn't authorised you to travel on what as a result of the initial delay. VTEC aren't in a position to authorise future travel on FGW, although if you were delayed on the first leg of a through journey then even if travelling on advance tix you're automatically entitled to take the next available train operated by the same TOC.
     
  3. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    I'm also confused - unless it was Yorkshire - London, London - Cornwall, Cornwall - London, London - Yorkshire. The bit about an alternative VTEC service really stumped me!
     
  4. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    *shuffles, looking at the floor*

    The key points are there without the specifics of my journey! But +AP LONDN READING if you must know. In no sense restricted to one TOC or the other.
     
  5. Jonfun

    Jonfun Member

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    I get your point that there isn't one central "British Railways", but that's always going to be a downside of privitisation.

    I honestly don't understand your journey requirements based on your post so I can't advise who's given you misinformation. Perhaps this was why the confusion occurred in the first place?
     
  6. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    Sorry, the delay meant that my journey couldn't be completed the same day. I had not really registered the advice about being able to automatically take the next train of the same company - mainly because the only thing they kept saying on twitter was go to the Kings Cross ticket office to sort it out.
     
  7. Jonfun

    Jonfun Member

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    So were you doing Leeds - Penzance, returning same day?

    The delay on VTEC pushed you late for your booked FGW off Paddington, and you were on a through advance ticket so entitled to catch the next train owing to the delay.

    BUT the next available Penzance train would have got you in too late to do what you were going to do there and possibly too late to catch your booked train back to Paddington, and hence onwards to Leeds?

    Is that broadly right?
     
  8. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    Yes. I actually created the thread to discuss the theory, as my case is being resolved. I could have booked Peterborough to Swindon and back and have the same dilemma.
     
  9. Jonfun

    Jonfun Member

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    I accept that, but at the same time without knowing why the issue occurred it's impossible to pass comment on them "passing the buck", as you put it.

    I think in this case the buck should stop at First Great Western, although it's by no means an open and shut case. I have some sympathy for the staff you spoke to as it's a situation which would not often occur and I suspect might perhaps have been misunderstood. It's one of those where either a decision should have been made that either the turnaround in Penzance counted as a 'connection' and such the return advance valid, or that the return advance train was a seperate journey and must be adhered to - it's FGW's train so they need to decide. It's not really my position to say which of those is the correct option, although given the relative infrequency of such a request I'd have said a bit of discretion would be the order of the day.

    Of course by abandoning your journey, it falls to VTEC as the company you bought your tickets from to deal with the request.

    Unfortunately, having many different companies each as their own little entity is a downside to privitisation. Railway staff should be clued up enough to ascertain who's problem it is, and advise the customer appropriately.
     
  10. HLE 13

    HLE 13 Established Member

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    As VTEC actually caused the delay and caused you to miss your FGW connection then common sense would be that VTEC ought to endorse your ticket to use the next available FGW service having got authorization from FGW and that be the end of it.

    It's something I've had to do many times and it's not hard to do, plus it helps reassures the passenger that they will be okay and they won't have issues further down the line.
     
  11. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    I imagine this is what it comes down to - is Kofieye's Leeds - London, London - Penzance, Penzance - London, London - Leeds one journey, or are Leeds - London - Penzance a journey and Penzance - London - Leeds separate journeys.

    I can understand why this gets confusing.... I feel that if doing that in the same day was a plan, it was an ambitious one - I certainly wouldn't attempt the same! ;)
     
  12. MichaelAMW

    MichaelAMW Member

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    I'd agree about the ambition! However, there is an important underlying question for a more benign situation. Perhaps I buy two Advance tickets to go from London to Birmingham and back, allowing for 5 hours in Birmingham, and my outward journey is delayed 2 hours. Should I be allowed 2 hours "grace" on my return journey? Or, similarly, my delayed outward journey on an Off-Peak tickets means I end up having to travel back in the evening "peak" period for that ticket.
     
  13. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    Another good question and one that I have no clue as to the answer of, as once again it is subjective what the 'journey' is.
     
  14. MichaelAMW

    MichaelAMW Member

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    Although I didn't say this, I was really thinking that they *are* different journeys but I was wondering whether the TOC nevertheless would have to consider that they are related.
     
