Should trains wait if there is a platform alteration?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by George109, 6 Jun 2019.

  1. Mitchell Hurd

    Mitchell Hurd Member

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    What - they literally crossed the tracks???! They're blimin lucky they weren't killed. They should have been fined for that. No way would I ever cross a track to get to the train I'm supposed to get!

    Was their CCTV and staff about I presume?
     
  2. matt_world2004

    matt_world2004 Established Member

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    Yes and it was between 6 and 12 people did it. As they were doing it a Heathrow connect pulled into platform 4. There was no staff in the station but the driver of the hc must have got a fright.
     
  3. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think the last few posts illustrate quite succinctly how tricky a subject this is to get right, and really whether a "right answer" even exists. Even amongst railway staff we all have different opinions on what constitutes good customer service. I am sure we all do what we do in order to best serve our customers' needs, so that just reiterates the point there simply isn’t a "one size fits all" solution.

    During a recent station call, I blew my whistle and around 5-6 people started appearing on the stairs, so I waited for them to get on, by which time 3 more people appeared on the stairs, so I blew my whistle again to hurry them along. When they got to the train, one of them said to me that the train had just changed platform and there was a crowd of around 15 people still following them, so I made sure I waited for them all to get on before dispatching the train. That lost me around 90 seconds but it was 9am on a Saturday and I knew we would be able to recover most of it fairly easily and very unlikely to affect other services even if we did't. Similarly I held the train on a Sunday night recently as it was the last one of the day although that meant the train marginally failed PPM as a result and cost the company money. That to me is good customer service as I everyone got home safely without adversely affecting others and for a very small cost plenty of goodwill is generated.

    Had that first incident been at 7am on a weekday, there is no way I would have held the train for an extended period of time as there is simply no chance any of those 90 seconds could be recovered until at least the end of the morning peak. One minute will then quickly snowball into bigger delays as trains start picking up longer station dwell times with more people wanting to pile onto already crowded carriages. Before long trains would be arriving 5-6 minutes late and tens of thousands of passengers would have been affected, either that or something (possibly several even) is cancelled or run fast to relieve capacity on the line. (To give an example one of our recent 2-minute station overtime became 300+ minutes by the time everything settled with 40+ trains affected and 3 cancelled or run fast.) That to me is an unfortunate side effect of running more and more (and longer) trains and stretching infrastructure to the limit. That is also why rolling stock performance and operational efficiency attract ever more attention these days.

    If the incident had been at 7am on a weekday but my line had more slack in running times or lower service density I may have again been more willing to hold services. That is why I am fully of the belief that staff with local expertise are the best people to make such decisions and there should not be a blanket rule across board.

    What I will also say though is that I repeatedly read sometimes people don't care about delay minutes. That to me is the wrong attitude. Ultimate it is the most important aspect of what constitutes good customer service. People pay their fare for a punctual and reliable service. It is the bread and butter of what we do, if you have to strip it down to one aspect only. I suspect what people really meant when they said they don't care about delays is that delays are not the only thing in their consideration. We are in the job to provide good customer service and that encompasses more than just punctuality so if sometimes we have to suffer some delays to do that, then it may be more preferable to take the delay. It may be that on some people's patches reactionary delays is never a significant issue therefore they never needed to put too much emphasis on it but I can guarantee that they will matter a great deal when the service involved has to travel through locations like Windmill Bridge, Raynes Park and London Bridge, but again I am sure we can all draw from our own experiences to arrive at the correct decision for our own specific circumstances.
     
  4. initiation

    initiation Member

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    Bristol TM seems have the occasional last minute platform change rush. Last one I was on was perhaps two weeks ago. There was a unit already in our planned platform 8, it was turned off with no driver present. The other side of the island was occupied by another service so a change involving stairs was inevitable.

    The change only got announced 3 minutes before the scheduled departure time resulting in a mad platform/stairs/subway/platform rush. Yes they waited for everyone but the train then left late because the change hadn't been announced in advance. I know it needs joined up thinking but shouldn't be impossible...
     
  5. bionic

    bionic Member

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  6. option

    option Member

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    but for all those people that did not get on that train, the service has not run on time has it?
    They have been delayed by 30mins, which is in reality a considerable amount of time.


    Obvious to who, & at what time?
    Was it enough time for the CUSTOMERS to actually change platform?


    Dwell time should be different at different stations. Stations where it is impossible, or extremely rare, to have a platform alteration, then there's no need to change dwell times.
    Those stations where it happens a lot more frequently (& the industry should know this!), then you either need to add enough time for the majority of people to change platform, or get the platform data into the system much earlier.


