VT Advance and late trains

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Goatboy, 27 Dec 2013.

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  1. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    The TM was convinced she had missed the train and apparently didn't change this opinion when it was explained that the train hadn't been missed but had not arrived due to a severe delay. I'm not entirely sure what his actions would have been if he hadn't have held this belief or why he held this belief. However it does seem that even if he knew the train was delayed, it is VT policy that she couldnt have boarded it, which makes the TM now almost irrelevent in this story. I've therefore no 'beef' with the TM but plenty of 'beef' with VT policy :D


    I think you misinterpreted my point. I am saying that from this thread it sounds like it is VT policy to NOT allow service, therefore it is appropriate that my greivence is with VT themselves and not the original TM who, frustrating as it may be, was simply following his rulebook.

    This does seem entirely counterproductive though. I'm not sure what this restriction is supposed to acheive?

    Significant delay on the railways is, despite peoples moaning, reasonably rare. I personally travel on Advance Purchase tickets myself reasonably often and have never found myself in a similar position, significant delays like this are rare enough that I've always been able to board the booked service.

    Therefore it seems unlikely that the purpose of such a 'rule' is to reduce the attractiveness of Advance purchase fares and justify the lower cost. This is already well catered for by removing the passengers choice to select different trains in times when the service is running, as it does the vast majority of the time, perfectly.

    But to restrict the choice to mitigate delay when there are service disruptions? I don't see how anyone - TOC or passenger - benefits from such a thing. On a high frequency service operation - trains run to Euston every 20 minutes - there is no real need for a passenger to be significantly delayed unless there is a major issue en-route. There will always be another train shortly after if there is a problem with the original train. In this particular case the delay was caused by something over 100 miles North of Birmingham, it was just unfortunate she'd booked a ticket on the one train an hour that came all the way from Scotland. 99% of the normal travelling public would never consider that sort of thing.

    With such a high frequency service the TOC can easily mitigate the effect of such delays and the detrimental effect it has on passengers - they can simply permit travel on the next train they operate. Not the next train irrespective of TOC, but the next one they operate.

    Who 'wins' from the decision to hold the customer at New Street (or anywhere) for an hour, during which time two further services departed for the destination on the ticket?



    Infact this is an interesting one! I've just checked my next VT ticket. Annoyingly I appear to have done the same thing again and selected the xx:10 service, so it's coming from Scotland. But this time my destination is London International CIV with a further onward connection to Thalys. I do hope we don't have a similar situation :D It would turn into quite a nightmare if I did.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2014
  2. John @ home

    John @ home Established Member Fares Advisor

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    An international treaty comes to your aid in the event of delay when travelling on a CIV ticket.
     
  3. IanD

    IanD Established Member

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    Was authority to travel on these 2 services sought? The TM of those may have been more sympathetic.
     
  4. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    One of those two services was the train in question actually, so there was only another one afterwards. Authority to travel was not sought on the second one, no.
     
  5. RochdalePioneers

    RochdalePioneers Member

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    Having dipped in and out of this saga I've got two observations.

    One - it's not the TMs fault, it's the policy/training. Does it make any sense to inconvenience the passenger and cost your company money? No. But if that's what you are instructed to do by rules and training and a belief that you are acting as expected by your managers then you do it.

    Two - glad to see that common sense has left the building. No room for common sense and the obvious when there's contracts to administer and key performance indicators to detail every action to the nth degree......
     
  6. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    Right, this is what we have been trying to get to the bottom of from the start. Can you provide a copy of, or link to, Virgin's policy please.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2014
  7. drbdrb

    drbdrb Member

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    That is not the impression I have gained.

    It seems to me that the train manager considers the train to be their personal fiefdom, where they can do as they wish. Any loss or benefit to their employer from their actions is a secondary consideration.
     
  8. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I would certainly expect that benefits or losses to their employer are of secondary concern to the TMs.

    Naturally the first things on their mind should be safety, then probably consideration as to whether they will get in trouble for not following employer policies and I don't blame them for thinking that.

    Do you know what Virgin's policies are?
     
  9. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Interesting response by Virgin on twitter.

     
  10. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    Well that seems to be the most official thing yet, although it is certainly not detailed enough for an actual policy. Hope Rochdale Pioneers , who seemed to know what Virgin's policy was, comes back with a link.
     
