VTEC to reduce number of travel centre staff

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najaB

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Does anyone, even those who made the decision, think this can be a good idea?
A partial quote, in order to comply with forum rules:
‘TRAVEL CHAOS’ cut hit passengers at Leeds, Wakefield, and Doncaster stations if plans to axe 100 jobs at travel centres go ahead, a union has warned.

Passengers could also face pricier tickets if the jobs go, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA).

It said 100 jobs were set to be axed at 12 travel centres on Virgin’s East Coast line between London and Edinburgh.

Across Yorkshire, it runs travel centres at stations in Leeds, Wakefield and Doncaster,

Ticket office staff would be moved out of officers and onto platforms to sell tickets from hand-held machines.
If the hand-held machines sell the full range of tickets then I'm not totally against it, but what are the odds they'll be Avantix?
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Yes. It's the inevitable result of the increase in on-line and ATM sales.
Do the unions think that DOR (and even BR) would have a different policy?
The way it reads, it's not job losses but a change from office to platform/train.
All TOCs will be going the same way at franchise change.
 

absolutelymilk

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The changes make sense to me, but I am not sure about these "hand-held machines" - TSSA say they will not be able to sell the full range of tickets. Is there not space to install full machines at these stations? Surely that should be the priority - getting most tickets to be sold without a member of staff being involved so that they can concentrate on the passengers with specific needs or who want to ask qs.
 

Mojo

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Starmill

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These machines will need the functionality of a full ticket office to be acceptable. As discussed on the thread about proposed changes at GTR, will they be able to do things like season ticket changeovers?
 

Starmill

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l thought the ticket office and travel centre at Leeds were both run by Northern, or did this transfer with the recent franchise change? l'm aware there's a window by the First class lounge run by East Coast but this can't affect that many.

There are four "ticket offices" at Leeds:

Main Booking Office (Northern)
Travel Centre (Northern)
Specialised Sales (Northern)
Business Collection Point (Virgin Trains East Coast)

The latter handles entry to the First Class Lounge and until Northern were capable of doing so helped with Tod queries. They still do so now, and will also sell everything else I've ever asked them for, including Advances for future travel or tickets for today.
 
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Mojo

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There are four "ticket offices" at Leeds:

Main Booking Office (Northern)
Travel Centre (Northern)
Specialised Sales (Northern)
Business Collection Point (Virgin Trains East Coast)

So the article is wrong then? Unless there really are 25 people needed to run that tiny office.
 

Bayum

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When they say 'on-platform' I'm assuming they mean, pre platform concourse?

I'm wondering how passengers get onto the platform without a ticket in Leeds !
 

Blindtraveler

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No no no no, a mistake me says. A machine cant replace the functionalitty of a staffed office wheather that be an automated customer opperated one or a staff opperated crapulous handheld that breaks down and inconveniences the customer even further!

Furthernore some stations dont have the physical space at concourse and platform entrances to cope with such a system!
 

DelayRepay

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So does this mean when my mum, who doesn't use the internet, wants to plan a journey to come and see me and buy suitable advance tickets, she has to do this on the concourse rather than at a window? Can the concourse sales assistant look up advance tickets to find the best fare, and renew her senior railcard?

I can understand a TOC moving staff out onto the concourse where the station is a commuter station and the majority of transactions can be completed by TVM, but I would not think this is the case at the VTEC stations.
 

Hadders

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This will be interesting at Stevenage where GTR operate the (soon to be closed most of the time) ticket office and VTEC operate a small travel centre.

I was told that VTEC were considering extending the opening hours of the travel centre when GTR closed the ticket office. Be interesting to see how two different sets of staff in the booking hall would work - in reality I doubt it would.
 

Bletchleyite

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So does this mean when my mum, who doesn't use the internet, wants to plan a journey to come and see me and buy suitable advance tickets, she has to do this on the concourse rather than at a window? Can the concourse sales assistant look up advance tickets to find the best fare, and renew her senior railcard?

I've been thinking about this more, and I have wondered if what is needed is the opposite of what seems to be happening at larger stations. TVMs can do the vast majority of transactions for walk-up same-day travel and passengers should be directed towards them as the default, as they are at Euston. But you could then have a "take a number and take a seat" travel centre intended to provide higher quality service but with a longer wait for those wanting advance bookings, Railcards etc who do not for whatever reason wish to make these online.
 

DarloRich

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Yes. It's the inevitable result of the increase in on-line and ATM sales.
Do the unions think that DOR (and even BR) would have a different policy?
The way it reads, it's not job losses but a change from office to platform/train.
All TOCs will be going the same way at franchise change.

It is the treatment of displaced staff and their maintenance of T&C's which is the biggest problem. Not the change.

BTW guess how much fares will reduce by.............
 
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The Ham

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On a slightly related topic, it will be interesting to see what the new SWT's video sales machines will be capable of. As if they can full the gap between TVM's and a person in a ticket office then that could be a good development, especially as they are due to be run all the time meaning that that ticket office opening times become less critical (although still needed for things like first applications for season tickets and other photo card applications).

