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Author Topic: Cancellations, sending passengers the long way round, then charging them more!  (Read 1741 times)
grahame
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« on: December 22, 2020, 05:06:37 am »

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07:37 Westbury to Swindon due 08:20
07:37 Westbury to Swindon due 08:20 will be cancelled.
This is due to a shortage of train crew.
Further Information

If you hold a valid single, return, or weekly ticket, you will be able to claim compensation for delays of 15 minutes or more. Please keep your ticket and visit GWR.com/DelayRepay

Well - this is disappointing.  My understanding after the October disruption was that GWR would let people travel from (example) Trowbridge to Swindon via Bath Spa on the next train at "via Melksham" fares if they cancel the direct train at around that time.

The 07:43 Trowbridge to Swindon, due into Swindon at 08:20 is cancelled this morning. The next train is at 08:06, connecting into Swindon at 09:09 - that's 51 minutes late on a commuter journey that should take just 37 minutes.   OK - these things happen.   But why - if the journey planner has been updated to change the trains, has the fare not been changed so I can't buy the promised normal fare for that journey at that time.  The via Melksham ticket is 9.30 and the via Bath Spa is 16.00 - so that's 6.70 more for the pleasure of a longer journey the passengers really don't want.

Come on - GWR - if you can update the online system to reflect the changes in times, you should be able to change it to reflect the changes in fares at the same time.   Only a small proportion of people will know to wait to buy at the station at the lower fare - the rest are being ripped off as well as inconvenienced. I can forgive the inconvenience at the moment. It is hard to forgive the blatant failure to meet your promise of offering travel at the lower fare if you cancel the direct train via your same computer system.

It gets worse the other way ... if need to arrive in Salisbury for 10:15, my normal day return ticket leaves Chippenham at 09:00 and costs 14.30.  Today, I am being offered the 08:10 to get there in good time - at 31.20, or the 09:10 getting in at 10:32 - at 19.50.   Come on, GWR - play fair - if you cancel a train in sufficient time to change the online ticket selling system, don't then charge people more than you would if the train was running.  It's adding insult to injury!





Edit just to correct spelling mistakes.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2020, 10:45:36 am by grahame » Logged

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bobm
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2020, 07:09:43 am »

Both trains in question now reinstated.
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2020, 10:49:37 am »

Both trains in question now reinstated.

Yes, good - thanks for updating the thread.  I was up most of the night then slept through the peak ... so not sure when it was re-instated.  I have raised this as a systemic issue and have a personal acknowledgement and expect further feedback though not 'urgent/real time'.  Still an opportunity to identify and fix/explain/mitigate something.
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bobm
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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2020, 11:53:53 am »

I got the message about them being re-instated at 07:03.
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plymothian
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2021, 03:15:15 pm »

I see Graham must have scored a bit of a victory, as via Melksham tickets are now explicitly accepted via Bath during the current situation.
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2021, 08:48:17 am »

I see Graham must have scored a bit of a victory, as via Melksham tickets are now explicitly accepted via Bath during the current situation.

Delighted in principle as far as it goes.  When train times / routes are changed on an emergency, engineering, or short term basis, the fare system lags behind and can sometimes end up putting up the price. In my view it's morally unfair to charge the customer more for what would be their normal journey because of the rail industry's decision or need to modify the normal journey - often lengthening it. One example was West of England trains arriving into their West Country destinations at exactly their normal time but leaving London 8 minutes earlier, so bringing them from super-off-peak to off-peak fares. Another has been the sending of Trowbridge to Swindon passengers via a change at Bath Spa, or even on the usual train with a reversal at Bathampton Junction.

But why do I say "in principle" and "as far as it goes"?   Because from observation GWR's own fare / ticket sale system - the thing we are encouraged to use in preference to touch systems at the station - just sells tickets at the higher price once the cancellation is in the system and information is that "It is unlikely online systems will be changed in the near future".  No confirmation of that - something to keep an eye on, and a hope that I have a long time to wait for a chance to check it, as we much prefer to have the train service running as per the published timetable, give or take a few minutes.

In practice, I have used [via] Melksham tickets via Bath Spa on a few occasions when the normal train has not been running, asking ahead of time to be cleared to do so, and never been required to pay extra, nor been refused.  But then I know the fare system, speak good English and have don't have characteristics (I don't think) that would give the impression that I might try it on.

If the 07:43 is cancelled (for example) and removed from the journey planner, I would like to see the GBP9.30 fare offered on it accepted on the 07:25 or 08:06 via Bath Spa on the online systems and not just have tickets bought at the station waved through.  The job is just half done - principle established.  I have been told it might not be easy to change the fare online in these cases - understood, but the system has clearly been written to let the times change, so what not the fares - job half done?
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PhilWakely
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2021, 12:39:25 pm »

Away from the Trans-Wilts, one example that makes my blood boil relates to a pair of London-bound services from Newton Abbot in the 'normal' timetable.  At 07:27, trains from Paignton and Penzance, both bound for Paddington arrive at the station - so both are 'at platform' at the same time.

