Putting "revenue protection" over customer convenience

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orpine

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I'm wondering at what point will customer convenience stop taking second place to revenue protection.


* Yesterday morning at 08:50 I couldn't buy an Offpeak ticket from a Ticket Machine for a off-peak 09:00. So after queuing at the ticket machines, I then had to queue at the manned desk. The lady said it was because there was still a fast (peak) train.


* Ticket barriers - Always fun queuing at them at under-provisioned stations when you're on a busy train. Also being shepparded all the way around the station to go through them rather than use the nearby exit which doesn't have barriers and is thus closed to the public (sometimes excepting peak times) is also fun!


* Queues of 40+ people waiting at what passes for "unpaid fares" (a single guy standing next to the disabled/bike gate with one of those hand-held things).


* Not being able to get out of the gates at 09:25 because your train is earlier than usual and your ticket is off-peak.


* Being woken (or interrupted) by ticket inspectors, sometimes repeatedly if the inspector changes during the journey.

I get that there are people who don't pay fares, but this lot must cost a fortune - not just for the "revenue protection" folks and kit, but also time wasted for the passengers. Given a large chunk of the railways is public subsidy anyway, this seems rather wasteful.

Any other examples of where revenue protection comes first?
 
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RJ21

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I personally despise barriers, at times I know I can make a connection if there is nothing in the way only to find a queue at barriers and there goes your connection, particularly at Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley when changing from a Scotrail service to VT/XC/VTEC. I am watching with interest the progress on barriers at Manchester Piccadilly, I bet that will be fun with the long distance travellers on print at home tickets and e-tickets on phones all queuing for the member of staff at the barriers who is almost always in the clutches of a clueless person asking for the next train to wherever even though there is a big board with that information on it.

I alway say to people visit Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland if they want to see the other way of doing revenue protection.
 

Clip

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When people stop chancing it then maybe these issues will dissapear but in all my career on the front line it just will not stop so therefore we need to do what we can to stop ticket less travel.

Blame your fellow humans,not the railway
 

najaB

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I personally despise barriers, at times I know I can make a connection if there is nothing in the way only to find a queue at barriers and there goes your connection...
Though, conversely, the argument could be made that if the queue at the barriers (which in my experience is never that long at either Glasgow Central or Edinburgh) is enough to make you miss your connection then your trip planning relies more on good luck than good sense.
 

yorkie

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I'm wondering at what point will customer convenience stop taking second place to revenue protection.
Depends very much on the train company.

* Yesterday morning at 08:50 I couldn't buy an Offpeak ticket from a Ticket Machine for a off-peak 09:00. So after queuing at the ticket machines, I then had to queue at the manned desk. The lady said it was because there was still a fast (peak) train.
Off Peak tickets should be available at any time. I'd complain to the train company, and if nothing changes, refer it to Transport Focus and report the matter to the ORR.

* Ticket barriers - Always fun queuing at them at under-provisioned stations when you're on a busy train. Also being shepparded all the way around the station to go through them rather than use the nearby exit which doesn't have barriers and is thus closed to the public (sometimes excepting peak times) is also fun!
That's the modern way, sadly. Fortunately York & Sheffield thwarted the DfT's attempts to make those stations less accessible. We won't stand for such attempts to cause mass inconvenience.

* Queues of 40+ people waiting at what passes for "unpaid fares" (a single guy standing next to the disabled/bike gate with one of those hand-held things).
You could try submitting delay compensation claims if the total delay, once you have got your ticket, reaches a trigger point.
* Not being able to get out of the gates at 09:25 because your train is earlier than usual and your ticket is off-peak.
Staff must allow you to exit and there should be sufficient staff. If not, complain to the company and take it further if necessary.

