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Author Topic: The rail replacement bus that did not operate  (Read 961 times)
Worcester_Passenger
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« on: June 24, 2019, 02:23:19 pm »

On Sunday June 23, I travelled on the 09:32 train from Worcester Foregate Street to Hanborough, there to change onto a rail replacement bus service to Oxford.

On arrival at Hanborough at 10:45, some 30+ passengers waited for a bus that did not turn up. Various people rang the GWR "customer service" helpline, who said that they had no way of contacting either the operator of the bus, or the driver of the bus.  We were eventually told to await the arrival of the next train, at 12:35. I posted a message here about what was happening.

I tweeted @GWRhelp several times, but received no response unitil 15:41.

Several passengers rang local taxi companies. I travelled with several others in one of the taxis.

I've just tried to claim a refund under 'delay repay'.

My claim has been refused on the grounds that the services all operated, and that the rail replacement bus service arrived at Oxford station on time at 11:25.

How can I prove to GWR that the bus did not operate?
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DavidT
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2019, 10:02:06 pm »


That's hugely frustrating. All I can think of is involving the rail Ombudsman.
https://www.railombudsman.org/
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2019, 10:18:56 am »

It would be a little premature to involve an Ombudsman because, as a general rule, they will only become involved once an organisationís internal complaints procedure has been exhausted.

The problem, as I see it, is that you are faced with trying to prove a negative (ie. the bus didnít run) which is never easy at the best of times. If I were in your position I would make a formal complaint to GWR eventually if necessary, but in the short term contact them again with more information and asking for further details:

The bus was booked to leave Oxford at 1015, arriving at Hanborough at 1040. It was then booked to leave again at 1055 and arrive back in Oxford at 1125. My first question to GWR would be whether the statement made to you (ie the bus arrived at Oxford at 1125) was actually checked with the bus operator, or has the person who responded to your claim simply looked at the booked time, found no delay or cancellation recorded, and responded on the basis of that.

The second point I would bring to their attention was that the bus provided a dual purpose; firstly to drop off passengers from Oxford who were going forward on the 1059 to Malvern, and secondly to pick up passengers from your train for onward transit to Oxford. I would imagine that Hanborough itself is not going to generate much traffic for a north-west bound train at that time on a Sunday, so were there sufficient numbers of passengers on the platform when your train arrived to suggest that they had got off a bus from Oxford? If not  that would query whether the bus ran at all; if so it would suggest that the bus did indeed run but may have left early, either through the driver misreading the timetable or being given incorrect instructions. GWR could (or should) be able to find out from the bus contractor the details of what actually happened, rather than what was booked/ supposed to happen.

The third point I would make to GWR would be that passengers then organised taxis for themselves. I would imagine that at least one of them would be looking to send the bill to GWR for the taxi costs, and quite possibly more than one of them may have done so. Given that it would be pushing credibility to the limit to suggest that passengers organised taxis for themselves rather than get on the bus that was waiting for them, perhaps GWR could let you know whether they have heard from other passengers who were affected?

I suspect you might be better off contacting the Station Manager at Oxford about this at this stage rather than GWRís Delay Repay team, because it is a matter that might need more thought and further investigation than the Delay Repay team is likely to either be prepared to do, or indeed know how to do.

Best of luck!!
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Worcester_Passenger
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2019, 11:26:51 am »

Thanks for that.
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Fourbee
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2019, 12:11:54 pm »

My claim has been refused on the grounds that the services all operated, and that the rail replacement bus service arrived at Oxford station on time at 11:25.

11:25 looks like the time the last scheduled bus arrived in Hanborough (left Oxford at 10:55).

The engineering work leaflet is still there when I checked:
https://www.gwr.com/~/media/gwr/pdfs/planned-engineering/2019/week-13-saturday-22-to-friday-28-june-2019-v3.pdf?la=en
The line was due to re-open around 11:15.

I think if you pursue this you will get satisfaction eventually.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 12:25:29 pm by Fourbee » Logged
Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2019, 12:32:00 pm »

Quote from: Fourbee
11:25 looks like the time the last scheduled bus arrived in Hanborough (left Oxford at 10:55).