  11. Gerald Fiennes

    Gerald Fiennes Member

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    We've now gone through nearly a week of posts here and don't seem to be very clear either what the legal position under the terms and conditions of the ticket are or what VT's policy on this kind of thing in reality is (other than the twitter post above, which may or may not be their actual policy)! Taken altogether, the post brings out once again that buying Advance fares is a bit of game of roulette, modified so that if you lose you lose big. That certainly puts me off using them but since a big part of the reason for Advance fares is to expand the market by appealing to more price sensitive customers who can accept tighter conditions (that's me, by the way!) and chanelling customers to less crowded trains, this also damages rail revenue. I don't have to make all the trips I do: some are for leisure and my idea of leisure is not playing a strange game the denouement of which is having to cough for an SOS fare at the insistence of the few, less than helpful train managers that remain out there if trains are late/connections missed and/or there are no customer service staff to talk to before boarding a train. As others have said, it's a lose/lose situation: time for someone to set out some clear rules!
     
  12. IanXC

    IanXC Emeritus Moderator

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    I think you're getting too caught up in the word "their". Virgin placed certain roles and responsibilities for operating the train in the hands of the TM, it is therefore described as "their train". Do you object to a Post Office clerk having "their till" or a department store manager having "their store"? In all these cases an employer has delegated operation of something to an employee based on certain rules and regulations, if that includes discretion then the employer is empowering the employee to use that as they see fit, subject to any guidance given. None of which stops it being the TM's train and the TOCs train.
     
  13. Tetchytyke

    Tetchytyke Established Member

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    This is what The Manual has to say on the subject...

    There is a mobile version of the staff Live Departure Boards website and I would imagine the TM would have had access to this website on his PDA (or failing that, just use realtimetrains!). It would have taken seconds to check this out, even if he couldn't see the station departure boards.

    I'd certainly take this to mean the TM was incorrect in how he handled the situation, given both trains were Virgin.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2014
  14. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    Seconds? really?

    Which is an odd conclusion to draw considering Q22 doesn't even mention delays to trains before the journey begins.......
     
  15. 87 027

    87 027 Member

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    Indeed, I'm not sure we've definitively answered the original question of what is VT's policy (if any) where the train is already severely delayed before the passenger even boards
     
  16. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    I do not deny what DaveNewcastle has said, but taking the extract from the manual at face value, if rule (1) is that the passenger must turn up in time for the start of their journey, and rule (2) is that, once the journey has begun, passengers may travel on another train if there is a delay, with no other rule mentioned, the only logical inference is that rule (2) applies from the moment the passenger has fulfilled rule (1), otherwise a gap would be created between rule (1) and rule (2).

    It may be that, from a legal perspective, the journey does not start until the passenger boards the train they were booked on, but no benefit is derived from trying to apply this distinction to alternative travel arrangements during delays, nor is there any logical reason for doing so. Is there really a need for a third rule along the lines of "if the passenger has turned up in time for the start of their journey but the train they were booked to travel on is delayed, that passenger may travel on an alternative train that departs between the time their booked train was due to depart and the time their booked train actually departs"?

    The proposition put forward by some posters that passengers should not buy Advance tickets if they want 'flexibility' lacks foundation. Passengers who purchase Advance tickets sacrifice flexibility by turning up for the specific train they were booked to travel on. If that train is delayed, nothing is achieved by forcing that passenger to wait (other than annoying them and allowing them to claim Delay Repay), which is why I believe no TOC would have such a policy.

    The proposition also creates a large amount of unnecessary uncertainty. For example, what happens if the train is ready to board, but is delayed in departing? Has that passenger 'started their journey' despite the train not having moved?

    If the answer is no, why not? Does it seem logical to claim that someone hasn't started a journey despite boarding the very train they were booked on?

    If the answer is yes, what, then, is the justification for drawing a distinction between a train which is delayed in departing and is ready to board, and a train which is delayed in departing and is not ready to board? Does the ability to physically sit or stand on the booked train, which has not yet moved, really justify such a distinction?

    I do not expect an answer to these questions. I simply raise them to demonstrate the absurd consequences/ambiguities that could arise by following the proposition put forward by some on this forum.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2014
  17. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    Re: 'Before the Journey Begins'

    a) Does the journey not begin once you arrive at the station?

    b) In this specific example the journey actually began at a London Midland station with another ticket earlier (with 1 hour allowed to change onto the booked Advance service at New Street). I hadn't mentioned this previously because I didn't think it was particularly relevant.
     
