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Railway switchboard is no more

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Frontera2

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Hi,

Apologies if this has been reported elsewhere..

The Railway Switchboard: 0870 000 5151 has now closed down, meaning that apart from NRE there is no longer one number people can call for the industry / be put through to wherever requested etc.

Likewise if you're a member of staff, you'll no longer be able to dial 100 and ask to be put through to xyz station...

I personally think this is a backward step. If one of my team wants to arrange some assistance or a taxi at a station operated by another TOC, no longer will they be able to go straight to that station (via the switchboard) instead they will have to ring the TOC Control, get the number from them and then ring it = more and unnecessary calls to TOC controls and delayed Customer Service Response.
 
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bunnahabhain

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That's dreadful! I've always found the Switchboard to be useful especially when on train so that I can contact various stations. Bizarrely in my original phone my number labelled as "Manchester Piccadilly" rang through to the Network Rail duty control manager in the control room there who was very helpful in getting me the right number for the station supervisor for a wheelchair assist!
 

185

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Oh poop, used it for years.

There was a security issue for the booking offices, but it was an integral part of one, single railway which bypassed any silly company-coloured hurdles.
 

AlterEgo

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RIP switchboard also. Seems a false economy to direct everything through a TOC control, which is itself a telephone bottleneck.
 

theageofthetra

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Lots of complaints from station staff at my TOC over this idiotic and poorly advertised decision.
 

whizzylizzy

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The internal Railway telephony infrastructure from the BR days is called Railnet and all Stations, network rail and signal boxes were/are connected. There has been no investment in bringing this Infrastructure into the 21st century and will no longer be a supported product. Railnet users have been asked to seek alternative telephony systems. Each TOC will be doing their own thing meaning there will eventually be less jointed fixed telephony in the rail industry. This is probably partially the reason behind the closing of the Switchboard, along with the improvement in Mobile comms. It is no longer simple to keep the same telephone number of a Station when it transfers between Franchises, when Franchises now use different Telcos .
 

Agent_c

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Seems like an easily solvable problem that's being used as an excuse. The stations (with a handful of exceptions) are network rail property and part of the station. Make the line/number owned by NR. No need to worry about TOC switches
 

HSTEd

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The cynical part of me thinks this is just a ploy to further fragment the railway and make any attempt to return to a unified model more difficult and expensive.
 

Mike395

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Stranded Individual, Location Known - it's a way of selling (only Anytime) tickets remotely if a third party is able to pay at a different ticket office.
 

yorkie

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Blindtraveler

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Hmmm, I fear this will make life even more complicated for disabled travelers on the all to regular occasions passenger assist screw up and stations are left sorting the resultant mess out. A sad day when an already fragmented system makes a further step towards total unharmonisation.
 

Shaw S Hunter

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I would say the real issue stems from laziness on the part of the TOCs. Pretty well all operational staff these days are issued with a company mobile but rarely, if ever, do they have any numbers pre-programmed into them. More likely staff are issued with a separate paper, possibly laminated, list of "useful" numbers and left to get on with it. It would be much better if these "useful" numbers were already in phones when issued. And any supplementary list would be tailored to purely depot-specific needs (local manager, etc).
 

davetheguard

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I didn't know it still existed! It would have been very helpful at times!

You could ring through from the BR internal phone system to the London Underground one too at one time; I once had cause to ring through from Oxford station to a station ticket office on the Bakerloo Line while tracking down a purse left behind there by a passenger.
 

TheEscapist_

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Was very useful used it quite a lot. Already missing it at work!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

ag51ruk

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A consequence of this is that there is no longer a railway emergency operator who can direct 999 calls and report your exact location - emergency calls will now go direct to the normal 999 operator, who will not have the location details of all ETD phones.
 

AngusH

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emergency calls will now go direct to the normal 999 operator, who will not have the location details of all ETD phones.


Normally all telecoms operators are required to pass location information for each line to the 999 system (unless not technically feasible).

I'd be surprised if they got an exemption for this?
 
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Frontera2

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You could ring through from the BR internal phone system to the London Underground one too at one time; I once had cause to ring through from Oxford station to a station ticket office on the Bakerloo Line while tracking down a purse left behind there by a passenger.

You still can... Prefix the LUL autophone number with 0678..

You can also reach the TfL switchboard by calling 0678 100
 

Dai Corner

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Silly question, but isn't there a railway telephone directory where you can look the numbers up and then dial yourself rather than go through the switchboard?
 

Carntyne

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I wouldn't be calling a Control office to get a phone number if I'm honest. Daft and wasting their time. Surely most TOCs have address books for their own stations/departments.
 

AndyW33

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Surely most TOCs have address books for their own stations/departments.

They may well do, but what about CrossCountry, for example, who have zero stations of their own, but call at large numbers of stations managed by other franchises? How big does the address book for a Birmingham-based AXC guard need to be?
 
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Silly question, but isn't there a railway telephone directory where you can look the numbers up and then dial yourself rather than go through the switchboard?

far too much like sense

the perpetuation of switchboards mean that people never learn to use the directories and management can neglect to update and disseminate on-call lists ...

great job creation scheme for staff groups likely to be ocvered by certain party politically active unions though ...
 

CyrusWuff

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Silly question, but isn't there a railway telephone directory where you can look the numbers up and then dial yourself rather than go through the switchboard?

Up until the early 2000s there was indeed a (printed) railway phone book, and it was also possible to look up details on the old (text-based) reservations system. Station phone numbers also appeared in "The Manual", but weren't routinely updated if they changed.

Since the move to Knowledgebase, however, that information has been removed and the only option has been to go through the Switchboard or to contact the relevant Control to get a number...
 

Dai Corner

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Up until the early 2000s there was indeed a (printed) railway phone book, and it was also possible to look up details on the old (text-based) reservations system. Station phone numbers also appeared in "The Manual", but weren't routinely updated if they changed.

Since the move to Knowledgebase, however, that information has been removed and the only option has been to go through the Switchboard or to contact the relevant Control to get a number...

Let's hope the last shift on the switchboard didn't throw away all the lists of numbers and whoever manages Knowledgebase gets hold of them, puts them on there and ensures they are kept up to date. Perhaps a redundant switchboard operator or supervisor could be redeployed to do the job.
 

MP33

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I once when invited on a day out representing my employer in the early days of Railtrack, visited the Railway switchboard at Waterloo. The building from the front was similar to 10 Downing Street in that being on sloping ground towards the back it was a lot bigger inside than from the frontage. We were shown some Telecoms equipment that was kept as emergency back up, my it was old.

I believe originally, due to the Post Office monopoly. The network could only be used to call Railway premises. When I first started work with a nationalised industry. There were two telephones on every desk, one for internal calls and one for external calls. External calls that were non local had to go through the switchboard. At going home time 16.45, all external calls were terminated no matter who you were.
 
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