The implications of false destinations for ticket validity

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by yorkie, 12 Aug 2019.

  1. alistairlees

    alistairlees Established Member

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    I think that would only confuse further. The right solution is to show the type of service (intercity, stopper, etc), the TOC, the ID / train number, and the actual destination, with one or more via locations as required (unless the journey is circular or passes through the origin). Colour coding / other symbol could also be used. This sort of thing works well across Europe and Japan do there is no reason for it not to work here.
     
  2. Skimpot flyer

    Skimpot flyer Member

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    Many times at London Euston, I’ve seen groups of tourists heading for the Warner Brothers / Harry Potter thing get on an Overground train to Watford Junction. I let them know that if they use other fast services, they could get there in a third of the time. I do wonder though if giving a false destination of, say, Bushey would lead to people being less likely to board the slow services? I seem to remember recently seeing London-bound services on the same route being advertised as going to South Hampstead
     
  3. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Quite a few of you are assuming that everyone has the same level of technical knowledge and understanding as you do. You may be the type of person who can rapidly comprehend all information displayed and just as quickly filter out what is irrelevant to you. This is not the case for everyone. False destinations have an overall benefit as they save a lot of time for people and I support them for this reason.

    I've worked in a Customer Information Point and observed passenger behaviour. Some people have conditioned their minds to only process the most prominently displayed information - the final destination, or even only the departure time then the platform (sometimes).

    A lot of people will see the ultimate destination and take that train without question as they aren't familiar enough with the system to verify it's the fastest train.

    You all may have voluntary learned how the system works because you like the railways or work for them, but actually a lot of passengers need guidance and some level of travel training to avoid pitfalls like wasting time on slow trains.

    People who are riding trains for fun may disbenefit as false destinations stop you taking a circuitous route that takes 20x as long as the direct route, but the numbers affected will be dwarfed by those who benefit from false destinations.

    Perhaps the campaign should be to have a special set of rules for recreational use of trains that don't open up the floodgates for fraud and abuse by the masses.
     
  4. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    You mean, they have an overall benefit to you? Because you personally haven't booked an Advance ticket and then missed your train because the timetable appears to have been changed since you booked, when actually the train was run normally? Because you know where so-called false destinations are applied and where they aren't, or because you have access to internal industry information which reveals where false destinations are applied?

    Given the current product range on sale, a false destination at York for a stopping train to Leeds via Micklefield is completely and utterly crazy.
    I agree. So what you mean is, passengers travelling on some Northern trains at York are apparently not entitled to guidance, while those who've bought the most expensive tickets to Leeds are?
    I think you have just made this effect up completely.
     
    Last edited: 12 Aug 2019
  5. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    In this case people see 'Cross Gates' as the 'final destination', yet they are expecting a train to Leeds!
    The use of false destinations makes absolutely zero difference to the validity of tickets.
     
  6. Parallel

    Parallel Established Member

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    I don’t mind false destinations, but I agree that it is confusing for people with advance fares.

    At Oxford, ‘Ealing Broadway’ is displayed as anyone who would travel to Paddington would get one of the fast or semi fast services. I think stations where multiple operators stop at should use the full destinations with a description underneath like ‘stopping service’ or ‘overtaken by fast train’ or something.
     
  7. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    I mean exactly what I posted and did explain why there is a benefit.

    If you need assistance with using an Advance ticket then ask a member of staff if there is one or failing that, there is a help point at every single station on the network where someone should be able to provide some clarity on what to do if your train is not shown to run to its destination. They will either tell you that the train is going to where you need to go, or give dispensation to travel on another service if appropriate.

    As for circuitous journeys, I think quite a few people on here would have done them, myself included at some point.

    No doubt there are pros and cons to the practice, but help is at hand if it raises questions.
     
  8. ashkeba

    ashkeba Member

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    I think you've not tried "help" points much.

    Why prefer false destinations to "next fastest train to" boards?
     
  9. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    It can connect you to the TOC control room or someone close by who I expect will be able to advise on train calling points.


    Whatever is done, the unintended consequences have to be considered. Next fastest boards seem like a great idea, but these can be misinterpreted by people. As can arrivals boards which people often think is the departures board.
     
    Last edited: 12 Aug 2019
  10. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    While some may disagree with the point I was making, and I accept that and agree to disagree with them, the vast majority do agree with me; we are talking both experienced rail industry professionals and inexperienced people who rarely travel by train alike.

    Here are two more tweets:
    https://twitter.com/AeneasHart/status/1137818423457718272
    (from a very experienced ex-rail industry person)

    https://twitter.com/PHowden82/status/1158035408418217984
    These tweets were sent about 8 weeks apart, and in both cases the response was that it had been "reported"; it's been well over two months since the first report, so I am now wondering if it might be intentional.
     
