Shutting doors while passengers are boarding - how low can EMT sink?

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Old Yard Dog

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Today I was travelling on business from Little Sutton to Derby via Ellesmere Port, Warrington BQ and Crewe.

The 1639 from Warrington to Crewe was delayed and pulled into platform 5 about 1706. Several passengers were stood by the doors at the front hoping to make the cross platform connection on to the 1707 to Derby from platform 4.

The conductor on the EMT train let the first passenger on and then closed the door on me as I was boarding, trapping my bag. He barked at me to remove my bag, which I did, then closed the door on me, leaving myself and several other passengers marooned on the platform. With the Trent Valley line disrupted, I have no choice but to wait 59 minutes at Crewe for the next train.

I appreciate that TOCs have punctuality targets to meet, but surely there are occasions when a little common sense has to be applied? How much time would it have taken him to re-open the doors to let half a dozen or more of his customers on? About 30 seconds which the driver could easily make up.

This just confirms my long-held view that EMT is the worst TOC in the country (gross overcrowding on the Crewe – Derby line on Saturdays, the loss of Crewe – Derby – Nottingham – Skegness through workings, poor connections at Kettering, uncomfortable carriages with little legroom, etc etc).

Why are EMT so customer hostile? Most conductors with most TOCs will reopen doors to let prospective customers on (particularly ladies!). Closing the doors while customers are trying to board isn't just discourteous, it is potentially very dangerous.
 
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gsnedders

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Reminds me of story from my father: changing between two VTWC services at Crewe, both on-time Pendolinos, the guard closed the doors while there were still a number of people still boarding, him by the door with a broken arm. Apparently the platform staff just shouted at them to just hold the door and get on—something my father found hard to do with a suitcase and a broken arm. (Of course, that advice shouldn't have been given, etc.)

But, of course, my father went along with it: from his viewpoint, he had an Advanced Single, and he wouldn't have missed a train due to late running, so presumably he'd have to buy an extortionate on-the-spot Single to replace it at a cost of hundreds. How does one prove you failed to board because the door was shut on you for the sake of an Advanced ticket? You can of course argue they should've moved down to the other end of the coach (the adjacent door on the next coach was equally mobbed, AIUI), but on a packed platform that's slow and isn't at all obvious to dispatch staff there's still people trying to board, if they try to dispatch while you're on your way.
 
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I know some EMT guards who would most certainly not have done this and I am firmly of the belief that the vast majority would not have acted in this way.

Have you lodged a complaint so the matter can be investigated? If not, please do: http://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk/information/contact-us/

You can make that guards nationally not just EMT. It is certainly not an action I would ever make and would be appalled if I saw it happen. You don't intentionally shut doors on people.
 

Mugby

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Living in the heart of EMT land, I regularly note that they appear to have a fair number of staff who seem relatively new to the job. The consequence is that some simply don't have the acumen to apply to such situations as described.

Given time, experience and service, they'll probably improve - if they decide to make the railway their career!
 

LowLevel

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I wouldn't shut the door physically on someone but that service flow from the North is a pain - it doesn't make the minimum connection time at Crewe (10 mins) into the Derby train and yet plenty of folk tend to chuck themselves headlong into a sprint to try and throw themselves on to it as it is a regular late runner and what seems a reasonable time to get from one to the other frequently is not.

It won't get any easier if the TOCs get their way and the Derby service goes self dispatch as the guard won't be able to see any runners once they've committed themselves to going.

I don't object too much to letting the odd person jump in but more than that you're sitting with the signal off to maintain a connection that was never a connection anyway.
 

Tetchytyke

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If the hustle alarm was sounding then your bag shouldn't have been anywhere near the doors in the first place. It isn't a valid connection from that train, so it's not a case of holding a connection either.

That said, it doesn't sound like the safest way of despatching the train, and it is extremely frustrating to see a train you could have caught shoot off into the sunset.
 

hounddog

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If the hustle alarm was sounding then your bag shouldn't have been anywhere near the doors in the first place.

What? If passengers were anywhere near the doors the guard shouldn't have been closing the doors. After all we keep being told they're petrified of going to prison in such circumstances.
 

scrapy

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Seems odd that both a dispatcher would give the tip and the guard would close the doors when passengers are boarding (alighting I can possibly understand as you cannot always see people still on the train) and those passengers still didn't have time to board before the hustle alarm had finished sounding. Sounds more like the train was clear the tip has been given and someone or even several people have heard either a whistle or the hustle alarm and made a last minute dash and thrown themselves in a closing door. I would suggest reporting the matter to EMT for investigation.
 
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Tetchytyke

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What? If passengers were anywhere near the doors the guard shouldn't have been closing the doors.

It's a Byelaws offence to attempt to board a train when the doors are closing. Separately Tyne and Wear Metro (which is DOO, and slightly different Byelaws) have taken a tough stance on this recently, and they're prosecuting passengers who do it.