If they work well then the number of staff at stations will drop but some will be able to relocate to the central video sales centre.
 

yorksrob

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Is this just the inevitable consequence of VTEC overextending itself (offering more premium payments than are realistic) as part of it's franchise bid, which in turn is the inevitable consequence of any public tendering process.
 

Haywain

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If the hand-held machines sell the full range of tickets then I'm not totally against it, but what are the odds they'll be Avantix?
There is absolutely no chance that the hand-held machines will be Avantix.
 

yorksrob

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So what exactly is the benefit of having booking staff loitering around on the concourse, as opposed to sitting behind a desk, or is this some sort of a wheeze to reduce terms and conditions for booking hall staff ?
 

Greenback

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From the point of view of the company, I suppose that staff on platforms and concourses are more visible, more proactive and more accessible than when they are in a booking office or travel centre.

For the passenger, though, I think there are great advantages in having a warmer and more comfortable environment in which to deal with mote complicated transactions. To be honest, I always envisaged that the traditional type of booking office would disappear as TVM's and online selling became more established. Like Neil Williams I'm a little surprised that the opposite has happened. Having said that, I suppose passenger comfort comes a long way down the list of priorities these days.
 

yorksrob

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Indeed. I think having a counter greatly improves the process of undertaking a transaction, rather than having to fumble around.
 

Bletchleyite

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So what exactly is the benefit of having booking staff loitering around on the concourse, as opposed to sitting behind a desk, or is this some sort of a wheeze to reduce terms and conditions for booking hall staff ?

I see no benefit of that at all, unless they are going to wander around a larger set of fixed TVMs and instruct passengers on their use. Give a man a fish...
 

Greenback

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I doubt that the staff on the concourse will be able to do much more than the TVM's already can. The old Travel Shop at Reading was a much more comfortable place to do business than either standing at a ticket window or on the platform! Before working there, I chose to go to the Travel Shop for railcards as it was pleasanter to sit down and speak face to face with a staff member than stand and shout through the bullet proof glass!

Presumably, the internet has seen a huge reduction in face to face transactions of this nature, so I reckon the decision has been driven by money, as all these kind of thin gs seem to be. The rent for the space used by travel centres probably amounts to quite a lot.
 

47271

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I change trains at Newcastle a lot but, until the other day, never had cause to visit the ticket office. I knew where it used to be, in that glass box to the left of the gateline. They must've moved it to the front door to be more convenient I thought. I went out there but there's nothing but a load of TVMs in attractive copper boxes which look very nice but were no good for what I needed.

Back on the main concourse, I took me a minute or so scanning the distance - and I've got good eyesight - to spot a sign towards a small door to the right of the platforms where the TPE and Cross Country terminators go from.

Is making VTEC ticket offices impossible to find part of the evil plan to get rid of ticket office staff I wonder?
 

Matt Taylor

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I noticed this too on a recent visit to Newcastle, it should be so easy at a station like Newcastle where the booking hall should be right there at the entrance. Now the ticket office is tucked away in a corner meanwhile we are expected to deal with TVMs out in the cold. The only people benefitting are VTEC and HM Treasury.
 

misterredmist

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I do believe premises costs will be a major factor, and no doubt the Stations can take a mega rental fee from one of the major "chain outlets" who will no doubt move in to the empty Travel Centres - at the same time, the Staff moving on to the platforms will eventually be replaced by bearded 'Droids.

In all seriousness, very sad though it is, it's an inevitable consequence of the amount of ticket purchase conducted on-line, for which I plead guilty. I use both the ECML and WCML once a month and travel into London twice a month, and I've only bought a ticket once at a counter - a group ticket from Luton Parkway to St. Pancras...

I just hope there's enough work out there to keep these people in a job, and I am sure all the TOC's can look after the staff if they try hard enough.
 

Greenback

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There should be enough work, but the difficulty will be persuading a company that the staff add value to them for the amount they cost. It's difficult to calculate how much value on concourse staff bring to a business, and how much, if any, additional revenue they bring in.

The bean counters are always looking to save money, and should the employees not sell sufficient tickets when they are out and about,t hen I do have concerns for the future, as they will be one of the easiest roles to cut. Even in the best case scenario, I suspect that those who retire or leave just won't be replaced.
 

Bletchleyite

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I'm not sure that tickets purchased online are a bad thing - it's just progress. It is much more convenient than having to go to the station. That is sad for the staff concerned, but such is progress.

TVMs are also not a bad thing - if for no other reason than that you can get two slimline ones in the space of one ticket window, and have staff help people with them.

But it would be nice if the fare structure was simplified properly so using them would be easier.
 

johntea

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The online thing is a big killer - especially the fact pretty much anywhere with a mobile signal I can book tickets online and collect them seconds later from literally any TVM across the network.

Bit like how banks are closing branches due to online banking I guess, there will always be the small minority who oppose the change but they aren't large enough to pay the bills at the end of the day.
 
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