VTEC to reduce number of travel centre staff

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Greenback

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Progress is all very well, but I think we also need to progress away from conventional thinking about work if we continue to replace human beings with machines. There simply wont' be enough jobs to go round, there aren't enough at the moment and things will only get worse.
 
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absolutelymilk

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Progress is all very well, but I think we also need to progress away from conventional thinking about work if we continue to replace human beings with machines. There simply wont' be enough jobs to go round, there aren't enough at the moment and things will only get worse.

UK employment is at record levels so I'm not sure where this worry is coming from.
 

Bletchleyite

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Progress is all very well, but I think we also need to progress away from conventional thinking about work if we continue to replace human beings with machines. There simply wont' be enough jobs to go round, there aren't enough at the moment and things will only get worse.

Skillsets required are changing, but machines create jobs as well. The massive IT industry basically did not exist as recently as the 1960s.
 

misterredmist

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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.

Ah yes, the dreaded bean counters, I've worked at two organisations that were functioning perfectly well, then the owners got greedy, brought the BC's in, and both companies went under within 5 years. BC's destroy, it's easy to destroy - it takes imagination and courage to create........
 

Bletchleyite

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Ah yes, the dreaded bean counters, I've worked at two organisations that were functioning perfectly well, then the owners got greedy, brought the BC's in, and both companies went under within 5 years. BC's destroy, it's easy to destroy - it takes imagination and courage to create........

I would agree in principle - but equally modernisation is sometimes needed. I would rather a bank of say 12 TVMs with a couple of assistance staff and a travel-agent-style sit-down no-glass travel centre with a "take a number" setup and the time to spend with you looking at complex enquiries than a row of 6 ticket windows with glass between you and the clerk.

I don't see the point in people walking around with Avantix other than bean-counting.
 

misterredmist

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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.

I could not agree more Neil, I love the convenience of buying tickets on line, especially as I live out in the sticks, TVM's are fine too , I just hope the staff are given a fair and realistic opportunity for continued employment within the system.....
 

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At the risk of dragging this thread mildly off-topic - has there been any research done as to the relative average transaction times of TVMs and ticket offices?
 

DarloRich

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I would agree in principle - but equally modernisation is sometimes needed. I would rather a bank of say 12 TVMs with a couple of assistance staff and a travel-agent-style sit-down no-glass travel centre with a "take a number" setup and the time to spend with you looking at complex enquiries than a row of 6 ticket windows with glass between you and the clerk.

I don't see the point in people walking around with Avantix other than bean-counting.

I could not agree more Neil, I love the convenience of buying tickets on line, especially as I live out in the sticks, TVM's are fine too , I just hope the staff are given a fair and realistic opportunity for continued employment within the system.....

But then go through MKC early on a Monday morning and the ticket office queue is out of the door with people buying monthly and weekly seasons. There needs to be a mixed approach to selling.
 

ainsworth74

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Perhaps it's just me but it doesn't read like they're closing the Travel Centres totally only that they're reducing the staff that are in them and moving the remainder out on to platforms/concourses. So people needing to buy APs or plan journeys or buy railcards will be able to do so but otherwise tickets for immediate travel will be TVMs or hand-held from the staff.

That's what it suggests to me at least!

The population is also at a record high.

And how many people are under employed? Doing part time work or low paid work because they cannot get anything else as the full time well paid jobs don't exist anymore?
 

Bletchleyite

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But then go through MKC early on a Monday morning and the ticket office queue is out of the door with people buying monthly and weekly seasons. There needs to be a mixed approach to selling.

That requires a new approach to season ticket selling - buying online and having it tagged to your credit/debit card is one way, direct debit monthly seasons another good way, mobile phones a third way. It is wasteful to have the main way of selling season tickets as in person at the station when most people know they are going to want them in advance, and many will be Internet savvy.
 

TheEscapist_

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The travel centre in Edinburgh at the weekend can be really busy too. Lots of tourists who don't know how to use the machines. And people like the advance ticket section at the back where they take a number and there is seats for them to wait.


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Bletchleyite

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The travel centre in Edinburgh at the weekend can be really busy too. Lots of tourists who don't know how to use the machines. And people like the advance ticket section at the back where they take a number and there is seats for them to wait.

Something like a "Trainline machine" selling tickets for specific trains with a journey planner could well remove some of those. DB have had this for years.
 

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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 ?

If the ticket offices close, it's fairly straightforward to argue that our job no longer exists, so the company can legally make us redundant. Of course, headcount will be at least maintained with these new roles - but with favourable T&Cs consigned to history. Where I am for example, Sunday working is voluntary, paid at time + 75% and working hours are family friendly. The ambassador role has Sundays inside the working week, no such enhancement and working hours potentially round the clock.
 
