West Midlands Trains duty of care: LNR passengers abandoned on platform

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allotments

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sequence of events:

18:33 LNWR train Crewe - Euston (EUS) delayed 82 minutes at Milton Keynes (MKC) due to fatality near Bletchley.

Departs MKC makes unscheduled stop Hemel Hempstead (HML) 21:56. Passengers requested to disembark at HML and join following train ~ announcement “3 trains expected within next 30 minutes”.

Train departs empty. Seems to return northbound.

50 passengers on HML platform ~ a cold dark windy place with no enclosed waiting room or catering facilities. No effective communication with stranded passengers.

Multiple delays and cancellations but many MKC - EUS services running but passing non-stop.

Scheduled 23:49 departure to EUS runs according to recenttraintimes but fails to stop at HML.

HML departure board prepares passengers for unscheduled stop of 23:13 LNWR train MKC -EUS (HML at 00:14) but train runs past without stopping.

Nearly hypothermic passengers at HML not picked up by following train until 00:35. 2 hours 39 minutes after being dumped on platform and abandoned by train which probably returned to depot.

No provision of help with onward transport from EUS. No train services southbound in small hours.

I was just one passenger eventually home in south London by 4am, 5 hours late, by bicycle and night bus.

My impression is that 50 passengers were left in the cold and dark with inadequate shelter no food or drink & poor communication for nearly 3 hours because LNWR gave moving trains and train crew for operational reasonal reasons priority over it's duty of care for passengers.

It would have been easy to transfer passengers earlier to alternative trains at MKC or to have one of many Avanti or LNWR southbound services make an unscheduled stop.

I would appreciate this forum's advice about how to raise this most effectively as a complaint and have these events properly investigated by the railway.
 

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30907

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You speak of "your impression" - were you actually present? (Edit - Apologies: you were)

Note that this incident was on Friday night, not yesterday.
 
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GB

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Was this 30th April? If so, all lines were handed back for normal working at 2124 so seems remarkably poor show to still have passengers sitting on the station over two hours later!
 

Hadders

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In the first instance raise a complaint with West Midlands Trains.
 

A0wen

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sequence of events:

18:33 LNWR train Crewe - Euston (EUS) delayed 82 minutes at Milton Keynes (MKC) due to fatality near Bletchley.

Departs MKC makes unscheduled stop Hemel Hempstead (HML) 21:56. Passengers requested to disembark at HML and join following train ~ announcement “3 trains expected within next 30 minutes”.

Train departs empty. Seems to return northbound.

50 passengers on HML platform ~ a cold dark windy place with no enclosed waiting room or catering facilities. No effective communication with stranded passengers.

Multiple delays and cancellations but many MKC - EUS services running but passing non-stop.

Scheduled 23:49 departure to EUS runs according to recenttraintimes but fails to stop at HML.

HML departure board prepares passengers for unscheduled stop of 23:13 LNWR train MKC -EUS (HML at 00:14) but train runs past without stopping.

Nearly hypothermic passengers at HML not picked up by following train until 00:35. 2 hours 39 minutes after being dumped on platform and abandoned by train which probably returned to depot.

No provision of help with onward transport from EUS. No train services southbound in small hours.

I was just one passenger eventually home in south London by 4am, 5 hours late, by bicycle and night bus.

My impression is that 50 passengers were left in the cold and dark with inadequate shelter no food or drink & poor communication for nearly 3 hours because LNWR gave moving trains and train crew for operational reasonal reasons priority over it's duty of care for passengers.

It would have been easy to transfer passengers earlier to alternative trains at MKC or to have one of many Avanti or LNWR southbound services make an unscheduled stop.

I would appreciate this forum's advice about how to raise this most effectively as a complaint and have these events properly investigated by the railway.

Depends what you're trying to get.

If it's a detailed reason as to why other trains weren't stopped etc, that's unlikely to be forthcoming as those are operational decisions which don't have to be made public.

If you're expecting an apology, you'll probably get that.

If you're looking for compensation, it would appear you'd get something under delay / repay and maybe a goodwill gesture on top. If you're expecting hundreds of pounds for "inconvenience" then you're going to be out of luck.

My question would be why people didn't just make their own arrangements after 30 mins or so. I would have.
 

Ediswan

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You speak of "your impression" - were you actually present?
The OP says "I was just one passenger eventually home in south London by 4am, 5 hours late, by bicycle and night bus.".