  11. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Those tweets both look like they were sent by people with an enhanced level of technical knowledge of how the system works and are picking holes in it which is fair enough for debate's sake, but in isolation isn't evidence that masses of people have missed their train because of it.

    Are there any tweets from passengers who have genuinely been affected, or do they seek assistance at the time of travel?
     
    Last edited: 12 Aug 2019
  12. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    How about this one:
    I also put the question to people who are unfamiliar with rail travel and they were confused.

    Also a few weeks ago I saw an ex-colleague on a TPE train who was charged a new ticket by the TPE Guard as we pulled into the platform, because he had a Northern only ticket. Believe me, I get to hear a wide range of opinions on people who are not familiar with rail travel!

    The idea that I just post from the point of view of an expert without seeing it from the point of view of a newbie is about as far from the truth as can be.
     
  13. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Ok, so they sought assistance and confirmed the train stopped at Leeds, which is what I expect people might do in that circumstance.

    Travelling on the wrong TOC is very common - did that passenger ask somebody at the station which was the correct train to catch?
     
  14. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I am not denying that:
    though I do note the concerns of others; especially given there is currently no way for booking sites to give the 'false destination' to the customer, but that's rather beyond the scope of the point I was making, which is that it's not appropriate (IMO) to use 'false destinations' - at least not in their current form - where ticket validity is a concern.
     
  15. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    I take that point, but that Tweet from the passenger just serves as evidence that people can seek assistance and get the right information if they want something clarified.

    People getting on the wrong company's train is an issue as old as privatisation itself - did your colleague ask anybody before boarding, or just make an assumption that their ticket was valid on the TPE service despite buying a Northern only ticket? If they believed their train was terminating short at Cross Gates, did they seek assistance as to what to do from a member of staff before boarding the TPE service?
     
  16. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    I don't like misleading or oversimplified information either, but there's a balance of things to consider.

    Is there a reason why usage of the trains via Garforth is discouraged in this manner? Do they have the capacity to carry the volume of passengers that are expected and have tickets to travel on the faster York to Leeds services? Do passengers making this journey on normal tickets want the time penalty the stopping service incurs? Are there "Next fastest train to..." boards that many people misinterpret because of information overload? I've seen these boards which show two entries for some destinations elsewhere and can guarantee that causes confusion to a percentage of travellers. For a start a load will not have a clue which train will be faster from that alone.

    I can see why displaying Cross Gates might cause concern to passengers. If on an Advance ticket and you believe your service is disrupted, I think it's likely assistance would be sought as to what to do next. Is York ever unstaffed? Do the Northern and TPE trains have a guard or ticket examiner that could clarify ticket validity and station stops?

    It's not really an ideal solution, but what do people suggest, in consideration of unintended consequences? It's not being done to confuse people and is very easily clarified by asking a member of staff. That is precisely what I would do if in that situation.

    Sometimes it feels like there's a disparity between the perceived impact and the actual impact of things like this.
     
    Last edited: 12 Aug 2019
  17. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Harrogate trains are a total red herring as Advance tickets aren't reserved onto these, and other Northern services arrive sooner in Leeds for those on walk-up tickets. This thread isn't about services such as the ones via Harrogate, and that is made suitably clear in the opening post.

    Anyone trying to defend the current practice of showing a false destination just to make people catch a fast train that doesn't overtake a stopping service is advocating for the train company to lie to people in order to delay their journey for operational convenience. The tweet from Aeneas Hart explains this.
     
  18. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    Fair enough and I've edited my post to avoid confusion.

    I doubt operational convenience is the reason for use of false destinations - it's usually to discourage passengers from taking slower than necessary services. A quick look at a timetable shows most of those Northern services are overtaken. For those that aren't then the correct destination should really be displayed.

    The departure boards at York - what is displayed for these services on the main departure boards that show all station calls? The only reason I ask is that the false destination function doesn't appear to be used for these trips, whereas it is for the Harrogate services. Do all train information boards in York station show Cross Gates, or is it only the departure summary board that's shown in the first post?

    I have no doubt that staff working at York will be familiar with this and will be able to clarify matters for passengers , as is evidenced by the tweet Yorkie quoted from Ayah Alfawaris. There are pros and cons to deterring people from using services that are overtaken but I hope a better solution is found for those who have reason to ask further questions as a result of an incorrect destination being shown.

    Meanwhile, summary boards elsewhere show odd things. At Waterloo East, sometimes Lewisham is implied as the destination for services on the summary board when they actually terminate somewhere else. As such I don't assume that board shows the final destination for all train services - and I'm not averse to asking a member of staff for clarity if needed.
     
