Virgin trains leaving Euston early?

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cakehoover

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Hello, I'm new to these forums and don't know loads about the railway system so please be gentle :)

I've just got on the 19.40 Virgin Trains service from London Euston to Manchester, and it left early.

The train started moving at approximately 19.39 and 30 seconds - the guard had blown his whistle roughly 10 seconds earlier than that.

I know the station time because I caught a glimpse of the station clock as we pulled out - the train was moving and gathering speed at exactly 19.39 and 40 seconds.

Are Virgin Trains allowed to let their trains depart early like this?

I know there is a station rule at Euston that passengers may not be allowed on to the platform up to 2 minutes before scheduled departure time, but I'm not asking about that. I'm asking whether they are actually allowed to let their trains start moving before the scheduled departure time, and if not, whether such incidents should be reported.

All advice gratefully received!
 
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RailUK Forums

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If access to the platform is closed, then why should the train wait there if it is ready to leave?

19:40 is the time the train pulls away from the station, not the last time possible to board it.

Two timetables exist anyway:

1) The Working Timetable (internal use only, technical content)
2) Public Timetable

The two don't always match.
 

calc7

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Happened plenty of times for me. Especially the 00 20 40 Manchester ones which have a lot of empty track ahead of them.

Not sure of the official status, but I guess that passengers who are expected to board by T minus 2 minutes don't have a leg to stand on.
 

All Line Rover

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As you know, passengers are not permitted to board Virgin Trains services at Euston within 2 minutes of scheduled departure time, and because of that, trains frequently leave early once all the doors have closed. In my experience, it is not a rare occurrence.
 

cakehoover

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> 19:40 is the time the train pulls away from the station, not the last time possible to board it.

Except 19:40 is not the time the train pulls away from the station! The train pulled away at 19:39 and 30 seconds.

Two questions:

1. Why not just call the train the 19.38, if it's actually allowed to depart at any time after 19.38:00?

2. Are Virgin trains allowed to depart early from other stations, or just London Euston?
 

calc7

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Trains don't always depart right on the departure time, presumably for a variety of reasons.

My train due to depart Yorton (Shrops) at xx01 yesterday departed at xx59.40 - and that's where the service is 2-hourly!
 

All Line Rover

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> 19:40 is the time the train pulls away from the station, not the last time possible to board it.

Except 19:40 is not the time the train pulls away from the station! The train pulled away at 19:39 and 30 seconds.

Two questions:

1. Why not just call the train the 19.38, if it's actually allowed to depart at any time after 19.38:00?
Because then people would try to run down the platform and try to board the (soon to be 11-carriage) train, 10 seconds before it departs, which would cause the train to be delayed.

Personally I have no issues with the 2-minute rule - if you have a non-flexible Advance ticket, you should be at the station well before your booked train departs. If you have a flexible ticket, take the next train - with a 20 minute frequency you can't complain!

2. Are Virgin trains allowed to depart early from other stations, or just London Euston?
Yes, although not as long as 2 minutes. An example would be Birmingham New Street, which I believe is 40 seconds. Trains only pull away early at stations where posters indicate this is the case.
 

transportphoto

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It is widely advertised that platform entry at Euston for Virgin services closes 2 mins before departure and that doors can close upto 40 seconds before departure. If doors are shut and they have the road, there is nothing stopping a slightly early departure. As others are saying, if you are booked onto a specific train you should be arriving at the station with enough time to catch that train, if you are on a flexible you have to be prepared to cope with the inconvenience caused. AFAIAA Doors across the VT network are advertised as closing 40 secs prior, the two min rule onto the platform is widely advertised at Euston.


TP
 

calc7

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It's also not uncommon for the details to be removed from the departure boards between 2 and 3 minutes before departure. Which can be really annoying when you're nimble and happy to sprint. <D
 

All Line Rover

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Trains don't leave Birmingham New Street 40 seconds early. 40 seconds is the time where the door close procedure starts
Sorry, yes, I didn't make that very clear! Although if the doors are closed 40 seconds before departure, there is nothing to stop the train from pulling away early. Ever so slightly early.