The "impression" was consdiering why the sequence of events happened, not what the events were.
 

tspaul26

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I would appreciate this forum's advice about how to raise this most effectively as a complaint and have these events properly investigated by the railway.
As stated above, a complaint to the operator should be the first port of call. If you are not satisfied with the usual milquetoast response then you may wish to contact DfT (and your local MP) as well given that DfT are overseeing (and funding) the show at the moment.

The thread title refers to “duty of care”. This I find is a rather misunderstood concept in the lay consciousness. The short answer is that a TOC is subject to a duty of care to its passengers and the standard of care expected will be that of a reasonably capable and competent TOC. Based on the facts presented, I think it is arguable that the TOC has discharged that duty.

Even if it has not, and the TOC is in breach of duty, you have no practical legal recourse unless you have suffered loss. I suppose the inconvenience and discomfort might form a basis to award general damages, but it’s unlikely and any amount is unlikely to be particularly generous.
 

allotments

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Yes Friday 30th April

I don't think passengers should be abandoned in this way. There needs to be proper communication, leadership and resolution from the railway.

If there's not going to be a train for such a long time I think the railway need to provide proactive advice, very clear communication and manage the situation including risks.

The impression is clear. The above didn't happen. Passengers were dumped and not cared for. There are always vulnerable passengers who won't cope in these circumstances. What happened was unacceptably badly managed and shockingly poor customer care.

What do I want? I want to ensure that this kind of thing doesn't happen to any passengers. I want LNWR to explain why this happened understand any errors and for the railway to make improvements so that passengers are cared for appropriately at all times.
 
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tspaul26

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If that is what you want, I would suggest that you contact DfT then. You should involve your local MP and Assembly Members to bother the relevant minister on the matter - ideally, make sure that at least one of the people you involve is a Conservative.
 

allotments

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I quite like the spacious LNWR trains EUS-CRE. Much easier than making reservations on Avanti services when travelling with a bicycle. Cost of travel much lower compared to Avanti using a split ticket at CRE. Customer service on LNWR train has always been fine and the extra 30 minutes the LNWR stopping train takes isn't significant.

It is a test of the service when things go wrong and this time I feel we were failed.

Yes Friday 30th April

I don't think passengers should be abandoned in this way. There needs to be proper communication, leadership and resolution from the railway.

If there's not going to be a train for such a long time I think the railway need to provide proactive advice, very clear communication and manage the situation including risks.

The impression is clear. The above didn't happen. Passengers were dumped and not cared for. There are always vulnerable passengers who won't cope in these circumstances. What happened was unacceptably badly managed and shockingly poor customer care.

What do I want? I want to ensure that this kind of thing doesn't happen to any passengers. I want LNER to explain why this happened understand any errors and for the railway to make improvements so that passengers are cared for appropriately at all times.
My typo LNWR not LNER.
 
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A0wen

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Yes Friday 30th April


What do I want? I want to ensure that this kind of thing doesn't happen to any passengers. I want LNER to explain why this happened understand any errors and for the railway to make improvements so that passengers are cared for appropriately at all times.

The level of explanation will be "recovering from an incident beyond our control" i.e. lines closed due to a fatality.

They are not going to tell you the details of who made what decision, communicated to whom etc etc. That's internal operational stuff and is, quite frankly, none of your business, however much you feel it is. The only people the TOC need to provide that level of response to would be the DfT or its representatives / agents e.g. RAIB.
 

Hadders

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Is there a Help Point at Hemel Hempstead? If so did you use it? Did you try to contact WMT by any other method to try and find out what was happening.

I think it's also worth pointing out that there was severe disruption due to a person being hit by a train, rather than an isolated incident of a single train being terminated short etc. I don't want to make excuses for the TOC but in my experience of being involved as a passenger in the aftermath of a such an incident nothing generally moves for around two hours.
 

Mcr Warrior

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Still a rather poor show to "dump" numerous passengers at Hemel Hempstead and then "skip stop" (as reported by the OP) subsequent services that might have called at Hemel Hempstead to uplift the stranded passengers, if this was in order to assist service recovery, all the time noting the unfortunate reason for the disruption.
 

A0wen

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The thread title refers to “duty of care”. This I find is a rather misunderstood concept in the lay consciousness. The short answer is that a TOC is subject to a duty of care to its passengers and the standard of care expected will be that of a reasonably capable and competent TOC. Based on the facts presented, I think it is arguable that the TOC has discharged that duty.
Not sure the understanding of "duty if care" is right here.

