train delays and information for passengers or lack of

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infobleep

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On the National rail enquires Web Site is says under SWT that there is reported signal problems between Winchester and Micheldever and there may be delays for 5 minutes.

Today the train I was on to Waterloo was 5 minutes passenger late and 7 minutes staff late in with no word what do very as to why or an apology. Not even a sorry for train is late, I've not been given a reason why.

So I was wondering is there a rule of thumb as to when or whether details of delays are reported to passengers.

The delay caused me to miss my connection at Euston, there my being not so much time between connections.one might say get an ever train to Waterloo but if I did then I'd he travelling via the west London line and Clapham Junction and I have more time then. I wasn't ready in time today to get that train, hence going via central London.

When does a delay become a minor delay and what length of time equals a major delay?

I don't mind delays but do wish we could be given more information as commuters. Am I being unreasonable here? Do we as commuters expect to be given to much information about delays. Perhaps there should be less information given out.

On an information front there are I believe 4 ways to find out about delays.

1. Disruption page
2. Service indicator page[which I think is pooled from twitter feeds]
3. Twitter feeds from the railway companies
4. Live service info pages on each train companies web site. On here you are liable to find info as to why trains are late which may not be mentioned any where else. It can be split up into general info; line info and train info. I think only general info makes the national rail enquires web site but I might be wrong on that point.

Kind regards
 
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Greenback

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Generally speaking, I think a lot of regular passengers, whether they are commuters or not, expect too much information when delays occur. Often, it's impossible to know exactly what the problem is, which makes it very unlikely to be able to offer a realistic assessment of how long something willt ake to fix. In the absence of such an estimate, it is then very difficult to advise passengers at stations what they should do - an alternative route, if available, may end up taking longer, or it may not, depending on what is found.

That is not to say that the dissemination of information is perfect. Even when information is available, the railway does appear to have a problem in getting it to front line staff. Often passengers know more than the official information that is seeping through. I remember overhearing someone say that a train would be cancelled about ten minutes before it was announced. Perhaps they were off duty rail staff with inside contacts? Who knows!
 

michael769

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I remember overhearing someone say that a train would be cancelled about ten minutes before it was announced. Perhaps they were off duty rail staff with inside contacts? Who knows!
More likely they found it out on the web. My experience with Scotrail is that I regularly receive texts or see announcements on NRE well before staff at the station seem to have any clue. Indeed my experience is that the biggest gap in Scotrails communications processes lies with dissemination to the front line staff who have to deal with the disruption. This is not acceptable.
 

Greenback

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More likely they found it out on the web. My experience with Scotrail is that I regularly receive texts or see announcements on NRE well before staff at the station seem to have any clue. Indeed my experience is that the biggest gap in Scotrails communications processes lies with dissemination to the front line staff who have to deal with the disruption. This is not acceptable.
Yes, I think that is the likeliest explanation. This is the weak point in information provision. Its not helped by the fact that staff are often out and about on the platform doing their job rather than staring at a screen looking at texts and announcements - while passengers are usually just hanging around waiting so will get to see the info.

As I say, though, I'm sure the railway can do a lot better to actually get the info to the front line staff.
 

GadgetMan

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More likely they found it out on the web. My experience with Scotrail is that I regularly receive texts or see announcements on NRE well before staff at the station seem to have any clue. Indeed my experience is that the biggest gap in Scotrails communications processes lies with dissemination to the front line staff who have to deal with the disruption. This is not acceptable.
I can only speak for the area I work trains in. I have noticed that all major stations have had their staff numbers reduced to the bear minimum the TOC can get away with. What this has meant is that the station manager who in the past would have been in the office getting updates and passing them onto staff now spend most of their time out and about on the platform carrying out platform staff duties to cover the shortage. They only now occasionally get the chance to pop into the office and check messages etc, this would explain why some passengers read updates before staff get them.

This also means when a guard (like myself) tries to ring the station manager to pass a message on of some sort, 8 times out of 10 no one picks the phone up.


This reminds me of the thread recently started where someone moaned about platform staff 'playing' with his mobile on the platform. He may well have been checking service updates, but some passengers find that to be incorrect behaviour! Can't win.
 

158801

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I recently read a document from British Rail days that stated an apology should only be given if the train is at least 10 minutes late.

I base my "sorry the train is xx minutes late" announcements on this. Less than 10 minutes and I usually don't bother apologising.

After all, a train that is 9 minutes late or less is strictly speaking "on-time".
 

142094

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Some stations give out the automatic announcements when a train is one minute late, which can become quite annoying when there is a high service frequency and the train turns up on time anyway.
 

EM2

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On the National rail enquires Web Site is says under SWT that there is reported signal problems between Winchester and Micheldever and there may be delays for 5 minutes.

