Wouldn't it be easier for customers if NatRail Counters was formed?

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alcockell

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Hi folks,

Thinking how the Post Office works, now that it's been split into several different functional bodies - but there is still a Post Office entity that customer contracts are with...

Wouldn't it be easier if the rail industry did the same? Cos then it wouldn't matter how the revenue was shared - cos there's be a thin "British Rail" layer that the customer's contract was with. Almost like TFL in a way...

That way - individual TOCs wouldn't enter the picture when it came to whether a passenger was on the right company's trains or whatever... cos we casual travellers *don't care* - we want to get from A to B..
 
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cuccir

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Wouldn't it be easier if the rail industry did the same? Cos then it wouldn't matter how the revenue was shared - cos there's be a thin "British Rail" layer that the customer's contract was with. Almost like TFL in a way...

In principle, revenue share shouldn't matter to passengers at the moment anyway.

That way - individual TOCs wouldn't enter the picture when it came to whether a passenger was on the right company's trains or whatever... cos we casual travellers *don't care* - we want to get from A to B..

Here you're not talking about a National Rail customer facing organisation. What you're actually proposing here is to do away with TOC only tickets. That's something quite different.

At the moment I could buy an off-peak return from Newcastle to York on the First Great Western website, and it wouldn't matter if I used Northern, East Coast, TransPennine or Grand Central trains, so long as I was on a valid route at a valid time. Despite the multiple TOCs invovled, it doesn't matter whose website I use or which trains I use. The only issue is where I chose to buy a 'TOC only' ticket, which may come with a cheaper price - at which point many casual travellers do very much care who they use, as they can save money.

Would there be some benefit to removing sales from TOC websites and having them all done through a single organisation? I actually think that the ability to purchase from multiple websites has been a rare example of competition driving innovation and customer benefits - a single system would have fewer discounts/offers, and you'd be stuck with one interface and interpretation of the routeing guide.

That said (and what I was expecting when I saw the thread title) a generic 'National Rail' counter, with info on all services, at all major interchange stations might be beneficial to passengers.
 

alcockell

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In principle, revenue share shouldn't matter to passengers at the moment anyway.



Here you're not talking about a National Rail customer facing organisation. What you're actually proposing here is to do away with TOC only tickets. That's something quite different.

At the moment I could buy an off-peak return from Newcastle to York on the First Great Western website, and it wouldn't matter if I used Northern, East Coast, TransPennine or Grand Central trains, so long as I was on a valid route at a valid time. Despite the multiple TOCs invovled, it doesn't matter whose website I use or which trains I use. The only issue is where I chose to buy a 'TOC only' ticket, which may come with a cheaper price - at which point many casual travellers do very much care who they use, as they can save money.

Would there be some benefit to removing sales from TOC websites and having them all done through a single organisation? I actually think that the ability to purchase from multiple websites has been a rare example of competition driving innovation and customer benefits - a single system would have fewer discounts/offers, and you'd be stuck with one interface and interpretation of the routeing guide.

That said (and what I was expecting when I saw the thread title) a generic 'National Rail' counter, with info on all services, at all major interchange stations might be beneficial to passengers.
That was kind of what i meant. The innovation and customer benefits still come about - with different discounts etc... but as far as the basic servicing side goes, have the physical ticket office points of sale themselves run as a rail equivalent of "post Office Counters Ltd".

Effectively layer a TFL-esque entity over the top

I was thinking of the current situation where even though I go to a ticket office or machine and buy what i think is a valid ticket - but I find it isn't due to a weird set of rules I'm not privy to - or my contract is with an entitiy i don't know or care about...

if i buy a Travelcard within London and I hop on a number 8 bus... my contract is with TFL. Arriva may be running the bus service today - Stagecoach might be running the route at some point... but do I care? I just want to hop on an 8 from, say Victoria to Euston Square.

If you have two different train companies running services on the same line to the same destination - WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE which one i get on if I've bought a walkup ticket? Especially if they're coming through on the same platform. If you had both Virgin and FGW running trains between Plymouth and Exeter St David's, and the FGW was delayed... and a Virgin one pulled up at the time I expected... I'd hop on.