  19. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    My post wasn't aimed at you as the OP starting the discussion, but some of the other responses where it seemed there was no appreciation for why false destinations might be helpful for some passengers.
     
  20. mmh

    mmh Established Member

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    Perhaps the title of this thread could be clearer then - "The implications of false destinations for ticket validity." If you believe there are none, why ask the question?

    You cannot possibly know that the vast majority agree with you, only those whose opinion you're aware of.
     
  21. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Because the implication from train companies on twitter is that tickets are valid on 'fast trains' because this is 'less confusing' if they decide to hide the true destination on their screen. To put it another way, that Northern Only tickets to Leeds are valid on TransPennine Express services in cases where the destination has been hidden from the screen. Is that correct? My reading of what LNER say is that it is.
     
  22. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    I have had a chap working for me turn up on site 40 minutes late because he looked for the final destination and jumped on a stopper rather than the Inter-City* that I told him to catch. Didn't do my credibility with a hostile local manager any good when it looked as if the people reviewing his branch couldn't even read a railway timetable.

    * I do mean the British Rail brand of that name, it was a long time ago.
     
  23. hkstudent

    hkstudent Member

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    I think the best solution to the "false destination" is, using the Japanese style format of trains like "limited (stop) express", "express", "fast", "Semi-Fast", "Standard" to ease confusion.
    In this particular case, as the monitor displayed a terminated short destination, would the passenger be able to get the next Northern Train (which is fast?) with the photo shot of display monitor, calming the train to Leeds is "cancelled"?
     
  24. Merseysider

    Merseysider Established Member Fares Advisor

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    I would imagine a large proportion of passengers would seek staff help rather than unilaterally and deliberately taking the 'wrong' train.
     
  25. methethpropbut

    methethpropbut Member

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    I'd hope that if someone were to miss their train because of it, they'd be given the same rights as if the train was actually terminated short.


    My next question is - why is the final destination of a train given such prominence? If I turned up at Edinburgh looking to go to York, the vast majority of trains I can take won't be displaying York - I'd have to know to look for a London King's Cross, Penzance, Plymouth, Birmingham New Street, etc, and actually look at the intermediate calls - there's no reason why anyone should simply assume they'd see their destination in big letters. Perhaps on the big screens we should actually never list a final destination - just all the stops instead (e.g. 19:19 calling at Church Fenton, Micklefield, East Garforth, Garforth, Cross Gates & Leeds). Anyone who wants this specific train knows that it goes where they want it to go. Anyone simply wanting "Leeds" will very quickly find out that they'll make more stops than the train on the next platform, and be able to make a better decision.
     
  26. ashkeba

    ashkeba Member

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    I have that problem often when travelling. In most other countries, you simply look for your train code or a number from a list of possible trains. That is not currently possible on UK departure boards and so I end up using realtimetrains to find train codes and that brought me here so I guess it is not without some benefits! But maybe not for the rest of you! :lol:
     
  27. Merseysider

    Merseysider Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Agreed.
    Exactly, and there's no reason why it couldn't be implemented.

    On the multiscreen departure boards at most major stations, where the TOC name is given a line of its own, this could easily be replaced with a train ID.
     
  28. moose5000

    moose5000 New Member

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    Is the Cross Gates false destination a new thing at York?

    I know that the York to Leeds via Harrogate train was displayed as Burley Park back in May (haven't been back since but will be soon) - I like to think I know a bit about trains but I had to do a double take and ask at customer services. As far as I can remember the York to Leeds via Micklefield and Cross Gates services were still displayed as Leeds back then.

    I think that the "this is a slow train" message seems like a good compromise. In the York-Leeds example, it tells people that the train is going to Leeds but will take longer and there are quicker trains available. It also helps people like me who want to perhaps take a different, slower route but want to make sure it does get to Leeds eventually!
     
  29. ashkeba

    ashkeba Member

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    Maybe the fool who used to do the bad old King's Cross destination board (and loved false destinations) now works at York?

    Which reminds me of another possible solution to the original problem: label the slows as "Cross Gates & Leeds" like how some trains at King's Cross are labelled as "Cambridge & King's Lynn" although that's for a different reason.

    I'd still prefer some train codes or numbers though.
     
  30. tony_mac

    tony_mac Established Member

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    It would be a good compromise if there was a way to implement it consistently, so that people knew what it meant.

    In this case, the 'slow' train to 'Cross Gates' is only about 10 minutes slower than the 'fast' services. And with more chance of getting a seat, it's not a wildly unreasonable option anyway. Whereas accidentally going via Harrogate would be much more of a problem.
    FWIW, I think 'false destinations' generally do more good than harm, but I think this one is particularly troublesome.
     

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