    Are all those people that have already paid for the train but not yet on it nothing?
    Do they not matter?
     
  7. option

    option Member

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    Considering how close Blackfriars & London Bridge are, there is no reason at all as to why the London Bridge platform can't be set before the train leaves Blackfriars.
    That would give 5minutes notice.
     
  8. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    It was obvious to both the Driver and the Signaller.

    As a Driver, in this specific example, the platform alteration was obvious. In other situations is isn't. My question is that how long do you wait as a Driver ? If you don't know there is a platform alteration then you just carry out your normal dispatch duties. If you know there is an alteration then do you wait an additional amount of time or has the platform alteration already been given out to the passengers and they are already waiting on the platform so additional time isn't needed. How does the Driver know if the passengers have been informed or not ?

    Also specifically with 700's you can't see much past the immediate vicinity of the doors. You can't magically see downstairs to see if people are running to make a train or not. Once the doors are clear, close and go.

    Dwell times are not just about platform alterations. Should dwells be cut to the bones at your suggested locations but then ignore factors like platform accessibility ? There will always be people running for the train at the last minute

    Which is what I have already asked. Who is more important. Those on the train or those on the platform ? 40 people left behind or 800 on the train wanting connections elsewhere or just want to be on time.

    There are junctions to consider and if the platform is occupied, you cant set the route into it. Holding the train back so that operational flexibility can be given is the most sensible decision. Look at what happened at Lewisham when trains are allowed to foul junctions. Even at Blackfriars the other day a unit had a dragging brake as it left the station and completely shut down access to the station. The trains stacked up and caused masses of delays and cancellations.
     
  9. Chris M

    Chris M Member

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    A few years ago I was waiting for a northbound train (I can't remember where to) at Temple Meads, scheduled to depart from platform 7. However about 5 minutes before it was due to arrive an XC service terminated on platform 8. Realising that was going to be there a while I asked station staff where my train was now going to depart from, they radioed someone (station control or signallers, I guess) to ask and it was clear I was the first person to spot the issue. Fortunately on that occasion they were able to put the train I was waiting for on platform 5 (same island) and so the alternation was made with plenty of time but it would have been touch and go had we needed to move to a different island.
     
  10. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    Not caring about the financial transaction that is delay minutes is very different to not caring about delays. If I, or control, or the signaller moving up through the levels make a decision it should be motivated by getting the right result, not by concern over a financial penalty as a consequence.

    Thus if I do something that incurs a 3 minute delay at a location and therefore a delay minutes payment, but the train makes up the time without impacting on any other services I won't give a toss that it will still cost my employer a few quid.

    Being considerate to the impact of delay is not parking your train up on a critical single line chord for example and stopping the job while waiting for police attention to a passive non violent fare evader.
     
    Last edited: 7 Jun 2019
  11. sprunt

    sprunt Member

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    That would be fine, because the delay in that case would not be due to passengers, it would be due to the railway giving passengers incorrect information.

    It's extremely simple. A passenger who has arrived in plenty of time to catch a train, and proceeded to the indicated platform for that train should be able to catch that train. How the railway organsises that, as a paying passenger, is not my concern. You're the experts, that what I'm paying for.
     
  12. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Agreed, nor would I expect any front-line staff to understand the financial impact enough to take that into account when making decisions tbh. Nothing bugs me more than when people ask questions like, "How much is a delay minute worth?" No, just no.
     
  13. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    In my opinion, the train should always wait, for as long as necessary, in order to allow people who were in good time on the previously advertised platform (or main concourse if no platform was advertised, e.g. London Marylebone) to cross to the correct platform when there is a late notice platform alteration. Some people will take slightly longer than others to cross bridges, and some passengers may need to wait for lifts. It should be checked that everybody has made it over before the train can depart.

    Arguments about DOO or platform staff are moot - this is a necessary minimum level of service. The company must take responsibility to provide whatever staff and communication systems are needed to fulfil it.

    If the platform is altered but there is no step-free access as required between the platforms, or if there is an error or miscommunication which causes the train to depart without all of its waiting passengers, ideally this should be rectified by transporting those passengers in a taxi as provided by the company, unless the next available train will get them to their final destination there more quickly than a taxi could drive. If a delay cannot be avoided, the company must pay compensation in the normal way.
     
    Last edited: 7 Jun 2019
  14. 185143

    185143 Established Member

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    I'm currently on an SWR service. We're late a train has just terminated on the platform opposite, running over 60L. Doors on this train were re-opened to allow those passengers from the cancelled train to transfer across.

