Problems using a Britrail pass on London Overground (denied travel)

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by classicmds, 20 Jun 2017.

  1. plcd1

    plcd1 Member

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    Dear God! How utterly, utterly useless.

    I have pointed out this discussion thread to an appropriate person at TfL. Hopefully something will be done to rectify the multiple nonsenses that have been highlighted.
     
    Last edited: 24 Jun 2017
  2. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    In the UK, the railways don't encourage staff to read documents to determine the official stance on things - it's all about asking someone more experienced, who probably wouldn't be seen dead having to look something up. Customer Service departments usually defer to such people, who may or may not know what they're talking about, so you end up getting responses such as the one you have.

    TfL's computers have access to the internal Knowledgebase, the railway's encyclopedia of ticketing information. Assuming Customer Services know about this, it could have been used.

    Be prepared to argue with ticket inspectors that your Britrail pass is valid. Very embarrassing really, but the train operators won't do anything as it costs too much to provide quality training and vet job applicants for the ability to take initiative and look things up.
     
    Last edited: 24 Jun 2017
  3. 185143

    185143 Established Member

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    Pardon?? Wouldn't be as bad if that brand of GTR was branded 'Southern Rail'...

    To say that's a crap response would be an understatement!
     
  4. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Hopefully that response will be re-issued very soon.

    The issue is that Britrail passes are probably rarely encountered by any individual member of staff. I've only stamped a couple in my years and helped out colleagues who had never seen one before. People have different levels of autonomy - some will use their phone or the ticket office computer to check the Britrail website to establish where it's accepted. Some might phone the pricing department of the RDG for advice. Some only have the ability to ask colleagues who also don't know, but will form a consensus based on nothing and run with it in a united front.

    The wider issue is that the industry does not attempt to take on people with a natural ability to take initiative when it comes to finding out about things which they don't come across on a daily basis. If someones come bundled with that kind of "interest" then great, but it's not considered to be an important skill by those in charge. Hence, poor quality to downright misleading advice is put out left, right and centre on a scale probably much larger than anyone cares to admit, even about really fundamental things that shouldn't be obscure or complex.

    I think it's a significant source of embarrassment that tourists from abroad can buy a "cover all National Rail" ticket, only to be put off travelling because of staff who collectively can't muster up the aptitude to find the correct information or ask the people who are certain to know. The typical railway response is "our staff can't be expected to know everything." Very true, but why is it preferable for customers to be given crap advice, to empowering staff with the skills to find out anything they don't know?
     
    Last edited: 25 Jun 2017
  5. classicmds

    classicmds Member

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    Yes, I get that there might be an issue in not having seen these before - though as you say that doesn't excuse the attitude of just making up advice rather than actually checking. I think Britrail itself could help a little by actually printing a full list of the train operating companies on its passes (though I guess they are always renaming the franchies so this is probably a tiresome task).

    But it seems the more fundamental issue than this is not knowing that LO and TfL Rail are National Rail services. That should be known by all staff -- and certainly by TfL customer services. If ticket staff knew that, then it would not be so hard a leap to accept a Britrail pass (and as people have pointed out, denying National Rail tickets on these services is not just limited to Britrail)

    Also, my experience of using Britrail on other lines has been that no member of staff as even flinched when I presented it, suggesting it is not really that hard to train staff to know what it is -- esp. in the capital!
     
  6. Clip

    Clip On Moderation

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    Thats just shocking truly truly shocking
     
  7. James H

    James H Member

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    I think this would be worth raising with a London Assembly member with a view to getting a formal question to the mayor tabled, seeking a commitment to deal with this issue.

    (The assembly is questioning TfL commissioner Mike Brown this Wednesday morning)
     
  8. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

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    Part of the issue is that most front-line ticketing staff (ie not traincrew) are not paid particularly well and those people who join having the right aptitude to work autonomously are highly likely to move on to other positions either for more money or less anti-social hours. Thus genuinely effective ticket staff are relatively uncommon though there are plenty that do try and would do much better with more encouragement/assistance from management. Given the DfT's complete disinterest in this area I do not expect it to get better, quite the reverse in fact.
     