* Being woken (or interrupted) by ticket inspectors, sometimes repeatedly if the inspector changes during the journey.
This is just unavoidable; leave your ticket on display if necessary.
I get that there are people who don't pay fares, but this lot must cost a fortune - not just for the "revenue protection" folks and kit, but also time wasted for the passengers. Given a large chunk of the railways is public subsidy anyway, this seems rather wasteful.
I think the view of some TOCs is that most passengers have no realistic alternative option, so they can make it inconvenient for us and we'll just lump it. The likes of GTR certainly seem to act that way, while Hull Trains and Grand Central are the complete opposite.
Any other examples of where revenue protection comes first?
The best example is the infamous platform 13/14 gateline at London Victoria, as mentioned in other threads!
 

SS4

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Despite the expense they all cost less than having the required number of ticket inspectors though which is why they're used. Same reason why TVMs are taking over from staffed desks.

Machines have to follow the instructions they're programmed to so won't sell off peak tickets before 0930 because it's been told to. A person can advise of the restriction and sell it.

I see the current trend continuing to be honest. TOCs will never be able to catch everyone so it's a case of making life as difficult as possible to deter opportunists and to do so cheaply.
 

yorkie

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Though, conversely, the argument could be made that if the queue at the barriers (which in my experience is never that long at either Glasgow Central or Edinburgh) is enough to make you miss your connection then your trip planning relies more on good luck than good sense.
Not a fair comment in my opinion.

Minimum interchange time at EDB is 10 minutes (and no, I don't propose increasing that), so if you are delayed getting out of the gateline, and you have to walk a long way e.g. to Platform 1, and your train is about 3-4 minutes late (not unheard of, and still within PPM), it is going to be very tight for some people.

As for GLC, try getting from the low level platforms to platform 1 (or vice-versa) if your train is a few minutes late the last thing you need is for a queue at the low level gateline.
 

route:oxford

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Weaponise the barrier.

Remember, there is no single customer who is more important than you, so don't move to the side. Block it until staff come to your assistance. Rather than just one complaint, there's potentially dozens of complaints on twitter about delays if you do this.

Although for exiting with a valid ticket that the proprietor has made a business decision not to recognise, why not just push through the barriers? As far as I'm aware, and from experience, they are designed to open automatically if a certain level of force is used anyway.
 

Bletchleyite

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Weaponise the barrier.

Remember, there is no single customer who is more important than you, so don't move to the side. Block it until staff come to your assistance.

While I don't condone assault, this is highly inconsiderate and there are many people who, if you deliberately do that, will ensure you get a hard thump or are physically moved out of the way.
 

najaB

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Not a fair comment in my opinion.
As I said, it is based on my experiences making connections at both stations. I admit that I've never had to go from HL to LL (or VV) but personally I've never experienced queues at the barriers long enough to cause me to miss a connection from an on-time train.

I've missed connections, but never due to queues at the barriers. Perhaps I've just been lucky.
 
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route:oxford

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While I don't condone assault, this is highly inconsiderate and there are many people who, if you deliberately do that, will ensure you get a hard thump or are physically moved out of the way.

Not yet they haven't...

Out of site and you are out of mind when it comes to customer service. Stand your ground and the focus will be on you.
 

Hadders

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Despite the expense they all cost less than having the required number of ticket inspectors though which is why they're used. Same reason why TVMs are taking over from staffed desks.

How many ticket inspectors should the 0659,0736 or 0759 departures from Stevenage have? All 12-car full and standing on leaving SVG.

Whilst they're not suitable everywhere sometimes they are the best way.
 

yorkie

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Weaponise the barrier.

Remember, there is no single customer who is more important than you, so don't move to the side. Block it until staff come to your assistance. Rather than just one complaint, there's potentially dozens of complaints on twitter about delays if you do this.

Although for exiting with a valid ticket that the proprietor has made a business decision not to recognise, why not just push through the barriers? As far as I'm aware, and from experience, they are designed to open automatically if a certain level of force is used anyway.
Both of these strategies are potentially very risky.

