St Pancras - Sheffield - 2 set swaps (5/11/11)

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Jamp, 14 Nov 2011.

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  1. Jamp

    Jamp Member

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    Hi All,

    Last Sunday I flew into Heathrow after an overnight flight. The airline hadn’t accounted for the clocks changing here before they do in the US, so we arrived an hour ‘early’ due to that, and earlier still due to a good tailwind. I’d allowed plenty of time for the tube-replacement bus to Acton Town before the tube to St P, but actually that ran every smoothly. All in all we ended up at St Pancras in plenty of time for the 13:05, let alone the 14:55 we had booked advanced tickets for. We got short shrift from the ticket desk when we explained and asked politely to exchange the tickets, so we waited patiently for the 14:55.

    In the event, due to disruption at Euston, the EMT trains were standing room only so we were glad of our reserved seats. However upon arrival at Leicester we were told we had to set swap, and this was presented as being for our benefit as the HST had an extra carriage compared to our 222. Of course all those who had stood from London quickly made their way across the platform, while our reservations were rendered useless as we struggled with our luggage. People were waiting eagerly for our 222 which made its way straight back to London.

    Upon leaving Leicester it was immediately announced that the HST was running on reduced power and we would be set-swapping once again in Derby. I presume one of the power cars was in-op but it still hauled us along reasonably well. I am suspicious that this HST had failed on its way south and so they swapped units in order to get the sick ship back to base in Derby, presumably avoiding the worst of the fines for late running, but perhaps also risk mitigating to be fair. Fortunately the numbers thinned out by Derby so I think everyone was seated by the time we were on our third set. We made it to Sheffield with around 25 min delay.

    What do the team think? Was it reasonable to cause disruption to a very full train, particularly invalidating the reservations of the planned EMT customers in favour of the diverted passengers, in order to mitigate delay of the southbound train? Could they not have simply sent the spare 222 down from Derby to replace the sick HST at Leicester, or was there not a spare crew for the ferrying? Or, have I interpreted the situation wrongly?

    Finally, is it universal that you cannot get an earlier train when on an Advanced ticket? What happens if the situation is reversed and your flight is late/you didn’t know about tube replacement bus? Any leniency from the TOCs then?
     
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  3. graham43404

    graham43404 Member

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    I have to say that unless everyone managed to get a seat on the first swap I can't see the benefit to those who were booked on the original train at all.
     
  4. WillPS

    WillPS Established Member

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    From an operational point of view, they'll be glad they got it to Sheffield in under 30 minutes (avoiding Delay Repay compensation) and they'll also have minimised any penalties they would have otherwise received (as far as I know, penalties are dished out for lateness and cancellations - but not for inconveniencing customers with set swaps and/or lack of reservations).

    I'd advise you write to EMT expressing your dissatisfaction with being made to change twice on a direct service, and the inconvenience this caused you. Send your tickets along with the letter if you still have them (take a photocopy for yourself in case they lose them).
     
  5. Wyvern

    Wyvern Established Member

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    You'd have to buy anew ticket at the full single fare I believe as EMT is not responsible for LUL problems.

    Would you be able to claim it on your travel insurance?
     
  6. graham43404

    graham43404 Member

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    We were once booked on a Virgin Trains service from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly and were delayed due to the Northern Line being suspended due to someone jumping in front of a train. We did our best to get there in time using a local bus service from Colliers Wood to Brixton then using the Victoria to Euston. However we arrived just over 10mins after our train had left.

    We went to the Virgin Ticket office fearing the worst, however if you don't try you dont ask. We explained the situation and the person serving us was very understanding and authorised our ticket for use on the the train 40mins after the one we had been booked on.

    I am not sure if it was a case of us getting what we should have, were lucky or if it was just because we got to deal with a human being as opposed to a robot with a chip on there shoulder.
     
  7. Jamp

    Jamp Member

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    Well I think the swap was intended to benefit the southbound (and subsequent) HST passengers by utilising 'our' healthy 222. Presumably if they weren't waiting too long at Leicester, EMT will have avoided late fines on that service too. As mentioned though, the guard presented it as if the swap was, at least partly, for our benefit. I can assure there weren't enough seats on the HST as I stood (having been awake for ~30hr)!
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Thinking about it I've also been allowed to travel on a later service with and Advanced ticket. Bus to the station was late so I got to the platform to find the doors locked and my train ready to move. No leniency from the dispatcher/guard (understandable) but the ticket office took pity. I was pretty sweaty having thought I could run through Sheff faster than the bus stuck in traffic, so that may have helped my case!

    I don't rely on travel insurance for anything and only grudgingly get it for medical cover abroad. They reject absolutely every claim they can in my experience. eg. my Isle of Man ferry cancelled due to weather - "we don't cover weather cancellations" said my insurers - so what on earth is it for?! That's another rant anyway! What's "LUL"?

    I may write to EMT as suggested. They didn't tolerate my 'operational reasons' for arriving early so why should I tolerate theirs for set swapping!

    Cheers.
     
  8. pmgarvey

    pmgarvey Member

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    Literally it's London Underground Limited, who are the organisation that legally own the tube (they're a subsidiary of Transport for London), though most people just use it to refer to the entire London Underground system.
     
  9. 455driver

    455driver On Moderation

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    Why buy an advanced ticket (and limit yourself to 1 train), if you want flexibility then buy a flexible ticket.

    As for the set swaps, would you rather the HST was sent down to London with the possibility of failing and causing mayhem?
    The decision was the right one in the circumstances as it only inconvenienced a relatively small number of passengers compared to the alternative.
    Did you have a word with the TM on the HST to see if he could make your journey an more comfortable in any way?
     