Today the train I was on to Waterloo was 5 minutes passenger late and 7 minutes staff late in with no word what do very as to why or an apology. Not even a sorry for train is late, I've not been given a reason why.
Playing Devil's Advocate for a minute, does it matter? The train is late, which is a pain admittedly, but why do you need to know why it was late? Could be a signal check, could be a temporary speed restriction, could be a door fault at an earlier station, could be a trespasser, could be a passcom activation.
Does telling you that make a difference?
 

142094

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Playing Devil's Advocate for a minute, does it matter? The train is late, which is a pain admittedly, but why do you need to know why it was late? Could be a signal check, could be a temporary speed restriction, could be a door fault at an earlier station, could be a trespasser, could be a passcom activation.
Does telling you that make a difference?
Probably not, but it does give the passenger some control over what to do next. E.g. if it is a fatality, then it is obviously going to take longer to clear the lines compared to say a failed train, which could be replaced quite quickly. In that case I could decide not to travel, to wait or to travel via another route.
 

D1009

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Playing Devil's Advocate for a minute, does it matter? The train is late, which is a pain admittedly, but why do you need to know why it was late? Could be a signal check, could be a temporary speed restriction, could be a door fault at an earlier station, could be a trespasser, could be a passcom activation.
Does telling you that make a difference?
In my experience, people are happier if they are told why the railway has failed to deliver them to their destination at the advertised time than if not, particularly if the event is outside the railway's control.
 

michael769

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Playing Devil's Advocate for a minute, does it matter? The train is late, which is a pain admittedly, but why do you need to know why it was late?
...........

Does telling you that make a difference?
It is about empathy.

Passengers expect trains to run to time or thereabouts. Being stuck on a train that is stationary in the middle of nowhere when you have no idea when it will move again is stressful as it means you have no control over your journey - and this is very stressful.

Such announcements have the important psychological effect of confirming that someone somewhere knows about your plight and cares enough to acknowledge it - this has a very strong reassuring effect which helps to reduce stress. Passengers who are kept informed (even if the info is sketchy) are more patient. But even better is if you know what is going on and what progress is being made to fix it.

I know I have criticised Scotrail's failures in this regard, but I have also experienced examples where the staff have gone the extra mile. During very hot weather (with attendant TSRs) a few years ago we had to wait about 15mins for a oncoming train on a single track section. The guard on our train telephoned the guard on the "offending" train and made regular announcements as that train arrived and left the various stations - this gave us all a good impression of the progress that was being made towards get us on our way. Despite the length of the wait no one grumbled or companied.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Yes, I think that is the likeliest explanation. This is the weak point in information provision. Its not helped by the fact that staff are often out and about on the platform doing their job rather than staring at a screen looking at texts and announcements - while passengers are usually just hanging around waiting so will get to see the info.
Scotrail has made a big deal about giving all their staff Blackberrys so that they can get up to date info more quickly. Alas my experience is that at Waverely it is having little or no impact.
 

Bald Rick

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It is about empathy.

Passengers expect trains to run to time or thereabouts. Being stuck on a train that is stationary in the middle of nowhere when you have no idea when it will move again is stressful as it means you have no control over your journey - and this is very stressful.

Such announcements have the important psychological effect of confirming that someone somewhere knows about your plight and cares enough to acknowledge it - this has a very strong reassuring effect which helps to reduce stress. Passengers who are kept informed (even if the info is sketchy) are more patient. But even better is if you know what is going on and what progress is being made to fix it.
Spot on.

Contrasting examples:

Last Thursday, on one of the first, grossly overloaded FCC (Thameslink) trains northbound after a 45 min gap due to a points failure, the driver was superb. Typical quote

"Ladies and Gents, apologies from me and the railway for the delay to this train caused by a points failure at Blackfriars. I know it's a real squeeze in there, but please can you make use of all the available space so that we can get as many of your fellow passengers on as possible, and keep clear of the doors. Then I'll get you all home as quick as I can"

Not in the manuals, but it came over so well; it sounded personal and that the driver understood what we were going through. Not a single grumble from anyone, even though many would have been almost an hour late.

Compare to yesterday morning (similar chaos), on one of the few trains that did run roughly on time, again crush loaded. No announcements at all other than 'stand clear of the doors' at one station. Cue lots of angry people, and a near punch up between passengers at Mill Hill Broadway. Driver on the end of some backchat at St Pancras too.

It makes such a difference.
 

LE Greys

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Spot on.