I left Birmingham New Street all of 10 seconds early once!! How exciting!
 

cakehoover

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Thanks all, I didn't mean to re-open a can of worms.

I did a Google for "leaving early" on railforums.co.uk before I wrote and didn't see many other relevant discussions - links would be appreciated!

I would take issue with one thing though. I don't agree that the 40-second rule is widely advertised across the Virgin network. Maybe it's at stations, but it doesn't seem to be on their site, for example, which is where I'd find it: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q="40+seconds"+site:virgintrains.co.uk

(I didn't know about the rule, which is why I wrote on here. I didn't miss the train, I was just surprised to see it leaving early.)

Do any other train companies have the same policy, or just Virgin?
 

185

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Within the last minute before depart time is acceptable, any earlier than 60 seconds prior would be of concern to me - one (big) train company used to encourage locking up well earlier than this, but they are sadly (lol) no longer with us.

As a rule I used to work on 00.00.30s blow whistle 00.00.40s press close 00.00.50 shut your own 00.00.55ish - buzz buzz
 

bignosemac

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Concede the point about mainline stations.

Us folks on the Severn Beach Line cope quite adequately without a 40 sec warning poster!
 

cakehoover

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Within the last minute before depart time is acceptable, any earlier than 60 seconds prior would be of concern to me - one (big) train company used to encourage locking up well earlier than this, but they are sadly (lol) no longer with us.

As a rule I used to work on 00.00.30s blow whistle 00.00.40s press close 00.00.50 shut your own 00.00.55ish - buzz buzz
That sounds completely reasonable :)

But I do wonder if train companies could communicate the 40-second rule better to passengers.

I travel once or twice a week on the Virgin west coast main line, and consider myself a reasonably well-informed person, and yet until this thread I literally had no idea that the 40-second rule existed.

Perhaps you could be told about it when you booked an Advance ticket online? And it could be communicated in a friendly way, something like this:

"We want our trains to leave promptly and safely, to help our passengers. If everything's running smoothly, your train should leave the station at exactly 19:40:00 - so please make sure you're on the train by 19:39:20 at the latest, so that your conductor can prepare the train for a safe departure."

Well, just a thought :)
 
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221129

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Lol i saw a load of people runnig for a paignton bound train at EXD the other day but they got to the top of the stairs when the dispatch routine commenced
 

cakehoover

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FGW advertise at all stations thaat their trains doors lock 40 secs before departure
I've never noticed these posters at Virgin stations, although perhaps I'm just extremely unobservant (well, clearly I am, I've just demonstrated it).

But I bet lots of other passengers are too, and half the folk who argue just don't know about the rule.
 

exile

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National Rail states barriers close at Euston 2 minutes early and train doors close 1 minute early. But that's only shown on the web page for Euston station. Is it printed on tickets?
 

Minilad

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That sounds completely reasonable :)

But I do wonder if train companies could communicate the 40-second rule better to passengers.

I travel once or twice a week on the Virgin west coast main line, and consider myself a reasonably well-informed person, and yet until this thread I literally had no idea that the 40-second rule existed.

Perhaps you could be told about it when you booked an Advance ticket online? And it could be communicated in a friendly way, something like this:

"We want our trains to leave promptly and safely. If everything's running smoothly, your train should leave the station at exactly 19:40:00 - so please make sure you're on the train by 19:39:20 at the latest, so that your conductor can prepare the train for a safe departure."

Well, just a thought :)
There are almost certainly posters saying much the same as this on major stations where this policy is in effect
 

All Line Rover

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National Rail states barriers close at Euston 2 minutes early and train doors close 1 minute early. But that's only shown on the web page for Euston station. Is it printed on tickets?
No. There's no room!

But I agree that mentioning the 2 minute (Euston) or 40 second (New Street) rule in the booking confirmation e-mail would be helpful.
 
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