RMT Unhappy Over New Penalty Fares (Silverlink)

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Mojo

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BBCNews said:
Row over new penalties on trains

Staff in dispute with a train operator are refusing to issue penalty fares due to be introduced this weekend.

Union members at Silverlink, which runs trains between London, Bedford, Milton Keynes and Northampton, said an offer to work new systems was not acceptable.

"Members are angry as penalty fares put them at risk and hit commissions on tickets," Rail Maritime and Transport union general secretary Bob Crow said.

Silverlink was not available for comment on Monday.

Thirty-nine out of 70 union members at Silverlink voted for industrial action, Mr Crow said.

Call for negotiation

Silverlink abolished its penalty fares system in 1999 and since then passengers without tickets have just been asked to purchase one when discovered by inspectors.

The train operator now wants to reintroduce a penalty fares system but the union said it is doing this without consulting them on a fair payment for the inspectors asked to implement it.

Mr Crow said: "We want to negotiate on the system to ensure our members do not miss out on ticket commissions if penalty fares are imposed.

"We also want to ensure safety systems are in place to protect them as passengers will not be pleased to have to pay a penalty for not purchasing a ticket.

"If the company really believed it could get away with that without offering a penny piece in return, our members have told them in no uncertain terms that they were wrong.

"Silverlink now have a simple choice: They can either get back round the table and negotiate sensibly or they can issue their penalty fares themselves - because our members certainly won't be doing it."
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Nick W

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I hope the inspectors win. It's nice to know that if you really have to make a train, but are delayed getting to a station and don't have time to endure the ticket queue, you can buy one on the train.

Shame One Railways now has pfares on IC trains, even though a conductor is bound to get to everyone.
 

Lewisham2221

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Nick W said:
I hope the inspectors win. It's nice to know that if you really have to make a train, but are delayed getting to a station and don't have time to endure the ticket queue, you can buy one on the train.

Shame One Railways now has pfares on IC trains, even though a conductor is bound to get to everyone.
Yes, there are times when, for whatever reason, it is impractical to buy a ticket before you travel. I very much doubt this is what Silverlink are trying to stop. On the other hand, there are comparitively large numbers of people who blatantly try to get away with not purchasing a ticket.

In one case, I was waiting in a queue at my local station to pre-purchase tickets for a journey I was making in a few weeks time. There were 2 staff working in the booking office, and the queue was unusually long and the service was unusually slow. It became clear that many people waiting in the queue wanted to buy tickets for travel within the next 30 minutes, so the station made arrangements with the train manager/conductor on every train to allow passengers to purchase the regular range of fares such as Savers etc on the train, as opposed to only being able to purchase the more expensive, full open fare (Ok, so it's not exactly Penalty Fares but the sentiment is the same).

Another time (well actually many times, but I'll just focus on the one time here) I was returning home from Manchester, already having a CDR for my journey. I arrived at Piccadilly about 20 minutes before my train was due to leave. The train was displayed on the main departure board, but it was clear to anybody that it wasn't departing immediately - there was a 323 in front of it and the information screen on the platform was only displaying the details of the stopping service at the time (The stopper was due to depart 10 minutes before my Voyager). Once we were on our way, less than 10 minutes into the journey there was a ticket check. The number of people in the same coach as me who had boarded the train before me, or significantly before the train was due to depart and failed to produce a ticket, proceeding to purchase a full-fare single to their destination was ridiculous. It was blatantly obvious that the vast majority were trying to take advantage of VT's low level of ticket checks on Northbound trains to get away with purchasing just a single ticket if they were checked on their return journey.
 

yorkie

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Lewisham2221 said:
....to get away with purchasing just a single ticket if they were checked on their return journey.
They must be very tight to do that, because for walk-on tickets most returns are typically only around 5-10p cheaper than singles!
 

Tomnick

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I'm all in favour of penalty fares if it reduces the proportion of passengers who treat the railway as a free service! Might make it cheaper for the rest of us then!
 

Lewisham2221

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yorkie said:
They must be very tight to do that, because for walk-on tickets most returns are typically only around 5-10p cheaper than singles!
There's always the chance of not getting checked at all on the return journey as well though, depending on the service and where you're going. Southbound WCML trains not having checks until the long gap between Stoke and Watford for example.
 

Nick W

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I bet if they had conductors on all trains, the cost per life saved would be less than other measures like TPWS, new bridges to replace crossings, etc. A conductor could help a passenger needing emergency attention for example as a ONE conductor did a year ago.