The Penzance to Paddington departs at 07:28 and is billed as 'non-stop Taunton to Reading', arriving into Paddington at 10:02. This is 'Anytime tickets Only'.
The Paignton to Paddington departs at 07:33 and stops everywhere, arriving into Paddington at 10:32. Off-Peak tickets are valid on this service.

Under the emergency timetable, the Paignton to Paddington has been cancelled and the Penzance to Paddington stops everywhere. However, it is still 'Anytime tickets Only'.
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grahame
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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2021, 02:40:29 pm »

Away from the Trans-Wilts, one example that makes my blood boil ...

[snip]

Under the emergency timetable, the Paignton to Paddington has been cancelled and the Penzance to Paddington stops everywhere. However, it is still 'Anytime tickets Only'.

Here's the background data to that ... taking the example of a single ticket to Paddington on a Monday to Friday morning:

Off Peak Single - Newton Abbot to Paddington, any permitted route, Restriction code LD GBP-80.30
Anytime Day Single - Newton Abbot to Paddington, any permitted route, Restriction code SDS GBP-137.30

Restriction code LD:
Not valid for travel on trains timed to depart after 04:29 and before the times shown from the following stations:
07:30 from Newton Abbot; also valid on 07:06, 07:17 and 08:03 CrossCountry services, changing at Bristol Temple Meads or Parkway;
Various concessions offered for past dates when engineering works changed schedules

Retriction code SDS:
No restrictions

Train services Newton Abbott to London Paddington ... until this weekend:
06:15 - 1A72 - ex Plymouth - due London Paddington 09:19 - "SSuX - 14/12/2020 to 14/05/2021"
06:25 - 1A71 - ex Plymouth - due London Paddington 08:59 - "SSuX - 14/12/2020 to 14/05/2021"
07:28 - 1A73 - ex Penzance - due London Paddington 09:59 - "SSuX - 14/12/2020 to 14/05/2021"
07:33 - 1A74 - ex Paignton - due London Paddington 10:29 - "SSuX - 14/12/2020 to 14/05/2021"
08:50 - 1A76 - ex Penzance - due London Paddington 11:27 - "SSuX - 14/12/2020 to 14/05/2021"
... next week
06:15 - 1A72 - ex Plymouth - due London Paddington 09:19 - "SSuX - 14/12/2020 to 14/05/2021"
07:28 - 1A73 - ex Penzance - due London Paddington 10:29 - "VAR"
08:50 - 1A76 - ex Penzance - due London Paddington 11:27 - "SSuX - 14/12/2020 to 14/05/2021"

I would NOT argue against the service slowing and reductions.
I would grouch at the price rise of GBP-57.30 for a London arrival at 10:29.

Probably NOT the time to point out that GroupSave would have been valid into London at 10:29 until this weekend but no longer valid as it's an off peak only discount.  Or perhaps the tickets should now be called "BubbleSave" tickets ....
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2021, 01:28:42 pm »

I?ve come to this party a bit late because I?ve been thinking about it and, as the thread has split into two separate examples I will look at both

On the Melksham issue I have been struggling to think of any other examples where two relatively main lines with a major junction at one angle of the triangle also have a secondary line with a less frequent service joining the other two angles. Perhaps somebody else can think of one?

The issue, as I understand it, is with the journey planner only, although presumably it would also affect other online booking engines. Logically, these systems must work by referring to the restriction codes which are built into the system for all trains. So if you tell the system that you want to go from X to Y at a given time the system would identify the route(s), identify the train(s), and then apply the restriction codes that apply to those trains and give you a price.

It would be a relatively easy matter to knock a train out of the system due to cancellations, but it would be a very different matter altogether to build a temporary easement into the system. I certainly wouldn?t like the job of writing such a programme, so I can easily understand why GWR are not committing themselves to resolving this!

GWR and no doubt other TOCs are usually good at allowing temporary easements although I did once have an experience of them failing to tell their staff about it. This was when Box Tunnel was closed for electrification work and there were notices at Chippenham to say that Bristol and beyond tickets would be valid via Swindon for the duration. An issue arose on the way back when a TM told me I was on the wrong train half way up Filton bank, but that was easily resolved!

They also appear to be good at refunding the fare difference when one has to pay a higher price. My example was a through ticket from any GWR station to the WSR when the Taunton to Bishops Lydeard shuttle was running. Staff couldn?t find the ticket on the system at Chippenham so I had to buy separate tickets for the three legs (CPM-TAU, the shuttle and the WSR). After I sent in my claim I get a refund of the difference within a week. Anyone who was overcharged for a via Bath ticket when trains via Melksham were not running should get a similar refund, but that would of course rely on those people knowing they had been overcharged.

On the Newton Abbott issue, I wonder whether there is a local easement to deal with the problem resulting from a train cancellation in the new timetable due to these exceptional circumstances. If there is then there is not an issue; if there isn?t then perhaps GWR should be approached locally about it to see what they have to say.