That's not what RTT says:

http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/search/advanced/HND/2019/06/23/0000-2359?stp=WVS&show=all&order=wtt
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Reading General
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2019, 12:52:26 pm »

Who was contracted to run the replacement bus and which one of their vehicles was it? Depending on the operator and if it's a modern bus, it will have two weeks worth of cctv stored to prove whether it went to Hanborough or not. It could be likely that it dropped off the passengers to meet the Malvern train and headed off towards Oxford again or possibly, if there was nobody to go to Hanborough to meet the Malvern train, never departed Oxford at all.
I must admit that the times in the past I have done a rail replacement the communication between the TOC and bus operator has been minimal. Drivers are often just given a sheet of points to follow with no note of what trains they are supposed to be replacing. The bus operator isn't bothered if people travel at all, they get paid either way, so the situation has occurred where the bus departs on time before a delayed train has arrived. This doesn't look like that situation here.
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Richard Fairhurst
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2019, 01:05:46 pm »

Out of interest, were you waiting on the road (the A4095) or the station forecourt? I've been on RRBs in the past where the bus has only called at the bus-stop on the A4095, and not gone down the drive to the forecourt.
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Worcester_Passenger
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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2019, 03:41:40 pm »

Neither. We were told by the Train Manager to wait on the "Upper Car Park" - and he pointed us in that direction.

There were none of the usual helpers in evidence.

Next time I'm collecting names and addresses!
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stuving
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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2019, 04:11:46 pm »

The "onward travel information" sheet available from NR's station page says the rail replacement bus stop is the bus stop on the main road. That's dated last December, so later than the main car park (though their information page itself still hasn't noticed that).
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Worcester_Passenger
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« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2019, 09:48:04 am »

I submitted the original 'delay repay' request on Monday about 11:00. I got a 'received' email back sent at 12:00, and a 'your application is unsuccessful' email that was sent at 13:00.

There's an 'appeal' button in the 'unsuccessful' response. I clicked on this, and said that I disputed their records about the operation of the bus service. I suggested that they have a look at the call logs to their 'customer services' line on Sunday between 11:00 and 12:00. I got a 'received' email back at 1430.

Last night (Tuesday) at 20:32 there's an email saying 'approved'. Very non-committal - nothing about what went wrong or why, and no apology for (incorrectly) turning down my first application.

But it's sorted now. Thanks to all who made suggestions!
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2019, 10:37:15 am »

Good to see such a swift resolution, even though you had to appeal the original decision.
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To view my cab run over the new Reading Viaduct as well as a relief line cab ride at Reading just after Platforms 12-15 opened and my 'before and after' video comparison of the Cotswold Line Redoubling scheme, see: http://www.dailymotion.com/user/IndustryInsider/1
Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2019, 10:39:46 am »

From the information that has been gradually coming to light on this thread, it is beginning to look like there may have been a simple cock-up here.

I've never used Hanborough station, and it must be 20 years since I drove past it, but Google Street View suggests that the bus stops are far enough away from the station approach road that they cannot be seen from the station.

The bus driver is employed by the contractor, and may never have been given a job such as this before. He/she might not have driven a bus to Hanborough before or, if he had, he has been told to stop at the service bus stop on the main road.

If there is information out there (out of date or otherwise) that the replacement bus stop is actually the ordinary service bus stop on the main road, and that is what he has been told by his employer, that is where the bus is going to stop. He won't be able to see the passengers that are waiting for him in the station car park.

The intending passengers in the car park, similarly, cannot see the bus.

I can now see the situation unfolding whereby you have a car park full of increasingly disgruntled passengers waiting for the bus, and a bus driver sitting alone behind his wheel at the bus stop until 1055, when he thinks "Oh well, nobody has turned up. Better push off back to Oxford then."

If this, or anything like it, is the case, it is going to put a spanner in the works of a straightforward compensation claim. It would come down either to the passengers being given inaccurate information by the train manager, or inaccurate information being given to the bus driver regarding where to stop at Hanborough station.

Final note

I see that as I was typing all that (very slowly as it happened because I was involved in other things as well) the OP has advised us that his claim was successful! However, I shall post what I had already written anyway because it may well answer the question of why GWR was non-committal as to a reason for what happened,

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Richard Fairhurst
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« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2019, 11:33:52 am »

Neither. We were told by the Train Manager to wait on the "Upper Car Park" - and he pointed us in that direction.

Wow. That surprises me. I have never known a RRB go into the upper car park and I'm not aware that there's any designated bus waiting area there. I would be surprised if the TM had just invented that, so it sounds like a communication failure - sadly fairly common with Cotswold Line RRBs in my experience.
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2019, 01:13:18 pm »

To be fair, when the large blockades are on, they usually use the upper car park, which is suitably cordoned off and has staff in attendance.  When itís just one or two per day then itís not sensible or necessary to block off part of the car park so it sounds like the bus would stop on the road that passes by the station.

Operationally sensible, and you could see why a TM might give that advice erroneously.  A recipe for confusion though, especially if no staff are provided at the station to direct passengers, who could be waiting in one of three possible locations where none of the other two locations is clearly visible!
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To view my cab run over the new Reading Viaduct as well as a relief line cab ride at Reading just after Platforms 12-15 opened and my 'before and after' video comparison of the Cotswold Line Redoubling scheme, see: http://www.dailymotion.com/user/IndustryInsider/1
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