Meanwhile the conductor could check and sell tickets on all trains so penalty fares would be unneccesary, and people wouldn't be able to travel for free like Lewisham's case.
 

TicketMan

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Nick W said:
I bet if they had conductors on all trains, the cost per life saved would be less than other measures like TPWS, new bridges to replace crossings, etc. A conductor could help a passenger needing emergency attention for example as a ONE conductor did a year ago.
How is that relevant to a discussion on penalty fares?
 

yorkie

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Nick W said:
I bet if they had conductors on all trains, the cost per life saved would be less than other measures like TPWS, new bridges to replace crossings, etc. A conductor could help a passenger needing emergency attention for example as a ONE conductor did a year ago.
On what basis do you bet that? Without researching it myself I'd bet that's not the case. Also I agree with TM, it has no relevance here. Silverlink County trains do have guards.
 

TicketMan

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Don't want to pick holes but Silverlink have conductors not guards - they have only 2 guards left.

Back to the subject of Penalty Fares, I am fully in support of the idea - PFs have reduced ticketless travel in the West Mids by half since Central's high profile campaign was introduced. (Source: http://www.centraltrains.co.uk click on 'News Room')
However, I also believe that adequate remuneration and protection systems should be in place for the people who go out and issue the PFs - a company can't just change working practises without consulting staff representatives and expect everything to go smoothly
 

Lewisham2221

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Nick W said:
I bet if they had conductors on all trains, the cost per life saved would be less than other measures like TPWS, new bridges to replace crossings, etc. A conductor could help a passenger needing emergency attention for example as a ONE conductor did a year ago.

Meanwhile the conductor could check and sell tickets on all trains so penalty fares would be unneccesary, and people wouldn't be able to travel for free like Lewisham's case.
Both Virgin West Coast and Cross Country have train managers etc. on every train, they just don't always get round to doing full ticket checks more than once or twice in the journey.
 

Nick W

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Lewisham2221 said:
Both Virgin West Coast and Cross Country have train managers etc. on every train, they just don't always get round to doing full ticket checks more than once or twice in the journey.
Often the conductor doesn't get to everyone on the Felixstowe line. At times they've had a guard to do the doors and a conductor to do tickets without interuption. I still wonder why drivers can't do doors so the conductor doesn't have to pause the ticket selling for each stop.
 

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I think that's partly down to the problem of dispatching a train safely, especially on Silverlink routes.

As for PFs, the idea of them is great. Stops the free-loaders cheating the system.

As for checking on services themselves, I've been on many, many trains where a check has not been done on a service where the time between stops is circa 20+ minutes. Indeed, my trip to Loughborough in May could have been at least £1.50 cheaper, more likely £2 cheaper. However I made sure I bought a ticket to cover me on the leg from Nuneaton to Leicester. Could have saved myself that money, walked up to the ticket machine/Excess Fares window and got the single to Loughborough from there. Not that I intended to do so, I'd have had that on my conscience forever. The fact is though that I could have done so. I figured that the checks between Nuneaton and Leicester would be tighter than they were, but no.

I've also been on so many VWC services between Piccadilly and Stockport without a check it's shocking. Worst case for me is Swansea to London, with a change at Didcot Parkway, without a ticket check (ticket office was closed, was waiting to purchase my ticket on-board/before boarding). Obviously I bought a single to go back, saved myself around 65p. Had a check on the way home, that's for sure!
 

Mojo

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Nick W said:
Often the conductor doesn't get to everyone on the Felixstowe line. At times they've had a guard to do the doors and a conductor to do tickets without interuption. I still wonder why drivers can't do doors so the conductor doesn't have to pause the ticket selling for each stop.
Because the driver can't see the doors, as the line isn't set up with Mirrors or Monitors.
A problem on Silverlink 321s, especially those running the Milton Keynes - Euston locals is the short time between stops, and the guard has to return to the rear cab to release the doors.
It's interesting that there seems to be 2 types (that I've seen anyway) of Guard operation
1. Driver opens & closes doors, using buzzers from the guard
2. Guard opens & closes the doors
I can see the advantages of the former, where it comes to revenue checks, the guard can't get to a door panel or the rear cab, but the latter offers a safeguard if a driver should stop at the wrong stop marker and release the doors where the train isn't in the platform correctly.
 
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