By all means - offer other retail bonuses, sales etc.. but have them feed into a BR-esque shim to offer some semblance of integrated service... give the passengers a break...
 

alcockell

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But all you will do is get rid of the cheapest tickets (which are only valid using one TOC) is that what you want?

Peter
But aren't they the ones which catch the passenger out most frequently? Headline fare advertised but with a shedload of restrictions that aren't all that clear to the end-user?

Historically with AIRLINES - the customer would go to a travel agent and they'd sort everything... with rail, we poor SLF are left in confusion...
 

Mr Spock

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What that means is all income will go to a single body (DfT) and the "Toc's" will just be paid to run a service.
 

alcockell

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What that means is all income will go to a single body (DfT) and the "Toc's" will just be paid to run a service.
And isn't that what happens with TFL? And what happens with Freedom-type tickets in some areas with buses? Until they have a spat as happened with Reading Buses and another company recently?

And more often with IATA airlines - where different companies are codesharing?

All I can argue from is the customer perspective...
 

cuccir

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But its swings and roundabouts. You get a simpler system by abandoning the cheaper fares. Which is better for the customer?

The problem with TOC-only tickets is that they cannot be excessed, not their existence in the first place.

But aren't they the ones which catch the passenger out most frequently? Headline fare advertised but with a shedload of restrictions that aren't all that clear to the end-user?

Again, the problem is the advertising and the making clear of restrictions, not the existence of the tickets themselves.
 

alcockell

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BUt why couldn't the TOC-specific fares be excessed? Or at least only pro-rata the amended portion? Especially if a passenger is en-route and on their 3rd or 4th change?

How is a casual customer to know? And WHY should they know... especially if there are massive delays due to something out of their control - while they're in transit?
 

185

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Hi folks,

Thinking how the Post Office works, now that it's been split into several different functional bodies - but there is still a Post Office entity that customer contracts are with...

Wouldn't it be easier if the rail industry did the same? Cos then it wouldn't matter how the revenue was shared - cos there's be a thin "British Rail" layer that the customer's contract was with. Almost like TFL in a way...

That way - individual TOCs wouldn't enter the picture when it came to whether a passenger was on the right company's trains or whatever... cos we casual travellers *don't care* - we want to get from A to B..

It would.

But if my facebook friends information is right, today, G4S inside the booking office window at Salford Crescent is a disaster waiting to happen.

Northern Rail = Total Fail.
 

SS4

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But aren't they the ones which catch the passenger out most frequently? Headline fare advertised but with a shedload of restrictions that aren't all that clear to the end-user?

Historically with AIRLINES - the customer would go to a travel agent and they'd sort everything... with rail, we poor SLF are left in confusion...

Counter-argument: Why should your average traveller have to pay more because of some thick idiots* who don't know or actively seek to evade paying the correct fare?

They are the ticket type that catch most people out which is what you'd expect from the most heavily restricted tickets (although IMO they're clearer than [super] off peak on some routes!)
The important distinction is that the proportion of passengers who get caught to those who don't is very low - that is almost everyone who uses them does so properly.

Yet it's always those with grievances that get the biggest soapbox to shout from and are inclined to shout the loudest as though if they shout loudly enough they'll be let off (unfortunately they appear to be right, setting a precedent and completely undermining staff but that's for another thread)


* Since most journeys on advances pass off without a hitch it seems fair to make that statement with an exception for those who cannot understand due to disability and/or illiteracy.

EDIT:
I'd like to see the TfL model applied nationwide, especially where it relates to buses; that is where the local authority (DfT for a larger area) set fares, frequencies and pay private operators to run the service.

I'm unsure where you're going with NatRail counters. Do you mean a physical presence in stations/elsewhere at a time when ticket office sales are in decline? Or being able to purchase tickets from NREs including TOC specific at the moment?
Lastly one must consider the impact on the economy where people stay at home because they can't afford a walk up/any permitted ticket.
 