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smokey
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2021, 05:58:49 pm »

I?ve come to this party a bit late because I?ve been thinking about it and, as the thread has split into two separate examples I will look at both

On the Melksham issue I have been struggling to think of any other examples where two relatively main lines with a major junction at one angle of the triangle also have a secondary line with a less frequent service joining the other two angles. Perhaps somebody else can think of one?

The issue, as I understand it, is with the journey planner only, although presumably it would also affect other online booking engines. Logically, these systems must work by referring to the restriction codes which are built into the system for all trains. So if you tell the system that you want to go from X to Y at a given time the system would identify the route(s), identify the train(s), and then apply the restriction codes that apply to those trains and give you a price.

It would be a relatively easy matter to knock a train out of the system due to cancellations, but it would be a very different matter altogether to build a temporary easement into the system. I certainly wouldn?t like the job of writing such a programme, so I can easily understand why GWR are not committing themselves to resolving this!

GWR and no doubt other TOCs are usually good at allowing temporary easements although I did once have an experience of them failing to tell their staff about it. This was when Box Tunnel was closed for electrification work and there were notices at Chippenham to say that Bristol and beyond tickets would be valid via Swindon for the duration. An issue arose on the way back when a TM told me I was on the wrong train half way up Filton bank, but that was easily resolved!

They also appear to be good at refunding the fare difference when one has to pay a higher price. My example was a through ticket from any GWR station to the WSR when the Taunton to Bishops Lydeard shuttle was running. Staff couldn?t find the ticket on the system at Chippenham so I had to buy separate tickets for the three legs (CPM-TAU, the shuttle and the WSR). After I sent in my claim I get a refund of the difference within a week. Anyone who was overcharged for a via Bath ticket when trains via Melksham were not running should get a similar refund, but that would of course rely on those people knowing they had been overcharged.

Re Melksham to Swindon via Bath spa,
other examples Melton Mowbray to Loughborough via Leicester.
Northallerton to Middlesborough via Darlington.
Troon to Auchinleck via Glasgow.



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grahame
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2021, 06:49:25 pm »

It would be a relatively easy matter to knock a train out of the system due to cancellations, but it would be a very different matter altogether to build a temporary easement into the system.

OK, I'll take your word for it, but SDS already has several date-related easements in the text, and a tables of dates and "unpublished data" too.

Quote
I certainly wouldn?t like the job of writing such a programme, so I can easily understand why GWR are not committing themselves to resolving this!

I wouldn't like to write code either - however, I think it's just data at least in the Newton Abbott case.

Quote
They also appear to be good at refunding the fare difference when one has to pay a higher price.

Totally agreed - and full credit to them on that count. But one has to realise one's paid the higher price in order to claim and have the time and energy to do so.  I suspect you are far better informed than most, and also of the character and with the time that lets you follow these things through.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2021, 08:10:05 pm »

It would be a relatively easy matter to knock a train out of the system due to cancellations, but it would be a very different matter altogether to build a temporary easement into the system.

OK, I'll take your word for it, but SDS already has several date-related easements in the text, and a tables of dates and "unpublished data" too.

Never take my word for it Graham! If you can, prove I?m wrong and shoot me down in flames if I am. It all adds to the debate  Grin

I think there is a major difference between a dated restriction ie. Something you can write into the timetable such as summer Saturdays only or an easement only applies to one particular train. This not via Bath restriction is a valid one when the ?via Melksham? service is running, and would only not be valid when it isn?t.

And that lack of validity when the service isn?t running is always variable; it could be as little as a single cancellation of one train up to a service withdrawal for a couple of weeks or more through an engineering occupation, freeing path for express services or such like.

 In Excel you could do it with an IF command, but even them only if you deleted the appropriate line from your spreadsheet and put it back in again after the incident is over. I suppose the issue really boils down to the frequency that the problem arises.

Another potential issue, of course, is that there may be a raft of other restriction codes that might need amending too eg is there a price difference on Oxford to Trowbridge or Stroud to Trowbridge or Reading to Trowbridge fares? At the very least these things would need to be checked and the more I think about it the clearer it becomes that no one would want to touch it with a barge pole!


Quote
I certainly wouldn?t like the job of writing such a programme, so I can easily understand why GWR are not committing themselves to resolving this!

I wouldn't like to write code either - however, I think it's just data at least in the Newton Abbott case.

You may well be right and that might make a change to the restriction itself more sensible. Hwever, even then other implications would have to be considered.

Quote
They also appear to be good at refunding the fare difference when one has to pay a higher price.

Totally agreed - and full credit to them on that count. But one has to realise one's paid the higher price in order to claim and have the time and energy to do so.  I suspect you are far better informed than most, and also of the character and with the time that lets you follow these things through.

I did mention that in my original post. As regatds the second sentence, you wouldn't be thinking of Heathrow Express would you? Wink
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