    Absolutely the right decision.
     
  15. muz379

    muz379 Established Member

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    At certain locations it is sometimes obvious that there has been a platform alteration and a last minute one . I can think of some stations with 2 bi directional platforms when you usually always use one platform in either direction , but your usual platform is occupied by a heavily delayed service , failed train , train waiting emergency services etc . In those circumstances I will generally wait an extra minute for people running between platforms .

    At bigger stations when you use different platforms regularly anyway it is less obvious that you have had a platform alteration . It then depends on the quality of station staff , or a passenger mentioning that there has been a last minute alteration . If I am aware again I will wait .

    Caveats to that are it would be extremely rare in the areas I sign for a 3 minute delay to result in a service being cancelled or run express later on , I certainly know of no instance of that happening . If that was a more common risk I would probably just carry out duties as normal unless instructed otherwise.
     
  16. etr221

    etr221 Member

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    My thought is that, when I go to catch a train, it is my responsibility to arrive at the station in adequate time to negotiate the station to the platform to do so; and the railway's to provide the required information as to which platform I need in a timely manner. And so I completely concur with the comments by Starmill and sprunt.

    To coin a phrase: 'your right to change things is your ability to notify the changes' - this whole thread is down to a failure of this - passengers should be informed of platforms, and any subsequent changes, in adequate time to get themselves to the right platform. And - when it comes to making changes - this time should be one of the considerations.
     
  17. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    I’m afraid this is a rather blinkered viewpoint, especially in the context of extremely busy “turn up and go” type operations like Thameslink.

    If a train waits for even a few minutes you will immediately end up with a queue of full and standing trains in no man’s land, with all the attendant risk of egresses being pulled etc. Safety has to come before convenience and there are very definite safety implications of holding trains outside stations unnecessarily.

    If I was a passenger on a train which was on time I’d be pretty peeved if my journey was then delayed for the sake of a few stragglers. If you start holding TL trains in or near the core you will have delayed literally *thousands* of people in next to no time.

    The priority always has to be to try to maintain the service for the benefit of the majority, even if this means inconveniencing a minority. Dynamic decisions like platform alterations are a means of doing this, no different to terminating trains early and skipping stops to make up time.

    Not moot at all, there are good operational reasons underlining why it’s virtually impossible to get trains to wait in some circumstances. The fact you and others on this board are unwilling or unable to accept those facts doesn’t change them.

    It’s not just you of course - but I’m always surprised by threads like this where people who are supposedly rail enthusiasts seem unable to accept matters of operational reality, when when the explanations come from people who have first hand experience.

    Just look at some of the suggestions on this thread - signals being thrown back in drivers’ faces, signallers calling drivers and instructing them to wait?! The mind boggles - totally unrealistic on the modern railway.

    Again - this is OTT - in most cases they will simply be able to wait for the next trains. Are you happy for your fares to increase to pay for taxis to ferry passengers about?!
     
    Last edited: 8 Jun 2019
  18. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    Absolutely no way this could be done!

    For one thing if TL services are being routed to London Bridge platforms off the TL platform 4 and 5 “island” (which is only done as a last resort during times of severe disruption) they have to be interwoven with SE services which run at very high frequency in the peaks.

    For another, signal sections are very short in this area - there must be a dozen or more signals between Blackfriars and London Bridge.

    It’s an unfortunate aspect of the design of London Bridge that the height from platform to concourse level is considerable and it takes several minutes to move from one island to another. If a TL service was routed onto P3 and then made to wait 5-10 minutes in the peak for passengers to go down and back up, the SE service would be wrecked in no time.
     
    Last edited: 8 Jun 2019
  19. sprunt

    sprunt Member

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    It hasn't been delayed "for the sake of a few stragglers". It's been delayed for the sake of the railway's ability to inform paying customers where they need to be to catch the train they've arrived at the station in plenty of time to catch.
     
  20. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    I once even witnessed a passenger use the passcom because there were people still trying to board when the doors had already started to close.

    I probably wouldn't use it if there were people trying to board who couldn't, although I might do if there were people trying to leave the train who were unable to. Still, it surprises me that this doesn't happen more frequently.
     