  18. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    Is it? Q22 does not specifically answer this query, your inference could be one reason, another could be that this sequence of events was not considered when writing the answer to Q22. Both seem equally logical to me.

    Clearly there is.

    I would suggest it is a consideration when booking the ticket, rather than a simple yes/no option.

    Not all TOCs have Delay Repay schemes and not everyone eligible for compensation will apply for it, further, not everyone will wait for the delayed train and may pay extra to avoid it, thus removing their eligibility for compensation. Since we cannot reliably say who has done what, how much they had to pay and indeed who is eligible for compensation, not to mention who actually ends up paying the compensation, the constant reiteration that the company loses out seems little more than a convenient line to give the impression of genuine reasoning. It may well be the case that TOCs benefit from these situations, but I suspect that would not be a convenient argument/opinion.

    We don't know Virgin Train's policy on this, perhaps if, or when, we do, we might have a better understanding of the situation.

    I draw your attention to the lack of definition of 'journey'. Google tells me 'Journey' is "an act of travelling from one place to another", if we are not moving we cannot be travelling and so we have not started our journey. Equally, could our journey have started at the ticket barrier or station entrance? There simply is no answer to this until 'journey' is properly defined. I would suggest, however, that as the 'contract' is travel from one station to another, that the journey can only really begin when the train departs.

    Perception is a wonderful thing. I would suggest these 'ambiguities' come about as people seek to benefit from situations. I mean no offence when I say that, but it seems to me that 'ambiguity' exists because people look for it.

    It could be very relevant to that specific situation in that by the time the 1330 arrives the traveller has been delayed (by 20 minutes).
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2014
  19. All Line Rover

    All Line Rover Established Member

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    Delayed departures are just as common an occurrence as delayed connections, particularly at stations with a large number of terminating trains such as Birmingham New Street and London Euston.

    I find it hard to believe that the writer of "Frequently Asked Questions about travelling with Advance fares" would consider what should happen before a train is due to depart and what should happen once a train has departed and is delayed, but not what should happen between when a train is due to depart and when it actually departs.

    Perhaps the writer of this FAQ thought the argument surrounding the definition of "journey" was such a non-issue that he/she did not see fit to include the third rule I mentioned.

    I disagree. I believe that, from an operational perspective, there is, on the whole, no ambiguity regarding the definition of the word 'journey'. This thread is a rarity. I made over 100 journeys with VT last year, about 10 of which had such serious disruption that I travelled on an alternative train. On almost every one of those occasions my ticket was checked (somewhat to my surprise, although perhaps being in First Class was a contributory factor), and on no occasion did the Train Manager object.

    In addition, there is no suggestion that the Train Manager in this very thread thought there was any ambiguity regarding the word 'journey'. He simply denied travel and refused to look at the departure boards. He did not say "Your journey has not yet started. You are not entitled to travel on this later train if your booked train is delayed." (And, had he said this, he would be incorrect in this particular instance given the passenger had already started their journey at another station.)

    The proposition that the word 'journey' is ambiguous in an operational railway context, and needs to be considered ambiguous, is what creates further ambiguity and anomalies.

    In fact, looking at the FAQ once more, I believe it is even more clear cut than I first thought.

    Rule 1 says: "It is the passenger’s responsibility to turn up at the start of the journey in time for the first train." It does not say the start of the journey begins when the first train departs. No connection is drawn between the actual departure of the train and the start of the journey. The passenger must turn up "at the start of the journey" (so the journey has started) in time for the first train.

    Rule 2 then goes on to consider what should happen "once the journey has begun" (the journey having already started in rule 1 despite the word 'depart' not being used at all).

    So, in summary, I disagree with your proposition that there "clearly is" a need for a third rule.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2014
  20. snail

    snail Established Member

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    Your interpretation. It doesn't contain any definition about when the journey (an act of travelling from one place to another according to the OED) begins in this context.
     
  21. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    I can't say that I have ever conversed with the writer of the FAQs and as such cannot comment on what (s)he considered. The fact that you find it 'hard to believe' does not exclude the possibility that such an occurrence happened, nor does it make it unlikely.

    You said that you were 'simply pointing out' the 'absurd consequences/ambiguities' that 'could arise by following the propositions of some of those on this forum'. Forgive me for thinking you believe there is an ambiguity somewhere. I find it interesting that my points on two separate parts of your post have been made to look like one, brings a whole new meaning to them.