  15. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I agree there is an entitlement, and therefore no authorisation or endorsement is required. You can simply board the next train. However some Guards won't appreciate this, and if you have a lengthy wait, and won't be further delayed by doing so, it's probably advisable to seek advice at the booking office.
    It shouldn't be, as we still have common ticketing and common T&Cs (in theory).
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    FGW do not need to be asked for 'authorisation'; Jonfun is correct in that the ticket is automatically valid.
    I agree. It's a case of providing reassurances rather than being required.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Leeds - Penzance is the outward journey.
    Penzance - Leeds is the return journey.

    He hadn't split tickets, but if he had, it would make no difference to what the journey is, it's still Leeds - Penzance followed by Penzance - Leeds!

    Changing trains doesn't in any way affect this, either.
    So if you had to deliver an item, you'd have driven? It's a long drive. (If you want to answer that, let's debate the ambitiousness in a new thread!)
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    The return journey cannot commence its origin before the outward journey has arrived at its destination, so in that sense, they clearly are related.

    If a delay occurs which means you cannot reach the return journey origin before you were due to depart the outward journey destination, this will be a problem, and it should be resolved by providing good customer service by establishing what the passenger would like to do, and if that is deemed reasonable, then allow it. In practice, this may be easier if there is only one TOC involved.

    But the point here is not to get too bogged down in the detail; the fact is EC apparently said he was an FGW customer, and FGW apparently said he was an EC customer. In reality he was a customer of both!
     
  16. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    I'm afraid I don't really see why it's confusing! One return journey was made - Leeds to Penzance and back. Two Advance Singles were used.

    The following should also be considered:
    -Had the H&C line not have had severe delays, and a perfect LU journey had been available and I'd ran, there is a small chance I could have made it. As it was, due to the severe delays message, and FGW's advice (which I now see was redundant) to go to the ticket office, I didn't try.
    -Two hours is a huge delay to anyone's journey. Most everyone would need to replan much of their day once the found out that they would be being delayed by that long, surely we can agree on that?
    -More than the minimum interchange time, by around 15 minutes, was allowed through London (not that I had anything to do with that, the booking engine chooses it for you - so far as I know only trainsplit allows you to take more interchange time should you desire it).
     
  17. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    Absolutely agree - me claiming that I was 'confused' was not a clever way of saying I disagree - I genuinely was confused.

    I'm guessing what you felt was the worst in the whole affair was the "he's your customer, no he's not, he's yours" between the two TOCs involved, but it would be interesting to see what the 'offer' was or what an alternative itinerary could have been.
     
  18. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    The Night Riviera. Ironically it arrives too late for the first train of the morning to Leeds - and would there be time for a shower? Would I be obliged to get off the sleeper upon arrival at 0523, when I might still be asleep? Normally passengers can remain onboard until 0700. I also had a First Class ticket and this accommodation is not available on the 2145 Penzance - London Paddington service. What would have been required was a train from London to Leeds at around 9-10am the following day, and that was, it seemed, not going to happen.
     
  19. Bantamzen

    Bantamzen Established Member

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    I hope you manage to sort the repay out, and whilst it does help reveal a hole in the current ticketing system I personally would suggest that if the TOCs don't agree to repay you take this one on the chin. At best it's an optimistic journey to make, with only a couple of return services from Penzance that will get you back for the Leeds connection that evening. And it might also explain why both TOCs were a bit reluctant to deal with it. Yes the journey is just about possible, but at the same time if you undertake a 1,000 mile round journey in one day by train then you yourself are taking a heck of a risk. And as you say, a delay of 40 minutes meant that your return trip became impossible in the same day, so the risk of not being able to complete this journey was very high.
     
  20. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    So if you had to deliver an item, you'd have driven? It's a long drive. (If you want to answer that, let's debate the ambitiousness in a new thread!)
     
  21. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    Ok, so in effect FGW had worked something out to get you back to London, it's just the uncertainty about what happens when you get back to King's Cross - and I imagine you're working this out at Paddington ticket office, and not wanting to (understandably) go back to VTEC to sort it out for later.

    Surely the 17:39 Penzance - Pad (which does convey 1st class) would also have been an option, although you'd be then facing a several hour late for the first Leeds train (no idea what time that is, but presumably before 5:23) given that this doesn't get in to London until gone midnight.
     
  22. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    If I had to deliver an item that distance, I'd post it, or send by courier if of more value.
     