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Greenback

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And how many people are under employed? Doing part time work or low paid work because they cannot get anything else as the full time well paid jobs don't exist anymore?

Exactly. Statistics can 'prove' anything you want. It's a bit meaning less to say that employment is at a high without any context.

I don't want to get too off topic, so I'll just say that I'm not against advancement and progress. I rarely visit a ticket office, never mind a travel centre these days, so I'm not surprised at this development, just cautious about the wider effect that things like this have.
 

DarloRich

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That requires a new approach to season ticket selling - buying online and having it tagged to your credit/debit card is one way, direct debit monthly seasons another good way, mobile phones a third way. It is wasteful to have the main way of selling season tickets as in person at the station when most people know they are going to want them in advance, and many will be Internet savvy.

so says the man not getting the sack ;)
 

skyhigh

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I assume this will mean the VTEC ticket office at Stevenage closing? I never really understood why there was one right next to the GTR one, but it would be a shame - the staff there are very good.
 

Bletchleyite

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so says the man not getting the sack ;)

Jobs in businesses exist to perform a function, not for the sake of having jobs.

Enabling business to add value using work is a better way to create them than keeping them for keeping them's sake. The IT industry itself is a clear demonstrator of this.
 

Greenback

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I don't think we are yet at a stage where human beings can be replaced entirely by machines within a retail function.
 

DarloRich

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Jobs in businesses exist to perform a function, not for the sake of having jobs.

Enabling business to add value using work is a better way to create them than keeping them for keeping them's sake. The IT industry itself is a clear demonstrator of this.

Again this is a very easy argument to make when not at risk of redundancy. I prefer to focus on the human aspect of these changes and the impact of change on people. I wonder why others don't?

The outcome of changes like these are not to create jobs but to remove people from a business with personally advantageous t&c.
 

Bletchleyite

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The outcome of changes like these are not to create jobs but to remove people from a business with personally advantageous t&c.

That isn't their sole purpose, though.

I personally find it substantially better service to be able to book travel of all kinds online with no human intervention. Some humans should remain for those who don't find it better service, but the side effect will mean fewer humans in those jobs.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Again this is a very easy argument to make when not at risk of redundancy. I prefer to focus on the human aspect of these changes and the impact of change on people. I wonder why others don't?

Because change is a given? Most people don't like it, but that won't make it go away.

GTR, for instance, are utterly failing at change management.
 

DarloRich

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That isn't their sole purpose, though.
it often is. To think otherwise is naive. That or I am a suspicious and cynical individual who trusts no one ;)

I personally find it substantially better service to be able to book travel of all kinds online with no human intervention. Some humans should remain for those who don't find it better service, but the side effect will mean fewer humans in those jobs.

I don't often use a booking office but i still do if i need tickets that cant be sold by a machine or the journey is complex. An example: tonight I need to buy a railcard that i need to use on Friday night. At present i need a human for that.


Because change is a given? Most people don't like it, but that won't make it go away.

GTR, for instance, are utterly failing at change management.

You make my point. Change is not the issue, the overlooking of the human impact is, often by people for whom the human impact is several steps removed. Change management is, too often, done in a cack handed manner by people who don't really understand the jobs of those they seek to remove.

I have been one of the humans no longer needed ( I hope you never are). It isn't pleasant and led to me almost loosing my house, my sanity and my financial standing and control. It led to the disposal of most of my possessions to meet bills and the break up of my relationship. It isn't nice. That's why i will always focus on that aspect and challenge those who don't or seek to dismiss concerns of individuals in a callous manner.
 
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absolutelymilk

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The population is also at a record high.

Employment is measured as a percentage of the population.

I don't think we are yet at a stage where human beings can be replaced entirely by machines within a retail function.

Not yet, but while there will always be people who prefer to speak to a real person when buying their tickets, they should not be effectively subsidised by other passengers who are quite happy to get a ticket from a (much cheaper) machine - there shouldn't really be a need for more than one or two staff selling tickets at a time at medium sized stations.
 

Greenback

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Employment is measured as a percentage of the population.

Where can I can I find out that employment, measured as a percentage of the total population, is at it's highest ever level? Does this take into account people who are in part time work despite wanting full time job? Does it also account for others who are economically inactive but not by choice? You don't have to answer, as it's technically going to be off topic for this thread...


Not yet, but while there will always be people who prefer to speak to a real person when buying their tickets, they should not be effectively subsidised by other passengers who are quite happy to get a ticket from a (much cheaper) machine - there shouldn't really be a need for more than one or two staff selling tickets at a time at medium sized stations.


I wasn't referring to personal preference as much as the fact that machines can't yet do everything that a human being can. Instant refunds come to mind for a start, as well as on the spot railcards, and most probably lots of other things that I haven't even thought of.