Contrasting examples:

Last Thursday, on one of the first, grossly overloaded FCC (Thameslink) trains northbound after a 45 min gap due to a points failure, the driver was superb. Typical quote

"Ladies and Gents, apologies from me and the railway for the delay to this train caused by a points failure at Blackfriars. I know it's a real squeeze in there, but please can you make use of all the available space so that we can get as many of your fellow passengers on as possible, and keep clear of the doors. Then I'll get you all home as quick as I can"

Not in the manuals, but it came over so well; it sounded personal and that the driver understood what we were going through. Not a single grumble from anyone, even though many would have been almost an hour late.

Compare to yesterday morning (similar chaos), on one of the few trains that did run roughly on time, again crush loaded. No announcements at all other than 'stand clear of the doors' at one station. Cue lots of angry people, and a near punch up between passengers at Mill Hill Broadway. Driver on the end of some backchat at St Pancras too.

It makes such a difference.
I quite agree. I remember being stuck in the middle of the Vale of York one night, freezing cold outside on a train full of people that was backed up behind several others because of a signal failure (almost certainly cables being nicked). I found myself having to explain my rather shaky knowledge of pilotman working and move-on-sight to other people who were getting rather restless, partly because we hadn't been told anything. Maybe they didn't need to know that, but we did get the occasional announcement where the guard basically said that she didn't really know when we would be going either and that there was a steadily-declining number of trains in front of us. I imagine it can be hard when you don't know what's going on.
 

mullin

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From someone who uses trains every couple of weeks minimum, I feel it's great to know when and why things go wrong. Generally why I come here as during (major) disuption you're guaranteed an update as to what has happened / what's going on.

I've been on a train (Northern) before where we've set off from Wigan Wallgate (to SOP) where we've come to a sudden stop in the platform and told the train was cancelled. That, in my eyes is a poor announcement. To say a door failure, brake failure, mechanical failure, or even engine failure gives a reason why it has been cancelled.

Travelled with Virgin and was divered from Stafford some way (past International maybe?) south towards Euston. The announcement said there'd been a fatality on the line ahead of us and we'd be taking an alternative route, thus increasing our journey time. That's perfect imo for what a customer wants to hear. It gives a reason that the journey will be longer, but you're unsure how long, as you'd expect in such circumstances.

As for those who whinge about delays between 1 and 5 minutes, that's a whole new kettle of fish! Some of the shambles of people getting on / off trains and people running for the doors last minute (to get off) delaying the train (further). You hear an announcement along the lines of 'we are now approaching.....' and people don't move till the train stops! Argh!
 

Greenback

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You hear an announcement along the lines of 'we are now approaching.....' and people don't move till the train stops! Argh!
The ATW automated announcements for Swansea and Llanelli are made far too early. Heading into Swanse afrom the west, the announcement is played when rounding the curve by Swansea Loop West Junction, which is a good three or four minutes (on a good day) before the train actually pulls into the platform. If the train is held at the next signal, it can be a lot longer!

Anyway, I digress. You are right about giving reasons. I always found passengers far more receptive to disruption if you could give them a reason why there were delays and cancellations.
 

whhistle

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Being stuck on a train that is stationary in the middle of nowhere when you have no idea when it will move again is stressful as it means you have no control over your journey - and this is very stressful.
Then I would suggest if these people think that is very stressful, then they have no idea what stress is.
Annoying yes, stressful... I wouldn't say so in most cases.

I personally use and think the 10 minute rule is fine.
 

Welshman

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I personally don't get too stressed if my train stops unexpectedly in the middle of nowhere.

But I do get stressed very quickly if my tube train stops between stations, especially if the train is crammed. And then I am very relieved to hear the driver's announcement that we're waiting for a signal and should be moving shortly.
 

DaveNewcastle

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I'm beginning to think that there must be two kinds of stress.

One is caused by intense external pressure usually coupled with almost unachievable expectations in the face of some impediment.

The other is sitting in a railway carriage.

I'd never come across the second of these stresses until now. For instance, I would have described the experience of a tube train coming to a stand between stations as a 'brief delay' or a 'pause'. Not "very stressful".

I fully agree that a flow of relevant information can be a positive benefit to passengers (though an excess of announcments can be an annoyance), but irrespective of whether there is actually any information to communicate, there is no need to make some sort of announcement or corporate apology every time a train comes to a stand.
 

AntoniC

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Wednesday night travelling home from Brunswick to Southport (on Merseyrail) as usual.

Train approaches Hall Road and the Guard announces that due to a track defect all trains between Hillside and Southport have been cancelled and the train will terminate at Hillside and they are trying to arrange a rail replacement service between Hillside and Southport.

This announcement is then repeated regularly as we called at each station.

As the train pulls into Hillside (and everyone is getting ready to disembark) the Guard then announces the problem is fixed and we will be going to Southport.

Because she kept all the passengers updated there was no complaining and yet another example of excellent customer service by Merseyrail !.:D
 
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