The TOC didn't "abandon" passengers in a remote area with no onward travel options - Hemel's a main station, there were facilities and taxis available for example. If they'd been dropped at somewhere like Berney Arms or Dovey Junction, that would be different.

The train provided was safe, the station was safe.

I don't believe a "duty of care" covers getting you to your final destination.

So whilst the customer service or information provided may have been poor, that's not the same as a breach of duty of care.
 

tspaul26

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They are not going to tell you the details of who made what decision, communicated to whom etc etc. That's internal operational stuff and is, quite frankly, none of your business, however much you feel it is. The only people the TOC need to provide that level of response to would be the DfT or its representatives / agents e.g. RAIB.
I suppose enquiries could be made of Network Rail as they will have been party to some of the goings-on to a greater or lesser extent.
 

tspaul26

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I don't believe a "duty of care" covers getting you to your final destination.

So whilst the customer service or information provided may have been poor, that's not the same as a breach of duty of care.

However the contract of the ticket does. But I agree, there doesn't look to be a duty of care issue here.

I am inclined to agree on both counts.

Who will direct you to the TOC.
If the information is requested of Network Rail then they must disclose it unless a relevant exemption applies - ‘speak to the TOC’ is not such an exemption.

I should clarify that I am not suggesting that a complaint be made to Network Rail: merely pointing out that it may hold information about who made what decisions and when.
 

allotments

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The level of explanation will be "recovering from an incident beyond our control" i.e. lines closed due to a fatality.

They are not going to tell you the details of who made what decision, communicated to whom etc etc. That's internal operational stuff and is, quite frankly, none of your business, however much you feel it is. The only people the TOC need to provide that level of response to would be the DfT or its representatives / agents e.g. RAIB

Is there a Help Point at Hemel Hempstead? If so did you use it? Did you try to contact WMT by any other method to try and find out what was happening.

I think it's also worth pointing out that there was severe disruption due to a person being hit by a train, rather than an isolated incident of a single train being terminated short etc. I don't want to make excuses for the TOC but in my experience of being involved as a passenger in the aftermath of a such an incident nothing generally moves for around two hours.
I didn't use the help point but would do in future. Some passengers probably did. As we were instructed to wait for 3 following trains we waited.

There was no instruction to make our own way in view of operational difficulties and reclaim costs. Perhaps there should have been.

We had an 82 minute delay already before arriving at HML due to the fatality and trains had begun moving again. There was an extra 2 hours 39 minutes at HML waiting for onward travel.

How long should passengers follow instructions before doing their own thing?
 

Mcr Warrior

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Multiple delays and cancellations but many MKC - EUS services running but passing non-stop.

Scheduled 23:49 departure to EUS runs according to recenttraintimes but fails to stop at HML.

HML departure board prepares passengers for unscheduled stop of 23:13 LNWR train MKC -EUS (HML at 00:14) but train runs past without stopping.

Nothing skip stopped.

To be fair, it's the impression conveyed by the OP in their original post.
 

A0wen

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I suppose enquiries could be made of Network Rail as they will have been party to some of the goings-on to a greater or lesser extent.

And their response will similarly be along the lines of 'there was a fatality at 'x' location, 'y' time, emergency services attended, lines reopened at 'z' time'.

Again they don't have to discuss operational decisions with the general public.
 

RailWonderer

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First and foremost, train control wants to recover the service, they don't care about passengers, nor are they paid to. It's the communication between control and the ToC staff at stations that must work to find a solution when these things happen. In this case, passengers normally call taxis after half an hour to an hour if the ToC hasn't done so (and they only need to do that when the last train has already been and gone).
 

tspaul26

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And their response will similarly be along the lines of 'there was a fatality at 'x' location, 'y' time, emergency services attended, lines reopened at 'z' time'.

Again they don't have to discuss operational decisions with the general public.
But they must, subject to any relevant exemptions, disclose information if it is requested, including in relation to operational decisions.
 

221129

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they don't care about passengers, nor are they paid to
Completely false. Although they do need weigh up between service recovery and customer service issues.

But they must, subject to any relevant exemptions, disclose information if it is requested, including in relation to operational decisions.
That's not strictly true. It has to be requested in a specific way for start.
 

tspaul26

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Completely false. Although they do need weigh up between service recovery and customer service issues.
Exactly right, because if the overall service is not recovered quickly then that will affect far more people.
 
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