  9. classicmds

    classicmds Member

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    Out of interest, what will the status of the new Crossrail/Elizabeth Line be? Will it be under National Rail conditions? I read it will be a similar concession to TfL as London Overground, but also read that some of the central track will be owned by TfL not National Rail.
     
  10. plcd1

    plcd1 Member

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    It is clearly a NR service today and will remain so in future even when extended across London. Infrastructure ownership is irrelevant given TfL own the core ELL extension from Dalston Junction to just north of NXG / to New Cross / round to the junction near Queens Rd Peckham. The train service is still a NR service despite everything. Chiltern Railways are still a TOC even though some of their trains run on LUL metals. Ditto London Overground.

    From what I can recall of the Crossrail Agreement the Secretary of State still retains reserve powers in respect of Crossrail so it is not entirely in the hands of the Mayor and TfL. Finally I would add that TfL have run a few consultations about Crossrail and use of the central core section. The context has been compliance with the National Rail regulatory framework so TfL are caught with the industry's regulatory structure just like everyone else.
     
  11. classicmds

    classicmds Member

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    Good to know,
     
  12. the sniper

    the sniper Established Member

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    I appreciate this is old news, but that is unbelievable... I'll say this for TfL/LO, that they've managed to brainwash their entire operation with this branding crap that they're not part of National Rail is quite impressive. I can't think of any other TOC that has managed to get staff so onboard with a brand message! It might be complete crap, but it's still quite something...
     
  13. Joe Paxton

    Joe Paxton Established Member

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    If I had to make a choice between a regular TOC and LO, even with its faults I'd take LO every day of the week.

    However this non-acceptance of perfectly valid tickets obviously isn't on. I don't think there's any great conspiracy here, just bad training and a lack of understanding and comprehension.

    This is something that I suggest is worth taking up with the higher echelons at TfL if at all possible - also James H suggested a London Assembly member, going one better how about the Transport Committee of the Assembly. There's also London TravelWatch of course.
     
  14. Quakkerillo

    Quakkerillo Member

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    I've used Interrail on London Overground before, and have been checked by staff at Hoxton, Watford Junction, Highbury & Islington, Hampstead Heath, and Camden road before to enter/exit the station. Also I've been checked by TfL staff on Overground trains twice or thrice. Half the staff looked at it, nodded, and opened the gate, the other half took a more quizzical look (also because my pass is either in Dutch or French, being bought in Brussels), but always they've perfectly accepted it after deciphering it.

    It certainly is the TOC I've had most problems with (other TOC staff always perfectly accepted it) but never have I been quizzed or questioned about it. So I assumed that staff were well aware on these kind of Interrail/Britrail tickets. I'll be using this again next month and will be curious to see how it goes this time.
     
  15. matt_world2004

    matt_world2004 Established Member

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    I have raised the issue multiple times on the tfl internal yammer page about them not accepting national rail tickets when they should be accepted, (for example london terminals tickets via aylesbury) to baker street, London terminal ticket validity for break of journeys at stratford. Etc etc and it causes quite a few arguments. It personally gets me quite angry on the matter

    Its quite hard arguing against the hive mind.
     
    Last edited: 28 Jun 2017
  16. Silver Cobra

    Silver Cobra Member

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    Seeing the comments here about London Overground and ticket acceptance, it makes me wonder how they stand when it comes to the All Line Rover. According to the pages on NRE, an ALR is valid on LO. However, it wouldn't surprise me if LO claimed that it isn't valid on their services.
     
  17. matt_world2004

    matt_world2004 Established Member

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    Shouldnt britrail passes/alr be valid on London Underground on interavailable routes anyway, like the bakerloo line between harrow and queens park, the metropolitan line between baker street and Amersham and the district line between tower hill and upminster anuway
     
  18. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Validity on interavailable routes iirc is defined as only available to holders of single/return and season tickets only.
     
