TOCs and cancelling trains

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by paulfoel, 29 May 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. paulfoel

    paulfoel Member

    Messages:
    152
    Joined:
    6 Jan 2014
    Does it cost the TOC money if they cancel trains?

    Some i.e Arriva Trains Wales seem to cancel at the drop of a hat and they don't seem to care. I get train from Newport to Gloucester and will often find the first train of the day cancelled or other trains cancelled. Ranges from no driver or technical problems (because they're trains are so old).

    Cross country run on the same route and very rarely seem to cancel.

    I remember a few years ago when the line was flooded near Lydney. ATW cancelled all trains for the day, CC kept them running as best they could.

    ATW just seem like they can't be bothered half the time.

    (Incidentally, what happens if a driver calls in sick - do they have cover? Seems a bit much that 100s of people potentially are late for work because of one person. My wifes a nurse - barring emergency you have to phone in sick by 9pm the night before a morning shift so that cover can be arranged).
     
  2. CyrusWuff

    CyrusWuff Established Member

    Messages:
    1,842
    Joined:
    20 May 2013
    Yes. Which is why TOCs would generally rather run a train late than cancel it, as it's a lower penalty.

    As for sickness, each depot will have a quantity of shifts that are designated as spare or cover, but once those have been used, the only way to cover anything else is to juggle other drivers around. At some point you'll run out and have to cancel trains.

    Sundays, being outside the working week, can be a particular problem. Even though Drivers are contractually obliged to work a Sunday if it can't be covered, TOCs have no come back against them if they don't turn up for the shift.
     
  3. PHILIPE

    PHILIPE Established Member

    Messages:
    7,136
    Joined:
    14 Nov 2011
    Location:
    Caerphilly
    Complete exaggeration. Network Rail would decide the level of service of trains that could pass through Lydney during flooding.
     
    Last edited: 29 May 2015
  4. crehld

    crehld Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

    Messages:
    1,959
    Joined:
    1 Nov 2014
    Location:
    Between Crewe & Hellifield
    Genuine question... perhaps I've misunderstood. Why do TOCs have no comeback against staff who don't show up for work when they're contractually obliged to turn up (I'm assuming they're not ill / sick)? Do TOCs not enforce their employee's employment terms or let go of those who do not abide by them? If I failed to show up for work when I was supposed I'd be out of a job rather quickly!
     
  5. craigwilson

    craigwilson Member

    Messages:
    423
    Joined:
    3 Jan 2010
    Location:
    Buxton, Derbyshire
    Indeed - those two phrases are (in theory) mutually exclusive. Could you explain further CyrusWuff?
     
  6. gtr driver

    gtr driver Member

    Messages:
    144
    Joined:
    24 Apr 2015
    Well unfortunately sickness doesn't run to to a schedule. If you're ill, you're ill, regardless of company rules. As others have said there is a certain amount of cover turns, once they run out you're looking at other depots cross covering or calling people for overtime. Rest assured they will jump through hoops of fire to avoid cancelling any trains. Yes it is massively inconvenient if trains are cancelled but it would be far worse if a sick driver turns up for work and makes a mistake as a result of his illness. There would be no sympathy from the company - their first question would be why didn't you go sick if you weren't up to driving?
     
  7. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

    Messages:
    4,818
    Joined:
    17 Feb 2011
    Not a single week goes by where London Midland doesn't cancel some of its Liverpool to Birmingham services due to "staff shortage". It is always the same services which are affected. Some of these are cancelled more than 10% of the time, purely due to staff shortage.

    In contrast, I have never seen Virgin Trains West Coast cancel a train due to staff shortage. Ever.
     
  8. VP185

    VP185 Member

    Messages:
    179
    Joined:
    13 Feb 2010
    Just like any industry, employees go sick.... on average, employees take 4.4 days sick leave per year. In the rail industry research suggests its lower than in other professions it's just more noticeable.
    The question is, would it would be safe for a driver of a 125mph high speed train being distracted by some kind of illness?
    If a TOC forced their "ill" employee to work and there was a serious incident.....
     
  9. crehld

    crehld Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

    Messages:
    1,959
    Joined:
    1 Nov 2014
    Location:
    Between Crewe & Hellifield
    To clarify, I'm not talking about if people are off on sick (as was clearly stated in my post). I'm talking about if people just don't bother to show up to work when they're supposed to. The earlier poster seems to suggest that TOCs have no course of action if this happens, but this doesn't quite make sense to me.
     