In the first one, it's more likely to be reasonable if there are suitable alternative barriers for other people to use, though without seeing the exact scenario it's difficult to comment, but in principle I'd advise against inconveniencing other customers for failings of the rail industry.

In the second one, again this is risky and I advise against this. I would consider this if the gateline was left unattended (which shouldn't happen) and I was desperate. If I recall correctly, we had to resort to pushing our way through at Leeds for a railtour last year.
 

talldave

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One of my gripes is stations such as St Pancras (High Speed), where the majority of barriers could be set in the direction of peak passenger flow when a train arrives, but they're not. It's frustrating to be held up in a crowd of rush hour commuters whilst facing a row of red crosses on the barriers with virtually nobody coming through the other way.
 

7031

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Almost certainly controversial but I've always felt that having more barriers is not a bad thing. If there's a problem of queues then I'd argue we simply need more barriers / faster barriers and in places where they won't cause so much of a bottleneck.

To be honest I've always liked how the Oyster system works for PAYG - you tap in at the beginning and the end and the appropriate fare is charged. Little room for abuse as if you don't tap in at the end you get charged a maximum fare which would be more than simply paying the correct fare.
 

najaB

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To be honest I've always liked how the Oyster system works for PAYG...
As do most of us, I'm sure. However - as has been discussed many times - it isn't a viable model for the rest of the UK rail system.
 

PeterC

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Off Peak tickets should be available at any time. I'd complain to the train company, and if nothing changes, refer it to Transport Focus and report the matter to the ORR.
From a real person who can advise of the restriction, certainly. The red tops would have a field day over ticket machines selling people tickets that they couldn't use.
 

Harpers Tate

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Yes, but the TOCs want it every way:

- won't sell you a ticket before the deadline by machine and insufficient or no staffing resource
- yet a train on which it would be valid may leave exactly at or soon after the deadline
- won't let you on the platform without a ticket or, possibly worse,
- let you on but then "fine" you a full undiscounted fare for not pre-purchasing or NIP you at the exit for a penalty etc.

Something needs to give a little......surely!
 

najaB

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From a real person who can advise of the restriction, certainly. The red tops would have a field day over ticket machines selling people tickets that they couldn't use.
They've already had a field day over selling Peak tickets when Off-Peak are valid, so you could say they're damned either way.
 

Senex

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In the first one, it's more likely to be reasonable if there are suitable alternative barriers for other people to use, though without seeing the exact scenario it's difficult to comment, but in principle I'd advise against inconveniencing other customers for failings of the rail industry.
And yet if you don't make the point by inconveniencing other passengers, today's railway industry will just go on doing its own customer-hostile things and take no notice.

Given that for good or ill (mainly ill) we're moving to a fully barriered railway and with a lot of ticket-vending done by machine, the industry should have sorted out the procedures for arrivals and departures round about the deadlines before implementing the barrier system. The fact that it hasn't simply shews what its real opinion of its "customers" is. Suppose the deadline is 9:30 and you have a 9:31 departure from a platform remote from the ticket-hall, then you have to be able to make your ticket-purchase by probably 9:25 at the latest. The machines need to be able to deal with this.
 

6Gman

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If we must have automated barriers (and I accept the arguments) can we please have the following rules:

1. Staff should be present for both directions of travel and should be looking out for passengers requiring assistance, not standing in a huddle chatting to each other.

2. Staff should be located immediately adjacent to the switch operating the gate not in a position which requires them to walk across the gate/ lean over the gate/ get in everybody's way to actually operate the d***ed thing!
 

najaB

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2. Staff should be located immediately adjacent to the switch operating the gate not in a position which requires them to walk across the gate/ lean over the gate/ get in everybody's way to actually operate the d***ed thing!
Unless you have two staff members per gate (one each side) they'll always have to either walk or lean over. In which case it would be cheaper to get rid of the gates entirely.
 

hounddog

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Unless you have two staff members per gate (one each side) they'll always have to either walk or lean over. In which case it would be cheaper to get rid of the gates entirely.