  21. Peter C

    Peter C Established Member

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    I think that trains should be held for a few minutes if there has been a platform alteration which is, say, on the other side of a station (e.g. at a terminus (say the size of Paddington or Waterloo - this is a purely hypothetical station) when people who are catching a train from P1 and then it is moved to P20 - a far way away). However, if there has been an alteration and it is on P2 instead of P1, it shouldn't be held for any amount of time. The distance between the two platforms is so small that everyone has enough time to move and catch the train.
    If a train is at somewhere such as Oxford, where a train is due in on P4 and comes in on P3 (probably would never happen but could as P3 and P4 are bi-directional), it should only be held for a short amount of time. Purely because it would take people a while to get across the footbridge.

    Just my thoughts.
    P.S. I have never seen a platform alteration, but I believe that I am allowed to have my own thoughts and ideas.

    -Peter
     
  22. chris_in_salop

    chris_in_salop Member

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    As an ordinary passenger, I could ask: Why are platform alterations such a common thing anyway?

    (Of course I realise that the big picture answer is to do with every last drop of capacity being squeezed, as the railway is forced to fit several gallons into a pint pot, never mind a quart)

    But I do have a horror of last minute platform changes at Birmingham New Street, especially if it's at the A end of the station. I wonder if it could even be viewed as discriminatory. I'm young and fit, so racing up and down stairs is not really a problem for me, but I'd dread it happening to my elderly mother, racked with arthritis and not able to walk anywhere quickly.
     
  23. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    Most likely it won’t be delayed at all, for the reasons outlined above, if you’d care to read them.

    I give up!
     
  24. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    In my experience they aren't that common.
    I'm afraid that what we are seeing is a few people not looking at the bigger picture and not realising/accepting that to delay a train, even by one minute, at a major station for what can only really be a small number of people is very likely to impact on many more people "down the line" when that train loses it's path and/or delays other trains.
    And it certainly is NOT rail staff doing it on purpose!
     
  25. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    The actual reason for the alteration might not be capacity-related, as it could happen for a variety of reasons - issue with a train in the booked platform being the most likely, but it could also be because the signalman has identified a need to make an adjustment in order to make best use of the track capacity available at the time.

    However the reason for small delays being critical are possibly two-fold. Firstly as you quite rightly say parts of the network are simply carrying many more trains than they ideally should be, in order to meet rising demand, so there will be extensive reactionary delays. And secondly in many cases things are planned very tightly, such that small delays will have wide knock-on effects, or there's no slack in the system for them to "ride out" - in other words the late train will continue running around late until there's some kind of intervention like turning short or missing stops. In some cases this is unavoidable as again it's a symptom of the network running at capacity, but in other cases it's because things are planned too tightly with respect to train or crew diagrams.
     
    Last edited: 8 Jun 2019
  26. Bikeman78

    Bikeman78 Member

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    Have a trip to Belgium. It happens frequently there. A lot of their platforms are much lower which makes it easier of course.
     
  27. johnnychips

    johnnychips Established Member

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    Just a quick query for the drivers on here, who have been so informative. Do you have a ‘timesheet’ for your duties that says, for example, ‘arrive Doncaster platform 8 1720, depart 1722’ or don’t you know what platform you are expecting to arrive at at larger stations?

    I picked Doncaster because if you were expecting to arrive in 8 and got moved to 4 it wouldn’t be a problem as it’s the same ‘island’. However if you’d been moved to 3B, passengers would have to use the subway, so you would know there might be issues depending on how late the platform change was given.
     
    Last edited: 8 Jun 2019
  28. Tomnick

    Tomnick Established Member

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    No, traincrew diagrams (the “timesheet” that you refer to) give no indication of the booked platform, or at least none that I’ve ever seen do. The first we know (officially) is when we see the route indicator, and as long as the platform’s long enough and gives access to where we need to go next, it’s all good.

    The bulk of the discussion on here seems to focus on the need to wait for passengers to make their way across (not unreasonable) when there’s a short-notice platform alteration, and finding ways to notify whoever is responsible for dispatching the train so that they know to wait and for how long. I’d much rather see more effort going into notifying platform alterations much sooner, rather than (as examples above, and my own experiences, suggest is the norm at many locations) waiting for the train description to step as the train passes the last signal before the station. I guess that it’s a combination of signalmen controlling larger and larger areas with a reliance on ARS, and cutting station staffing levels so that there’s less likely to be a convenient single point of contact to coordinate it? I don’t know - but we seem to manage to usually get it right at a busy medium-sized station, so it can clearly be done...
     
  29. johnnychips

    johnnychips Established Member

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    ^ I do appreciate your excellent and thoughtful reply.
     
  30. iphone76

    iphone76 Member

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    Our schedule cards do include platform information for all our duties. Sometimes this can change due to train faults / signal failures, etc. but they are usually adhered to.
     

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