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ainsworth74

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And WHY should they know... especially if there are massive delays due to something out of their control - while they're in transit?

If there are massive delays affecting more than just there train the likelihood is that restrictions like this will have been lifted to enable people to get to where they're going. Further even if the massive delay only affects their train the TOCs still have a duty to get the passenger to their destination.
 

cuccir

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BUt why couldn't the TOC-specific fares be excessed? Or at least only pro-rata the amended portion? Especially if a passenger is en-route and on their 3rd or 4th change?

How is a casual customer to know? And WHY should they know... especially if there are massive delays due to something out of their control - while they're in transit?

Oh that I agree with.
 

maniacmartin

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I too believe TOC-only tickets should be able to be excessed, and I support a TfL-style national train system, where you deal with one entity and they subcontract out.

I think the main problem with the current system is when things go wrong, it is sometimes not clear to the passenger who is liable when things go wrong, especially with multi-leg joruneys on different TOCs, who love to pass the buck between each other. If we cannot have a TfL-style operation, I believe that the company you bought the ticket from should be made always liable for any delays/Delay Repay etc (even incurred on a different TOC's trains) and they should then counterclaim from the relevant TOC, rather than making the passenger chase it down
 

Mr Spock

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I too believe TOC-only tickets should be able to be excessed, and I support a TfL-style national train system, where you deal with one entity and they subcontract out.

I think the main problem with the current system is when things go wrong, it is sometimes not clear to the passenger who is liable when things go wrong, especially with multi-leg joruneys on different TOCs, who love to pass the buck between each other. If we cannot have a TfL-style operation, I believe that the company you bought the ticket from should be made always liable for any delays/Delay Repay etc (even incurred on a different TOC's trains) and they should then counterclaim from the relevant TOC, rather than making the passenger chase it down

So if I buy a ticket from the East Coast web site to travel from Coventry to Manchester and the Cross Country train has a fault then I should claim from East Coast who will then claim from Cross Country?

This will only increase costs as first East Coast would have to check with Cross Country about what happened before dealing with it and then process a claim with them.

A ridiculous situation in my opinion.
 
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Wouldn't it be easier for customers if NatRail Counters was formed?

And wouldn't be easier for the travelling public if there were one web site and one web site only selling all tickets ? None of this trainline.com nonsense.
 
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alcockell

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So if I buy a ticket from the East Coast web site to travel from Coventry to Manchester and the Cross Country train has a fault then I should claim from East Coast who will then claim from Cross Country?

This will only increase costs as first East Coast would have to check with Cross Country about what happened before dealing with it and then process a claim with them.

A ridiculous situation in my opinion.
Funnily enough - that's precisely how the IATA airlines deal with it. If you're connecting flight screws up, the first airline has to sort it all out.
 

ainsworth74

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And wouldn't be easier for the travelling public if there were one web site and one web site only selling all tickets ? None of this trainline.com nonsense.

Apart from TOC specific special offers it's possible to buy all tickets from all websites.
 

Mr Spock

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Funnily enough - that's precisely how the IATA airlines deal with it. If you're connecting flight screws up, the first airline has to sort it all out.

Thats a bit different to a third party selling you a ticket and then being responsible for sorting out a refunds if things go wrong.

What if you bought your ticket from the Trainline or Red Spotted Hanky would they have to sort the refunds out?

From my experience the way refunds, etc. are sorted out on the railways works well (although there will occasionally be a problem).
 

maniacmartin

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From my experience the way refunds, etc. are sorted out on the railways works well (although there will occasionally be a problem).

I'm glad it works well for you. For me it's always been a pain in the neck. I don't think it would add to costs tremendously, as the ticket-issuing TOC could check for problems on other TOCs directly through an internal system (TRUST etc), and then batch-submit a big bundle of claims at the end of the month (assuming the TOCs trust each other not to fiddle their claims :lol:)

I'm sure trainline could afford the overhead given the amount they're making from "booking fees"
 
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Yew

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following the recent trend of DB running british Railways, maybe all tickets must be bought through Bahn.de? <D
 
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