My suspicion is that the despatcher had given the tip, the guard had started to close the doors, and passengers had heard the whistle and hustle alarm and threw themselves at the closing doors. Bags don't tend to get trapped unless you're throwing the bag in front of you...
 
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Sprinter153

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How much time would it have taken him to re-open the doors to let half a dozen or more of his customers on? About 30 seconds which the driver could easily make up.

Why are EMT so customer hostile? Most conductors with most TOCs will reopen doors to let prospective customers on (particularly ladies)

I would absolutely never close the doors whilst passengers are attempting to board (although I will encourage them to use more than the obligatory one door ) , but the above is what gets said every time late runners turn up when I have secured the train and am about to give the ready to start. It's drummed into us by competence managers that when you've started the dispatch procedure you don't stop it.

In particular your 30 seconds becomes more than that - I've got to re-release (contacting the driver to do so on a lot of stock!), come to a clear understanding with the dispatch staff if provided, take first tip, close doors, perform train safety check, take second tip, close local door and buzz buzz. And that's if nobody else turns up which if I'm not being 'customer (passenger) hostile' I should let on too!

I am more lenient with late night and particularly last services, and careful at stations where the next train is much later, but there comes a time when the train dispatch has to start and the train has to leave.

It's not a guaranteed connection as others have stated, and it's probably also 'customer (passenger) hostile' to the passengers on board to keep them waiting whilst I re-open and close the doors various times, unless of course I have instruction from Control.

Finally of course, with regard to 'particularly ladies' - the gender of the person shouldn't matter. I've carried as many vulnerable males as females.
 

Bookd

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This happens infrequently on SWT as well. I was waiting to board a service in the evening peak once and the guard tried to close the doors while people were still getting off.

I have certainly known cases, both in the rush hour and late evening at such as Richmond, when the whistle and hustle alarms are sounded when there are people still fighting through the crowds to get off - this should be obvious from those on the platform waiting to board when the disembark is completed. Of course the timetable is important but if there is not enough dwell time to board and leave then the train is destined to be late.
 

Robertj21a

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Just to add a bit of balance, I've always found EMT staff to be among the better ones, very far from being 'the worst TOC in the country' [really ??]
 

Kneedown

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Once the doors have been closed EMT Guards are instructed not to reopen them, therefore to do so would leave themselves open disciplinary action.
The geography of the Crewe to Derby line, traction mostly used (153) and tight timings make it very difficult indeed to make up any lost time. Indeed, between Crewe and Stoke it is often difficult to keep time.
If, as you say, the Conductor shut the doors while you were in the doorway then that is indeed very naughty, however are 100% certain it was the Conductor who shut the door? Did the hustle alarm sound? It is quite commonplace for the previous boader to catch the door close button with an elbow or bag, shutting the door on the following passenger.
I completely agree that the rolling stock is inadequate for the route. I live in hope that the DDA will neccessitate the doubling up of 153's by 2019 (?) which will require extra rolling stock, but the stock has to come from somewhere, and it's in very short supply at the moment.
EMT can only do the best they can with the limited resources available.
 
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Southwest

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Living in the heart of EMT land, I regularly note that they appear to have a fair number of staff who seem relatively new to the job. The consequence is that some simply don't have the acumen to apply to such situations as described.

What a beautifully eloquent way of calling someone a jobsworth!;)
 

nottsnurse

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Living in the heart of EMT land, I regularly note that they appear to have a fair number of staff who seem relatively new to the job. The consequence is that some simply don't have the acumen to apply to such situations as described.

Weird. I too live in "the heart of EMT land" (Nottingham) and don't recognise this at all. I commute regularly between Nottingham and Leicester and find the EMT staff very professional, courteous and willing to assist with all manner of things.

Many a time, when ward handover has overrun, I've found myself running towards Leicester Station and have been let on the train at the guard's (local?) door, after the rest have been closed.
 

cjmillsnun

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Just to add a bit of balance, I've always found EMT staff to be among the better ones, very far from being 'the worst TOC in the country' [really ??]

Indeed. I think anyone who has seen the latest DOO thread has a very good idea of which TOC may well be the worst. ;)

I have a lot of time for EMT. When I've used them they have been efficient and all staff have been courteous, polite and proactive in their attitude to customer service. Something I have noticed on SWT as well.
 
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The geography of the Crewe to Derby line, traction mostly used (153) and tight timings make it very difficult indeed to make up any lost time. Indeed, between Crewe and Stoke it is often difficult to keep time.

I used that service a few times around 6 years ago.
The guard apologized at Derby for the late running of that service - less than a minute!!!
The acceleration of the 153 was poor, 0 - 50 in 6 to 7 minutes +, so once it got speed up it was time to stop at the next station. Either clapped or poor choice of train for that route.
 

Taunton

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I've had this in a couple of places around London and would like to understand what the official line is, particularly at connecting points where a large number of passengers are coming from another train.

What is the official line for those passengers who haven't even managed to make their exit by the time the alarm sounds? Crowds at the door can cause this for those coming from down the saloon. Should we be surcharged for going on to the next station and back?

