Rail staff facilities: Some TOCs say to be used in an "emergency" only

greyman42

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Safeguarded staff travel facilities are enshrined in the Railways Act 1993 rather than being a solely contractual matter between themselves and their employer. If they're employed by a company that isn't a passenger train operator they have to pay a lump of tax for their facilities each year. Thus I would suggest restrictions without compensation should be handled very carefully.
The tax you refer to is just short of £500. This is to be looked at in November, so staff/retired staff may receive a part refund depending on how long these restrictions go on for.
 
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LAX54

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I might add that, in the 70s, there seemed to be a way to avoid obligations. My facilities were available on Caledonian-MacBrayne - presumably because their employees had privilege travel on BR - but the restrictions circular said, under Caledonian Macbrayne, routes affected - a list all of them; dates applicable (for a particular year) 1st January - 31st December.
The only restriction I have on my card is Caledonian MacBrayne, (restriction 3) but even back in 1972 the circular always said 'restricted 1st Jan - 31st December', so in reality there was never any loss for me, those that joined BR in the years that followed, lost parts of the Network as it was taken apart, think the last to go for some was the London Underground, if I recall the ticket we used to get back in the 70's was 3p valid for 1 single journey :)
 

Merle Haggard

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Safeguarded staff travel facilities are enshrined in the Railways Act 1993 rather than being a solely contractual matter between themselves and their employer. If they're employed by a company that isn't a passenger train operator they have to pay a lump of tax for their facilities each year. Thus I would suggest restrictions without compensation should be handled very carefully.
I received an email from RSTL - I expect everyone did, if their email address was known to them - reinforcing the restrictions but also firmly stating that unused boxes on the 2019-2020 card could not be used after June 30. Possibly to forestall any argument, but your point about a tax refund is very valid in these circumstances.
 

Indigo2

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Did BR ever impose any restrictions on services expected to be particularly busy?
Yes indeed; the electronic restriction data used by online journey planners and booking engines even includes quite a few data fields and record types for the specific purpose of restricting PRIV travel, but they never seem to have been used in all the time (coming up on 10 years) that I've been working with fares.
 

6Gman

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I think it's quite reasonable to say "we are suspending Priv fares for leisure use under current circumstances". Given the announcement that The Jacobite is to restart in mid-July it seems unreasonable to extend any such measure into August.
 

yorkie

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I think it's quite reasonable to say "we are suspending Priv fares for leisure use under current circumstances".
But that isn't what is happening. Safeguarded pass holders are told they have to pay full fare (on certain TOCs) except in an "emergency"
 
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yorkie

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If safeguarded staff or active staff want to travel for leisure right now, we would have to buy the public fare. So effectively PRIV fares are suspended for now.
I'm not just talking "leisure" journeys but for shopping or any other purpose. For example I have a colleague who routinely travels with LNER from York to Scotland to assist her elderly mother; despite having safeguarded facilities she is apparently no longer able to do this; can LNER actually enforce this? Her mother's condition is slowly deteriorating, so at some point it may become an "emergency" but is it right that she cannot use her safeguarded pass (which I think is a retired dependent pass) unless it becomes an emergency? How would anyone be able to verify it was an emergency? It would be distressing for her to have to explain this.

It was bad enough for her coming across the awful "go home if you are not a key worker" sign and being questioned earlier during the 'lockdown' (there are no such signs and no such questioning now, of course).
Safeguarded staff travel facilities are enshrined in the Railways Act 1993 rather than being a solely contractual matter between themselves and their employer. If they're employed by a company that isn't a passenger train operator they have to pay a lump of tax for their facilities each year. Thus I would suggest restrictions without compensation should be handled very carefully.
That's my understanding and I've heard this from several reliable sources.

But I am not convinced anyone at RDG's Staff Travel department actually understands any of this.
 

yorkie

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Safeguarded retired or current staff or their dependents now need to discuss their personal circumstances with train companies before being authorised to use their passes? Surely not.
 

Haywain

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Safeguarded retired or current staff or their dependents now need to discuss their personal circumstances with train companies before being authorised to use their passes? Surely not.
In the current circumstances and with the current advice it may be appropriate to do so if the instructions are felt to be inappropriate for the individual's circumstances.
 

35B

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Safeguarded retired or current staff or their dependents now need to discuss their personal circumstances with train companies before being authorised to use their passes? Surely not.
Perhaps that discussion might actually be useful - without going into excessive detail - in helping the (ex-)employer understand the context of the journeys and give reasoned advice on whether the desired usage is inside or outside the restrictions that are being applied. Your friend strikes me as quite an unusual case, which general advice is poorly positioned to handle, and the purpose of whose journeys is at best debatably within the lockdown policies of either UK or Scottish governments. In that context, framing discussion in terms of entitlement under T&Cs strikes me as potentially counter-productive.

Ultimately, is is an individual's decision whether to seek to regularise a situation and, as you would advise anyone posting in the Disputes sub-forum, sitting fuming while not engaging with the operator is unlikely to get a positive result.
 

trentside

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It wouldn't be bad iff you could use your staff travel on weekends only when its quieter until the restrictions are lifted
But surely that goes against the current restrictions if you mean using the services for leisure purposes?
 

yorkie

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Just to be clear (in case anyone is in doubt), the restrictions in this context relate to the use of staff facilities; there are no restrictions on travel generally.
 

infobleep

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It would appear to me that the TOCs, or at least some TOCs, don't agree with the government on travel advice.
 