  10. VP185

    VP185 Member

    Messages:
    179
    Joined:
    13 Feb 2010
    Sorry! If you just fail to show up for work again the outcome would be the same as in any other industry. You don't get paid.... repeatedly fail to show for work you're on a disciplinary possible leading to a P45
     
  11. Tomnick

    Tomnick Established Member

    Messages:
    4,420
    Joined:
    10 Jun 2005
    It's an interesting question. For TOCs where Sundays are outside the working week, but rostered turns must be worked if no cover can be found - has this ever been tested in court? One colleague has looked into this at length, and reckons that the TOC would indeed have no comeback, with the suggestion that one particular piece of legislation (not sure which - any offers?) overrides anything stated in a contract of employment and states that no-one can be compelled to work overtime.
     
  12. WCMLaddict

    WCMLaddict Member

    Messages:
    394
    Joined:
    20 Mar 2012
    As far as I know, our Sundays are classed as a voluntary overtime even if it's rostered.
     
  13. cjohnson

    cjohnson Member

    Messages:
    547
    Joined:
    3 Sep 2009
    There is research to suggest that it is quite higher in the rail industry.

    The 4.4 days/year is a lost time rate of 2% according to the ONS study.

    This 2014 RSSB report suggests that the estimated lost time rate in the rail industry is almost double the national average, at 3.9%. In one of their TOC case studies, they found that the average among the driver population was 5.21%.
     
  14. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

    Messages:
    11,332
    Joined:
    10 May 2010
    Ours are similar but if you don't turn up what can the company do, they can't force you to work overtime because it is simply that, overtime.

    Very rare it's a problem though as most drivers do turn up for their Sunday shifts.
     
  15. A-driver

    A-driver Established Member

    Messages:
    4,483
    Joined:
    9 May 2011

    I think it's unfair to compare sickness levels to other industries as there is a higher rate of enforced sickness within the railway safety critical grade which will contribute to those figures but are not part of a 'sick note culture'.

    If I go to the dentist and have a local anaesthetic my TOC won't allow me near a train for 48hours. That could be 2 days off sick. If I worked in an office I could go straight back into work pretty much. That's a possible 2 days enforced sick.

    If I go to the doctor and am prescribed certain medication I am not allowed to work and so booked sick for he length of the prescription. If I worked in an office I could continue to work normally.

    If I had an injury I'd be booked off sick until the company doctor felt I could resume full duties. So a broken leg could involve moving furniture around in an office so an employee can continue working. It involves being booked sick until 100% fit for a train driver.

    To an extent with stomach bugs and similar a train driver can't be expected to go into work in an environment where they are denied toilet facilities for 4or 5 hours at a time. I'm not in any way suggesting it's the only profession where that is the case however there are certainly jobs where one could escape to the toilet fairly regularly if need be.

    So I think these kind of figures need to be taken with a pinch of salt as they certainly don't provide a realistic or true comparison!
     
  16. sbt

    sbt Member

    Messages:
    201
    Joined:
    12 Oct 2011
    Ref cancelling trains, don't forget that trains that actually run can end up being shown as 'cancelled' at certain stations if they are run 'fast' to their destination or turned round early.

    As a passenger I am well aware that some stations are prone to seeing excessive numbers of cancelled trains because running fast through them, taking a diversion that misses them, or turning a train that serves them round, is especially useful or restoring normal service. Things are much better than in the past these days, it appears that TOCs are thinking things through rather more, but I do remember one sub-zero January day standing on the platform at Haselmere as booked train after booked train rumbled past and those of us who had been dumped out there stared at the locked waiting rooms and got closer and closer to hypothermia.

    One of the things that has been stopped, or at least reduced, is the trick of skipping stations or turning round early in order to meet punctuality targets that are measured only at the terminal station. My trains from Woking to West Byfleet used to suffer horribly from this with a quarter hourly service occasionally seeing trains 'cancelled', one after the other, for a couple of hours at a time and early turn rounds being basically routine.

    I understand the need to restore services and how late running services mess up the whole system, particularly on routes that are near capacity, and/or where crew are nearing the end of their 'hours', but it can be a pain for those of us left looking at 'cancelled' on the board for our journey for extended periods. I will repeat, however, that things are much, much, better than they once were.
     
  17. paulfoel

    paulfoel Member

    Messages:
    152
    Joined:
    6 Jan 2014
    18 months ago during the winter. Several times ATW cancelled their train but CC still ran on this line.

    As you suggest, NR must have decided the line was fit for use but ATW didnt bother.
     
  18. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

    Messages:
    2,978
    Joined:
    23 Jan 2012
    How do you know that it was a case of 'not bothering'?

    More likely: line has limited capacity as it is damaged, XC services have been designated as having a higher priority over the ATW locals and therefore XC use all of the limited capacity.
     
  19. paulfoel

    paulfoel Member

    Messages:
    152
    Joined:
    6 Jan 2014
    ~Never thought of that. Of course, driver is stuck in the front the entire journey.