A regular issue with the Underground is "extended station stops due to heavy passenger flow", which seems to imply that it is official to wait until passenger movement at the doors had finished.

With the move to more performance-based targets, this seems to have been forgotten. Is the official procedure now "Sound the alarm and slam the doors regardless".

Regarding the various sounds, it was long the practice that the guards whistle meant "Hurry up, about to go". Now it seems the hustle alarm, which many would take to be the same, means (at least in the interpretation of rail staff) "Stand back, you are too late". When did this officially change?

Once the doors have been closed EMT Guards are instructed not to reopen them, therefore to do so would leave themselves open disciplinary action.
This just shows that such TOCs have completely divorced themselves from the reality that they are dealing with paying customers. If the train is unable to keep time without slamming along with minimum stop time then they have applied their service incompetently. If a bus company scheduled, and expected to operate, their bus timetable on the basis that the driver must use full throttle at all times they would put the road in a moment.
 
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ComUtoR

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This just shows that such TOCs have completely divorced themselves from the reality that they are dealing with paying customers. If the train is unable to keep time without slamming along with minimum stop time then they have applied their service incompetently.

Each time a TOC adds minutes to the timetable to aid better dwell times etc at stations they get accused of padding the service. Its a no win situation for the TOC or the passengers.

How much dwell time would you have at a station and would you have a policy where doors are reopened for a passenger ? Are you willing to accept the delay attribution for it ?
 

plymothian

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Guards at certain TOCs can't use the whistle to hurry people up any more as it is deemed to cause stress and panic and increase PTI incidences. It now means nothing more 'I've acknowledged the tip', or 'too late'.
 

3141

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It's a Byelaws offence to attempt to board a train when the doors are closing. Separately Tyne and Wear Metro (which is DOO, and slightly different Byelaws) have taken a tough stance on this recently, and they're prosecuting passengers who do it.

Well, I never knew that before. And I doubt that most passengers know it. They probably think, like me, that it’s a warning that the doors are about to close, and not an order to abandon hope of getting on the train.

Obviously, there has to be a specified minimum time for making a connection to another service, and at a station like Crewe it will be longer than the normal five minutes. But if you’re arriving on one train whose schedule makes possible a connection in less than the minimum time for that station, it is natural to hope to make it, and it isn’t reasonable to suppose that passengers will say to themselves, “I cannot officially make that connection, so I will not even think of attempting to do so, but instead will happily look forward to spending over an hour waiting for the next official connection.” They’ll still try to make it even if the arriving train is late and the connection is tight.

My suspicion is that the despatcher had given the tip, the guard had started to close the doors, and passengers had heard the whistle and hustle alarm and threw themselves at the closing doors. Bags don't tend to get trapped unless you're throwing the bag in front of you...

I don’t “throw” my bag onto a train, but if there’s a narrow doorway as on a class 153 or class 158, or if it’s a wider doorway but it’s partly obstructed by standing passengers, then I’ll hold my bag in front of me and it will be inside the train before I am.

I don’t think that the actions of one employee, as reported, can be used to pass a judgement on the overall quality of a TOC or any other organisation.
 

maniacmartin

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In London, its not uncommon for the doors to start to close before all the people waiting on the platform have had a chance to board, even if there is room on board for them. There's nothing frustrating than waiting on the platform for 5 minutes for your train, and then not be given time to board when it arrives.

Things would also be helped if passengers moved down so others can board more quickly. However, most passengers seem reluctant to do so.
 

SpacePhoenix

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Is there any sort of set standard for the time between when the hustle alarm starts to sound and when the doors physically start to close?
 

edwin_m

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In London, its not uncommon for the doors to start to close before all the people waiting on the platform have had a chance to board, even if there is room on board for them. There's nothing frustrating than waiting on the platform for 5 minutes for your train, and then not be given time to board when it arrives.

It's a good deal more frustrating if the wait for the next train is an hour as in this case, not another 5min as it often would be in London.
 

LowLevel

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Is there any sort of set standard for the time between when the hustle alarm starts to sound and when the doors physically start to close?

I would imagine there's a specification for each class of unit but experiences dictates that it varies wildly between units within classes let alone different ones.
 

Old Yard Dog

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Yes I have reported it to EMT and I hope they reply. Previous complaints to them on other matters have gone unanswered.

Having dispatched the Derby train, the dispatcher had to hurry back along to the middle of platform 5 to dispatch the train I had just got off. That might explain his undue haste.

But both the dispatcher and conductor must have seen the Virgin train arrive on P5 and people hurrying across the platform before giving the signal to go, otherwise the first passenger could not have made the connection.

Crewe - Derby timings can't be all that tight. Trains are often held for several minutes at the junction outside Derby station for the run to platform 2 to clear - and still arrive on time.
 

Haywain

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Having dispatched the Derby train, the dispatcher had to hurry back along to the middle of platform 5 to dispatch the train I had just got off. That might explain his undue haste.
So to delay the Derby train further would also have further delayed the train you had left, and could have also caused delay to following main line trains. That may explain a lot.
 
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