    I'm not sure that is the point being made in the thread as a whole, though I take the point that in the op's case the guard was apparently very dismissive with no real attempt to confirm either way. That said, the op has only just brought this new information to the thread and we do not know if this formed part of the conversation with the Train Manager or not. If the Train Manager was not aware of that information then (s)he could not make a decision based on that information. It would be unfair to judge the Train Manager on information they did not have.

    The passenger must be 'at the start of the journey in time for the first service'. The fact that part of the sentence already mentions time suggests to me that "at the start of the journey" is not a reference to the time, but actually a reference to the place, the origin station perhaps.

    The actual conditions of the Advance ticket specifically mentions being at 'the departure station shown on the ticket' in good time to catch the first train.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2014
  22. Tetchytyke

    Tetchytyke Established Member

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    The journey begins when you get to the station in time for your first train. Trying to argue anything else is ridiculous (though TOCs are frequently ridiculous, it has to be said). One can draw parallels with the airline industry, where an airline has a duty to look after you if you are delayed at the airport. They cannot get out of it by saying you don't start your journey until you walk down the Airgate.

    However it would be nice if ATOC were to clarify it one way or the other.

    The reply to a Delay Repay claim- without mentioning you didn't catch the 1330- would be very illuminating.

    As for the TM, there's no reason why he could not have checked the delays on his PDA, had he been minded to. Obviously he wasn't minded to, choosing to believe the customer had simply missed their train. That is poor customer service, whichever way you slice it.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2014
  23. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    Time would be one reason, it is actually good customer service to the passengers already on the train to ensure the train departed on time!
     
  24. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    You may find them absurd. I find them to be the inevitable consequence of looking for precise meaning where it has not been given. So, maybe it is ambiguous. And maybe it is not; but it doesn't provide a framework which you find coherent and easy to anticipate in all circumstances. For what it's worth, I wouldn't expect that any set of conditions can be read to provide consistent and clear responses to all conceivable combinations of circumstances.
    I have seen no basis for this assertion anywhere, and certainly not in this thread (despite the best efforts of All Line Rover and yourself).
    'Ridiculous', indeed.

    I've already presented my own position, which is that the evidence we do have appears to suggest that the journey does not begin "when you get to the station" (irregardless of the requirement to arrive at the station in good time) but begins when the booked train is boarded or alternatively, when it departs.

    I would actually be surprised if there was any evidential support for the view that "the journey begins when you get to the station". While some duties, responsibilities and obligations will begin to apply to a Railway Operator at that time, it seems to me quite clear that a 'journey' has not begun and may not even be forthcoming.

    So what do those views bring to the debate? They don't seem to be relevant at all!
    Maybe they don't bring a 'benefit' and maybe they lack logical coherence. So what?

    It is a matter of fact, as hairyhandedfool has already reminded us, that the term 'Journey' is not robustly defined in any applicable Statute, in any terms and conditions, nor in Case Law; though the Case Law does provide clear assistance in the case of a special ticket which is only applicable for travel on a specific train:

    To refer to the judgement by Lord Alverstone CJ in Ashton v Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Co [1903] 2 KB 313, the contract is for a specific journey : it "confers leave only to travel by one transitus. . . . . not to perform [the elements of the contract] piecemeal".
     
    Last edited: 7 Jan 2014
  25. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    The train started from New Street and I would imagine the interaction took place 10-15 minutes prior to departure. She had calmly stood beside the train awaiting his arrival as it seemed fairly obvious that showing up expecting to have a discussion with the TM a few seconds before departure wasn't good for anyone involved.
     
    Last edited: 7 Jan 2014
  26. Tetchytyke

    Tetchytyke Established Member

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    I guess this is the problem with much of The Manual, in that eventualities that are covered are dealt with well, but the rest is left open to any interpretation you want.

    The section of Q22 I cut out referred to combinations of tickets, and it stated that the "journey" starts with the first ticket, not the first advance ticket. That makes it clear that if a delay occurs en route then a passenger can take the first train with the same operator.

    This is the section I cut before:
    This leaves us in the situation where a passenger who has, say, a University-New Street single and then a Virgin Trains advance ticket can board a different train to get them to their destination with the least delay if there are delays whilst en route. It is therefore counter-intuitive to suggest that the person who starts at University can board the 1330 (for example), but the person who starts at New Street cannot.

    You are quite right, though: it is not spelled out. And we all know that TOC rules can often be counter-intuitive.

    As I said, I would find the response to a Delay Repay claim to be very enlightening.
     
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