  23. PermitToTravel

    PermitToTravel Established Member

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    Agreed although there are other hypothetical situations that can be substituted, for example having to witness the signature of a contract. I agree with the above points that the OP should have been prepared for problems, making that sequence of journeys, although would limit that to saying that they should have been prepared to arrive home several hours late or next day; not to spend more money on tickets. (not that I'm suggesting that anyone who's yet posted thinks they should)

    In my opinion King's Cross ticket office (or even the VTEC guard) should have been able to agree a new itinerary with the OP and give authorisation for them to follow it, as would have been the case before privatisation. I wonder, had the guard or booking office staff decided to do that, whether FGW's staff would have accepted VTEC's authorisation
     
  24. Jonfun

    Jonfun Member

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    From what you've posted, you've seeked the assistance of rail staff at Kings Cross as soon as you became aware that there might be an issue (which is good - far too few people do) and were advised of the correct people to speak to about your return journey. Speaking to the FGW staff, they agreed to treat your ticket as a connection and thus allow travel on a later service (which as I say, I would consider to be the appropriate thing to do in these circumstances). If they then said that you'd have to speak to VTEC about onward arrangements from London, this is incorrect advice, as you've been delayed off a previous connection and as such you can continue by a later train as required - stamping or annotating the back of the ticket with information about the reasons for the overnight delay would be advised, but unessential.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    They may have done but it's by no means guaranteed - if FGW then refuse to consider the Penzance layover as a connection and instead two seperate journeys then the OP's left in a pickle. Far more appropriate to leave the TOC who's validity is in doubt to make the call and once they have then VTEC are going to have to follow suit.
     
  25. PermitToTravel

    PermitToTravel Established Member

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    I'm aware it's not the case contractually; but do we think that, in an ideal world, someone making two separate journeys who has the first delayed should be allowed to replan the second? In my opinion they always should be, in the case that delays to the first jeopardise their being able to get back at all; and otherwise it should be treated on a case by case basis, for example allowing return two hours later (for a two hour outbound delay) if the legs are on the same day, but refusing return any later for a three hour outbound delay that was on a different day.
     
  26. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Yes I'd say some discretion is needed in this kind of case (and in any similar case where a delay means the passenger can't otherwise have the required length of time at their destination).

    I'm genuinely surprised that journey is possible in a day. I did once look at a day trip from MK to Penzance and at the time I'm almost certain it wasn't possible without either using the Sleeper or staying overnight.

    I'd also be interested to know where the contractual relationship lies when it comes to multi-TOC tickets. Can one ticket purchase create multiple contracts?
     
  27. PermitToTravel

    PermitToTravel Established Member

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    Yes - the NRCoC starts with "A ticket that has been issued to you is evidence of a contract between you and each Train Company whose trains you have the right to use.". I don't know the implications this has for delays with integrated tickets.
     
  28. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    I don't really think discretion should be needed, if your return train departs before your outward arrives, they can't just ignore your contract!

    Also, a vast majority of tickets are valid on more than one operator, so your last question seems a little strange. Despite Arriva's complaining, we still (thankfully) have a nationally integrated ticket system!

    Regarding the timetable, if you use CrossCountry on the return, you can do Newcastle to Penzance and back inside of a day.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    It was presented as an option, but I wasn't going to accept a bit over 5 hours wait at Paddington by myself with no accommodation but what's available in the station between 0000 and 0500 (and having to pay for that)!
     
  29. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I'm referring to the situation where there is time at your destination but insufficient for the intended purpose.

    Nothing strange about it. It can create legal complexities if multiple contracts are formed, particularly as they are not all the same (a TOC can give you better, but not worse, rights than the NCoC).
     
  30. Jonfun

    Jonfun Member

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    I honestly don't know what else there is to say. If you were misinformed about your right to take the next train if delayed by an earlier connection then that obviously is incorrect and shouldn't have happened. But I don't think this situation is described anywhere in policy, rightly or wrongly, and as such FGW took the sensible approach and allowed you to take a later train, indeed also offering to provide overnight accommodation in way of the sleeper.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    The debate is, and I'll leave it to those wiser than I, where someone books a "there and back trip" on advance tickets, is it considered one journey, or two individual ones? Discretion was used and offered anyway so it's a moot point here, but it does leave a question open for the future.
     
    Last edited: 20 Apr 2015
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