  10. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    Jamp, I can't really talk about the operational side of things as it's not really my forté.

    However I'm not sure why you feel that having bought a heavily-discounted, inflexible ticket, you thought you could just jump on any train you like.

    EMT would have been happy to carry you on the earlier service if you'd amended your tickets to a walk-up (more expensive) fare. If you want flexibility, I'm afraid it's only right that you pay for it.
     
  11. Jamp

    Jamp Member

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    As mentioned, I bought a ticket to suit my flight's advertised arrival time, allowing for the closure on the tube. The airline had miscalculated my arrival time due to the change from summer time occurring earlier at the destination than the origin. I accepted having to wait, but given the disruption from Euston was only getting worse, it would have made sense for all concerned to get us through the system early. Nevertheless I take your point about a flexible ticket, but I find advanced fares are the only affordable way to make one-way train journeys. I don't consider the advanced tickets good value if you're denied your reserved seat, either!

    As for the HST being diverted away from London - all well and good - but why not send the spare 222 to accommodate the HST's original passengers (considerably fewer of them) rather than affecting my train's passengers too? Perhaps it was also unwise to fully load the sick HST if its total failure was imminent as you suggest? I suspect it was done for maximum convenience and minimum expenditure for EMT, but I'm open to other ideas as I'm not certain my explanation for the swaps is correct ("operational reasons" or similar was all we got, so my explanation is just what I've figured out, not necessarily correct though). The TM was nowhere to be seen on any of the trains and it was plain there were no seats spare on the first two (1st was already declassified if that's what you're alluding to, and I was at the wrong end of the train, with 50kg of luggage, anyway). I don't feel too hard done by by the journey really, it was just irritating in combination with the 'delay' waiting for my booked service, so I'm just interested to know what happened and why it couldn't be handled better.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---

    Appreciate that, but I don't feel it's made clear how you can use advanced tickets in combination with other transport. Are you suggesting you should never use an advanced ticket if you're connecting from a flight/ferry/bus?
     
  12. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    It's made abundantly clear - you can only travel on the booked service. Advance tickets are great if you're coming off a plane - as long as you are conservative with time and are prepared to hang around if necessary. However if you miss the train, you need to buy a new ticket.
     
  13. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    It's not an unreasonable question though. Even budget airlines such as Easyjet allow customers to travel on an earlier service than booked if there is space available on an earlier service to the same destination.
     
  14. pmgarvey

    pmgarvey Member

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    Easyjet would know if there was space though. Until the train's about to leave no one knows how many walk up passengers may be about to arrive. Did TPE have something where you could travel on the next service if your plane was late at Manchester, or have I imagined that?
     
  15. Jamp

    Jamp Member

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    Speaking from experience; Easyjet make you wait until check-in closes, just in case they have a chance at selling a walk-up fare. If they don't fill it up then they'll give you a boarding pass for the earlier flight.

    The TOCs could easily give you a ticket without a reservation and you'd have to take your chances. I'd guess it's also fairly predictable how many people are going to show up for a particular service if you study the statistics, as per the revenue sharing for flexible tickets on multi-TOC routes.
     
  16. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    For the record, as I have mentioned before, if Advance fares are cheap enough, then as insurance it might be beneficial to buy one for the planned arrival time and one for way later than that in case things go wrong in the process. Granted it won't be a method suitable for everyone as I just happen to be fine with hanging around at a restaurant or café if my flight is early. As someone else has mentioned, you can't lose by asking.

    The TOCs are partly to blame for passengers sometimes requesting leniency with AP singles by having ridiculously high walk-up fares for single journeys. In many situations AP fares are all they can afford.
     
  17. notoemt

    notoemt Member

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    The day before I caught the 1528 HST from Nottingham. The train manager said "we've got a bit of a poorly train" and that those continuing to London would have to change trains at Leicester It didn't seem to be going very quickly but it wasn't particularly late into Leicester. It had been late into Nottingham. At Leicester the platform board said 16:04 to Sheffield. I was surprised by that. If it was so poorly that they had to change it why were they going all the way to Sheffield? Then I figured that the depot must be Sheffield way

    I wonder if it was the same "poorly" hst? Does EMT not employ engineers at weekends? Surely with it being the weekend EMT has a few working HST's parked up?
     
  18. WillPS

    WillPS Established Member

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    If it had been nursed back to the depot one day, I'm sure they wouldn't let it leave the next unless they were confident the problem had been fixed.
     
  19. IanXC

    IanXC Emeritus Moderator

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    Yep, "Airport Advance" can be endorsed at the rail booking office on the station at the airport, based on your ticket and their airport arrival boards information.
     
  20. whhistle

    whhistle Established Member

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    That's up to the TOC. They in no way have to let you, but under some circumstances then it is possible. You did right in not expecting them to allow you to travel earlier.



    While I do agree with you, as a passenger, I wouldn't give a monkey's what mayhem it would cause to something which wouldn't affect me. It is causing me hassle to swap trains, but it would be less hassle to stay on the same train.
    However, like I say I do agree with you but your view sadly isn't shared by the majority.
     
  21. trentside

    trentside Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    I completely agree with you on this. If it was me travelling, then a set swap would just be additional hassle I wouldn't want - especially coming back from the airport. On the other hand it often it makes operational sense for the TOC and, in fact, makes the railway run better.

    I don't think the TOC can win in a situation like this. If they don't swap the sets and annoy the passengers on the working train, the train with difficulties could fail further down the line causing inconvenience to many more people.
     
  22. YorkshireBear

    YorkshireBear Established Member

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    it will of probably then ran ECS to neville hill (leeds)
     
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