Or have two switches...
 

island

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Off Peak tickets should be available at any time. I'd complain to the train company, and if nothing changes, refer it to Transport Focus and report the matter to the ORR.
They were – from the ticket office, who could advise of the restrictions. Operators are not required to make any particular type of tickets available from ticket vending machines.

Staff must allow you to exit and there should be sufficient staff. If not, complain to the company and take it further if necessary.
They do. But sometimes passengers with non-standard or unusual tickets need to wait.

Although for exiting with a valid ticket that the proprietor has made a business decision not to recognise, why not just push through the barriers? As far as I'm aware, and from experience, they are designed to open automatically if a certain level of force is used anyway.
It's a criminal offence under the Railway Byelaws to go through a ticket gate otherwise than in the proper manner.
 

route:oxford

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It's a criminal offence under the Railway Byelaws to go through a ticket gate otherwise than in the proper manner.

I would... Present valid ticket, take ticket and proceed forward.

No vaulting, skipping or backflipping.

Besides, it would have to be proven that the barrier was functioning correctly and operating in accordance with the validity of the ticket and journey type. It is morally wrong to put bad programming of a system above the reasonable expectations of a customer.

When automatic doors fail to operate correctly, it's not unreasonable to push...
 

island

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If the barrier has displayed a "seek assistance" message and you instead push through, that would be an offence of passing through a ticket gate otherwise than in the proper manner.

Whether something is or is not "moral" or "reasonable" is not relevant to the law. Or at least, not to this one.
 
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LeeLivery

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Almost certainly controversial but I've always felt that having more barriers is not a bad thing. If there's a problem of queues then I'd argue we simply need more barriers / faster barriers and in places where they won't cause so much of a bottleneck.

To be honest I've always liked how the Oyster system works for PAYG - you tap in at the beginning and the end and the appropriate fare is charged. Little room for abuse as if you don't tap in at the end you get charged a maximum fare which would be more than simply paying the correct fare.

Being charged a peak fare when touching in at 18:59 is the most infuriating thing. Its just unreasonable when you're clearly not getting a peak train.
 

plcd1

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Strikes me that it's not the basic intent that is wrong i.e. protecting revenue. It's the poor planning, design and operation and demotivated / unskilled staff in insufficient quantities.

Having been responsible for widespread ticket gate expansion on LU I've long been convinced of their value. They are *not* perfect nor are they a substitute for nuanced, intelligence led revenue protection activities. I am also clear that there are too many instances on National Rail where the widespread use of ticket gates is pretty stupid and as for botched, under capacity capacities then don't get me started.

The other major problem, and this is more my perception than based on hard facts, is that ticket coding and ticket logic practices on NR are not consistent. A fractured approach leads to some of the problems people have stated. The vast range of ticket types and restrictions also creates problems for automated retailing and ticket checking.

Strategically there is merit in busy urban networks having gates especially if there are smartcard / CPC type schemes proposed or in operation. Clearly you must also have staffed stations to ensure the gates work properly. I'm much less convinced on Intercity flows or rural / interurban flows. Some large stations would inevitably be gated given the overlaps in passenger flows but that should be manageable with intelligent design and operational practice.

The problem is that we have a very blunt policy view from the DfT which is "gates are good" whereas reality and passenger / business needs are much more nuanced and there is more than one way to solve a problem. One day the DfT *might* come to understand this but I'm not holding my breath given what they've done with the disaggregation approach for SEFT / smart ticketing.
 

AndrewE

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If we must have automated barriers (and I accept the arguments) can we please have the following rules:

1. Staff should be present for both directions of travel and should be looking out for passengers requiring assistance, not standing in a huddle chatting to each other.

2. Staff should be located immediately adjacent to the switch operating the gate not in a position which requires them to walk across the gate/ lean over the gate/ get in everybody's way to actually operate the d***ed thing!

Someone else has to pass through the gates at Crewe!
 
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