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Safeguarding doesn't guarantee the right to use the travel facilities it guarantees the right to have the facilities in the first place.
I'm not sure this is quite right. There must surely always have been a reasonable expectation that this type of facilities, which are statutory in nature, could, in reality, be used in line with the rules applicable when they were issued. They were subject to restrictions but again there has arguably always been a reasonable expectation that these would generally be no more restrictive than applied when issued.
If this was not the case, TOCs could have restricted, through administrative means, the use of facilities at any time since privatisation and effectively eliminated them altogether thereby frustrating the commercial requirement that they have under the Franchise Agreements to abide by the staff travel agreements and the statutory character of the facilities.
The only circumstances they could get out of the obligation is if there was a specific statutory bar on the facilities' use, which clearly is not the case.
(The above only applies to Safeguarded, including Retired Safeguarded, staff, not to TOC NEs.)
Perhaps some learned QCs might be engaged on this point?
 

Starmill

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Travel facilities are available in accordance with the wishes of the companies providing the travel, via the administration of the scheme, and in accordance with the scheme rules. As I understand it there aren't a lot of cases where leisure facilities are actually paid for? Some police staff in London have personal travel facilities that they pay for don't they? Is anyone else affected?

If tax has been paid for the benefit, and then benefit is then restricted, a tax rebate may be due. This is a matter between the passholder and HMRC. Presumably they'll be able to make a judgement on the matter in light of the new information.

I don't understand how government public health regulations, or public health guidance, change what the terms of staff travel are?

As I understand it most travel facilities are neither paid for nor safeguarded, and that those may be withdrawn at any time.
 
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CW2

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<snip> As I understand it there aren't a lot of cases where leisure facilities are actually paid for?
...
As I understand it most travel facilities are neither paid for nor safeguarded, and that those may be withdrawn at any time.
There are considerable numbers of Network Rail staff whose travel facilities are paid for each year. Likewise when I retired my understanding is that NR had to pay a fairly sizeable sum to purchase my travel facilities in perpetuity. So it's by no means a "free gift", it is paid for, has a value, and is taxable as a benefit in kind.
I don't know what percentage of employees (past and present) come into the safeguarded category, but I suspect it's many more than you think.
 

greyman42

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There are considerable numbers of Network Rail staff whose travel facilities are paid for each year. Likewise when I retired my understanding is that NR had to pay a fairly sizeable sum to purchase my travel facilities in perpetuity. So it's by no means a "free gift", it is paid for, has a value, and is taxable as a benefit in kind.
I don't know what percentage of employees (past and present) come into the safeguarded category, but I suspect it's many more than you think.
Employees who worked for BREL have to pay for their travel facilities. These people will be safeguarded.
 

Elecman

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Anyone who worked for any part of BR prior to Privatisation who isn’t/wasn’t a Passenger TOC employee pays tax on thier safeguarded travel facilities. As RDG charge a not inconsiderable sum that actuall6 costs the Passenger TOCs nothing to provide for those facilities to all safeguarded non passenger TOC staff
 
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Anyone who worked for any part of BR prior to Privatisation who isn’t/wasn’t a Passenger TOC employee pays tax on thier safeguarded travel facilities. As RDG charge a not inconsiderable sum that actuall6 costs the Passenger TOCs nothing to provide for those facilities to all safeguarded non passenger TOC staff
Whilst that is indeed true this isn’t about what it costs passenger TOCs to provide facilities to staff (whether safeguarded or not) its about making the limited passenger accommodation (with social distancing) available to paying passengers in line with usual RSTL restrictions about the travelling public getting priority.
 

yorkie

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Whilst that is indeed true this isn’t about what it costs passenger TOCs to provide facilities to staff (whether safeguarded or not) its about making the limited passenger accommodation (with social distancing) available to paying passengers in line with usual RSTL restrictions about the travelling public getting priority.
It's not about priority though; I know of a Safeguarded retired member of staff who has had to pay to travel on empty trains. No-one has actually checked the ticket though, but he wants to do the right thing, so has paid.

Looking at what knowledgeable contributors have said, both on and off this thread, I'm far from convinced the TOCs concerned are acting lawfully; the rail industry does have a poor record in complying with relevant laws, so this would not surprise me.
 

Merle Haggard

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Anyone who worked for any part of BR prior to Privatisation who isn’t/wasn’t a Passenger TOC employee pays tax on thier safeguarded travel facilities. As RDG charge a not inconsiderable sum that actuall6 costs the Passenger TOCs nothing to provide for those facilities to all safeguarded non passenger TOC staff
As you point out, the employer currently pays the RDG for passes, and I am under the impression that this money is distributed around the passenger TOCs.
As you also point out, it's a not inconsiderable sum and I think it raises two interesting questions - firstly, does that not make the employee a 'fare paying passenger'? and, secondly, at present no service is provided, so no charge should be raised - perhaps the money saved should be passed directly to the employee instead, as it's part of employment conditions.
 

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