  19. matt_world2004

    matt_world2004 Established Member

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    Veterans oyster cards, police oyster cards/staff passes are valid on interavailable london underground routes (eg the c2c to upminster) without the time restrictions associated with their national rail validity,
     
  20. Silver Cobra

    Silver Cobra Member

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    Would interavailability supercede an outright restriction on using a particular service? For instance, the NRE page for the All Line Rover states that the ticket is not valid on London Underground services, so I would assume that means you also cannot use LU services on interavailable routes like those you mentioned.
     
  21. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think, although cannot check atm, that the wording for NR tickets being valid on LUL routes, and LUL tickets being valid on NR routes were different.

    I won't be able to check until tomorrow.
     
  22. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Actually, tell a lie, I have a copy of the London section of the iKB on my computer.

    It would appear that interavailability applies to single/return fares only with LUL tickets being accepted on NR services, but obviously LUL season tickets are Travelcards so they would automatically be valid within the zones paid for.

    It does not preclude additional local validity being granted, of course.

    Those Oyster cards you mentioned are treated as season tickets in ticketing terms I believe, so would have qualified within the spirit of the rules I believe in any case.
     

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  23. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    Should be no problem - how many other operators even go to the effort of selling the ticket from their machines? Any problems - just refer the gateline attendant to the nearest machine that clearly only excludes London Underground, not London Overground.

    overground_all_line_rover_cond.jpg
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2017
  24. Joe Paxton

    Joe Paxton Established Member

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    There is a difference between a corporate policy and the words of a misinformed member of staff (even if, sadly, said member of staff is a customer services bod replying to correspondence).
     
  25. classicmds

    classicmds Member

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    Used Britrail again yesterday at Dalston Kingsland. On exit, the TfL staff said "you need to change this for a proper ticket at a ticket office." I explained it was a Britail pass. He then admitted he had never seen one before and let me out. On re-entry the guy looked at and said "this is for Greater Anglia" (which was the ToC who stamped its initial validity). I explained it was valid for all NR and he let me through.

    On this occasion, then, it seemed to be the Britrail ticket itself that was causing the issue -- neither disputed LO was National Rail -- and both let me through (though, again, seemed to be inclined to make up a policy on the spot when faced with a new scenario, rather than investigate before pronouncing!)
     
  26. Joe Paxton

    Joe Paxton Established Member

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  27. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    This is embarrassing to say the least! I have used Japan Rail passes a couple of times and never had any problem in the slightest with these being accepted.
     
  28. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    I'm glad this isn't putting you off travelling <( A brief should really be distributed to all of LO's stations and revenue staff ASAP. A couple of sentences should sufficient to get the point across without the reader getting bored:

    1. Britrail passes are accepted on your trains.
    2. They are valid for travel on your trains if in date and stamped.

    Along with a picture of the pass and a link to the website.
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2017
  29. matt_world2004

    matt_world2004 Established Member

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    Tfl prodice a ticketing guide for bus operators which details every single tocket that is valid on buses they need to produce one for London Overground as well
     
  30. classicmds

    classicmds Member

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    Another question about Britrail... A VT inspector just stopped me at Euston ticket chck and asked for proof of residence. I'm not traveling round with my passport, so showed her a US State-issued driving license with my photo, name and address. She said it would have to be a passport though she would accept this this time. Another man (I think a supervisor) then said he would not let me through without a passport , and tried to physically restrain me, but the first lady told him it was ok and he relented!

    The Britrail T&Cs say that a passport has to be presented on initial validation (which it was) but simply states "proof of residency" needs to be presented on any subsequent ticket checks if requested. Given that a passport does not in fact provide proof of residency (only proof of nationality), and that a driving license does, I'm assuming a driving license should be ok according to the T&Cs. (I presume one could argue a recent utility bill would also meet the criteria since it doesn't even say "government-issued" proof of residency, but I'm sure the photo on the card helps).

    Any thoughts?

    This is the first time anyone has asked me for ID in the 6 weeks of using the pass so far...
     

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