    Im guessing they do quickly dive into toilet at station if needs be? Or are they not allowed to leave the cab?
     
  20. wensley

    wensley Established Member

    Messages:
    2,010
    Joined:
    29 Jun 2008
    Location:
    On a train...somewhere!
    As echoed by other posters, this is not the case. There are detailled route contingency plans agreed by NR and TOCs to maintain service during disruption/reduced capacity.

    Somebody will lose out under these scenarios, but both parties (TOCs and NR) try and run the highest percentage of trains possible; it can get very expensive otherwise...
     
  21. martynbristow

    martynbristow Member

    Messages:
    426
    Joined:
    15 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Birkenhead
    Well things will vary on a TOC basis, each TOC has different operations and different staff contracts.

    You can't *just cancel* a train, you have to cancel its full trip or make it up to somewhere, so its not simple. We luckily see very few cancellations here because its a small, isolated and theres been a lot of effort made. ATW is a complex staff more spread with a variety of rolling stock.

    The London Midland problem is partly bad management on part of LM and the DfT. It takes time to train staff to that level. I used to work in personnel planning and we were recruiting people for jobs 40 years in advance to ensure there training was sufficient. Drivers need traction, routes and then driver trainers will need experience etc.

    The same will apply to fixing rolling stock for ATW, getting the staff to do the work is very complex.

    Although it does come down to money, spare staff cost money!
     
  22. A-driver

    A-driver Established Member

    Messages:
    4,483
    Joined:
    9 May 2011

    They can of course use a toilet if needed but not much help if you have an hour long run with no stations.
     
  23. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

    Messages:
    6,680
    Joined:
    27 Feb 2011
    I remember one time where there was some issue on the South West Trains mainline. I can't remember where the problems were but it wasn't between Guildford and Woking. I got on a train from London to Woking hoping to get a connection to Guildford there.

    However trains were being terminated at Guildford and run back south and nothing was coming down from London towards Guildford. There were several trains from London but all were heading towards Basingstoke.

    There was a train run from London to Guildford via Cobham line. The platform at Woking got rather overcrowded. So much so that they announced a fast train was coming through in order to get people to stand back. No such train was actually coming through mind you.

    After over an hour, since a previous train had gone to Guildford, a train eventually turned up.

    There was another time when there was problems and buses were running between Haslemere and Guildford but not Guildford and Woking, so there was still a gap in the route.

    In more recent times I've seen replacement services, during disruption terminate and start at Guildford, in the morning rush hour, so passengers can get to Woking and beyond.
     
  24. TUC

    TUC Established Member

    Messages:
    1,518
    Joined:
    11 Nov 2010
    That's what I think is an oddity. Quite right that staff should have regular days off. Quite legitimate to have a view that working Sundays should attract additional pay. It's having sundays as sitting outside the shift structure and being purely voluntary that makes no sense to me.
     
  25. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

    Messages:
    3,298
    Joined:
    1 May 2012
    I think there's a history to this. At one time - when religious observance was rather higher - Sunday working was viewed as optional in many industries. The enhanced pay, however, ensured a ready supply of volunteers! Indeed, my father - a driver - was ribbed by his colleagues about how often he managed to work Sunday London jobs (which, with Sunday rates + mileage bonus, was very lucrative!).

    I understand that some TOCs have changed contracts to make Sunday part of the rostered week, but this can only be done by agreement. And the railway unions are pretty good at negotiation!
     
  26. A-driver

    A-driver Established Member

    Messages:
    4,483
    Joined:
    9 May 2011

    The railway unions are the ones pushing to put Sunday's inside the working week. The TOCs far prefer it outside as it is much, much cheaper for them.
     
  27. FOH

    FOH Member

    Messages:
    372
    Joined:
    17 Oct 2013
    The cancelling of intermediate stations and run fast to destination is a favourite model for Southern. If there were any stats I'd bet they're at the top of this tactic.
     
  28. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

    Messages:
    3,298
    Joined:
    1 May 2012
    That illustrates how much the world has changed! (My father was an LDC Secretary at a North Wales shed in the 1960s. Things were very different then ... and there!)
     
  29. A-driver

    A-driver Established Member

    Messages:
    4,483
    Joined:
    9 May 2011

    When delayed that is often the only option. With tight turnarounds for Crew and stock if a train starts running late they have to terminate it short or run it fast otherwise it will never recover the time. It's inconvenient for those who use intermediate stations but is done to benefit many, many more people who will use that train later in the day.
     
  30. Welshman

    Welshman Established Member

    Messages:
    2,487
    Joined:
    11 Mar 2010
    I think the culture of the Sabbath Observance still applies in Wales.

    Try getting an ATW service eastwards from Llandudno Junction between 1122 and 1526! :D
     
    Last edited: 2 Jun 2015
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page