It will probably happen one day, but we aren't there yet.
 

absolutelymilk

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Where can I can I find out that employment, measured as a percentage of the total population, is at it's highest ever level? Does this take into account people who are in part time work despite wanting full time job? Does it also account for others who are economically inactive but not by choice?

Office for National Statistics

"The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.1%, the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971."

It does include people who are in part time work despite wanting full time job yes.

"The inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive) was 21.7%, the joint lowest since comparable records began in 1971."


I wasn't referring to personal preference as much as the fact that machines can't yet do everything that a human being can. Instant refunds come to mind for a start, as well as on the spot railcards, and most probably lots of other things that I haven't even thought of.

True, but the people who want do these things in person rather than online should be prepared to have a longer wait.
 

Greenback

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So, not at an all time high at all then, just a high since 1971. I doubt we'll get anywhere near the employment levels of the 1950's.

I agree that speed is an advantage of using a machine, at least when there are enough of them so that queues don't form! I only used to go to the travel Shop when I had plenty of time!
 

Bletchleyite

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it often is. To think otherwise is naive. That or I am a suspicious and cynical individual who trusts no one ;)

I'd suggest to perhaps moderate that a bit. The proverbial "win win situation" does exist to some extent. I win by being able to book an easyJet flight or a train ticket at 3am without faffing about. easyJet or the railway wins by not having to pay someone to sell it to me.

My bank, as you might guess, is a primarily online one. Most of the time I deal with them online. Today I had to do something out of the ordinary (a fairly large transfer to purchase a car) and so I phoned them up. Because people weren't phoning up to check their balance or create a standing order, the phone was answered quickly and the process completed quickly and efficiently. As for queueing in a branch - whyever would I want to do that? I can deposit cheques (antiquated though the things are) by posting them off. I can deposit cash at a post office, but I can't remember as an adult the last time I had to do that.

If we want to keep jobs, they could do other, more useful, things.

I don't often use a booking office but i still do if i need tickets that cant be sold by a machine or the journey is complex. An example: tonight I need to buy a railcard that i need to use on Friday night. At present i need a human for that.

So why can't I buy one online and print a 7 day temporary card out at home with the final one being posted? That would work too.

That's why i will always focus on that aspect and challenge those who don't or seek to dismiss concerns of individuals in a callous manner.

It depends. I do agree it is sad when people lose their jobs - but that should not stand in the way of genuine improvement to service.

To avoid this thread being deleted...the method of working being debated on another thread is not in itself an improvement. However online ticketing, mobile ticketing etc demonstrably are - I would prefer to use these methods to buy tickets and I am not alone.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Not yet, but while there will always be people who prefer to speak to a real person when buying their tickets, they should not be effectively subsidised by other passengers who are quite happy to get a ticket from a (much cheaper) machine - there shouldn't really be a need for more than one or two staff selling tickets at a time at medium sized stations.

I agree, and think the Dutch method of a small fee for making transactions at a manned ticket window that could be made at a TVM, with staff assistance if necessary, is a reasonable approach to keep those few windows open for exceptional transactions. Even 50p or £1 would work - small amounts still have psychological power.
 
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LowLevel

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Jobs in businesses exist to perform a function, not for the sake of having jobs.

Enabling business to add value using work is a better way to create them than keeping them for keeping them's sake. The IT industry itself is a clear demonstrator of this.

This is where we need a step change in thinking before it's too late. Employment is an essential part of the well being of the human condition. Lack of employment leads to loss of purpose, depression and in extremis, death. Provision of decent jobs needs to be seen as a goal in and of itself rather than a byproduct of making money for a business. Take a trip to places like the Notts Coalfield, which I'm only too familiar with, or the South Wales Valleys to see what happens when the jobs go.

You can't take money with you when you die.
 

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Can I please point out that rampant unemployment and crucially underemployment has almost nothing to do with technology and almost everything to do with a Government that doesn't see this as a problem...
 

absolutelymilk

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Can I please point out that rampant unemployment and crucially underemployment has almost nothing to do with technology and almost everything to do with a Government that doesn't see this as a problem...

Possibly because unemployment is not rampant, but in fact well under the average for the past three decades.

http://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/latest
(scroll down to unemployment)

There isn't much data on underemployment, so I would be interested to see a historical analysis.

Jobs in businesses exist to perform a function, not for the sake of having jobs.

Enabling business to add value using work is a better way to create them than keeping them for keeping them's sake. The IT industry itself is a clear demonstrator of this.

Exactly. If the rail industry can save money in station staff whose jobs can be done by machines, then it will have more money to invest in increasing services and investing in new trains.
 
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