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Author Topic: Plan to scrap printed timetables  (Read 836 times)
Timmer
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« on: October 24, 2021, 10:40:21 pm »


The Telegraph reporting of a plan to scrap printed timetables and posters with QR (QR Code - Quick Response code) codes:
https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/plot-to-replace-printed-timetables-with-qr-codes.223894/
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stuving
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2021, 11:37:58 pm »

Well, what the Telegraph article says is somewhat contradictory. A couple of paragraphs (from msn's hijacked copy):
Quote
Pocket and poster timetables are in the process of being withdrawn and replaced with QR (QR Code - Quick Response code) codes, sparking fears that elderly people without smartphones could be forced off the railways or left stranded at stations.
...
A White Paper, published alongside a Government review of the railways earlier this year, championed the need to “modernise” the network with staff on hand to help those who struggle with paperless tickets or looking up timetables online.

That first statement goes much further than even the headline does - unless the "process" extends backwards to the thinking about it stage.

The second quote refers to tickets, not timetables, so it's not even clear it's relevant.

And what white paper? It might be the Williams-Shapps Plan itself, which refers to itself as a white paper and to the review as something separate. But it isn't described as a white paper (e.g. on its title page), and I can't find anything specific about paperless timetables in it. There's not much about paperless tickets apart from a lot of generalisations about modernisation and this (still not about timetables):
Quote
To make payments easy, simple and flexible for passengers, the government will begin a retail revolution on the rail network. This includes new ways to pay through contactless Pay As You Go for commuters and in cities, as well as digital tickets for regional, long-distance and frequent journeys.

Customer service at stations and on trains will be modernised too, including through better integration with other transport services. Staff will be able to provide a more personal touch in future, which can be crucial for those who need additional support at stations and those who cannot or do not want to use contactless or mobile tickets.

So that's all right then - you won't need to use paperless tickets, you can use additional support instead.
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2021, 07:15:41 am »

In simple terms, if you don't have a smart phone we don't need your custom. Will this be followed by the demise of the Senior Railcard?
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2021, 11:08:40 am »

The article concentrates on 'elderly people without smartphones' but I'd have thought most elderly people (how old is that?) do have smartphones. In fact I wonder if elderly people even constitute the largest age group without smartphones. Also, define 'smartphone'. I'd have said it's a phone with the ability to connect to the internet, but there are a lot of phones with that ability which can't read QR (QR Code - Quick Response code) codes.
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stuving
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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2021, 12:56:02 pm »

As I recall it, SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais - French National Railways) stopped printing paper timetable leaflets to put in stations in 2017. There was some screaming and shouting, but not a huge amount, and SNCF just kept saying if you want one they are all available as PDFs for you to look at or even print yourself.

I've not been in enough gares enough since then to know how thorough that change was, though I think it was complete for SNCF's own service (TGVs (Train a Grande Vitesse)). For TERs in each region and Transilien, I imagine that each may have its own arrangements, with SNCF or doing their own thing.

Did they ever do timetable posters across the whole network? I don't think so, though I think there were ones for smaller local stations - especially when those didn't have any display screen.

And incidentally, this Friday (29th), SNCF are expected to lose their contract with a region (PACA) for the first time. Its only one route (Marseille-Toulon-Nice), not starting until 2025, the selected bidder is Transdev, and (predictably) it has already led a strike (14th October).
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Lee
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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2021, 04:19:59 pm »

As I recall it, SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais - French National Railways) stopped printing paper timetable leaflets to put in stations in 2017. There was some screaming and shouting, but not a huge amount, and SNCF just kept saying if you want one they are all available as PDFs for you to look at or even print yourself.

I've not been in enough gares enough since then to know how thorough that change was, though I think it was complete for SNCF's own service (TGVs (Train a Grande Vitesse)). For TERs in each region and Transilien, I imagine that each may have its own arrangements, with SNCF or doing their own thing.

Did they ever do timetable posters across the whole network? I don't think so, though I think there were ones for smaller local stations - especially when those didn't have any display screen.

And incidentally, this Friday (29th), SNCF are expected to lose their contract with a region (PACA) for the first time. Its only one route (Marseille-Toulon-Nice), not starting until 2025, the selected bidder is Transdev, and (predictably) it has already led a strike (14th October).

We have still have printed timetables for our local/regional services, and these leaflets include the times for the TGV services where applicable. However, since Covid these are no longer put out on racks for anyone to handle and then put back etc - we have signs at staffed stations saying that if you want a leaflet, you have to ask for it.

All of our stations in Brittany - even the smallest halts - have timetable posters.

Transdev Rail have effectively operated our Guingamp-Carhaix and Guingamp-Paimpol lines since 1886 as the successor company to what originated as the Société Générale des Chemin de Fer Economiques - who leased the Reseau Breton network of which these lines formed a part of - and then latterly the Société générale de chemins de fer et de transport automobile (CFTA). The lines moved to a contractual arrangement with the region in 2006, with the contract being won by them ahead of Keolis and VFLI, two subsidiaries of SNCF.

On these two lines, Transdev Rail are responsible for passenger transport, infrastructure management, freight, and building management. However, these lines form an integral part of the overall Brittany Breizhgo public transport network, and the services provided are specified through the Comité De Lignes system.

The rest of the Brittany local/regional rail network services are run under contract to the region by SNCF Mobilités, with the current agreement lasting through to 2030. Although the services run by Transdev Rail cost around three times less than those run by SNCF Mobilités, the thinking behind sticking mainly with the latter is the maintenance of an overall service to the whole of Brittany:

Quote from: Gérard Lahellec, vice-president of the Brittany region in charge of transport
We know that the competition which will apply to TGV is likely to weaken the service of certain territories, the most distant. We will be vigilant so that Brittany does not have to suffer from a reduced supply resulting from logics of purely financial operators. It is indeed the combined TGV and TER (local/regional train) service that makes the success of the Breton service.

This is one of the key reasons we are focussing on opportunities to enhance the local/regional train service levels, so that the potential gaps that Gérard Lahellec identifies can be effectively combatted going forward.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2021, 06:42:26 pm »

Quote
The article concentrates on 'elderly people without smartphones' but I'd have thought most elderly people (how old is that?) do have smartphones. In fact I wonder if elderly people even constitute the largest age group without smartphones. Also, define 'smartphone'. I'd have said it's a phone with the ability to connect to the internet, but there are a lot of phones with that ability which can't read QR (QR Code - Quick Response code) codes.

Never mind just the elderly, there will be a lot of people who are living in or near poverty for whom a smartphone may not be what they want to spend their meagre resources on. And why should any prospective passenger have to be signed up with a commercial provider of internet services and buy or rent an electronic device to be able to access information to enable them to use public transport?

Isn't it ironic that in a society when there is a lot of loud virtue signalling about social exclusion and inclusivity that this is being seriously considered (albeit I may take a pinch of salt with this news, coming as it does via the press). This is a real piece of potential social exclusion, and should be roundly and loudly condemned.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2021, 07:10:43 pm »

You can get an internet-enabled phone for £10 or £15 brand new with a cheap PAYG (Pay as you go) sim from eg Tesco. It's not a big expense for the utility. I'd expect almost everyone who wants one can in fact afford it, especially if they can also afford a train ticket. But will that read a QR (QR Code - Quick Response code) code? I very much doubt it.
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broadgage
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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2021, 05:07:06 am »

Part of running a proper railway IMHO (in my humble opinion) includes having printed timetables exhibited in poster format at stations, and available on request in pocket sized paper format.
No reliance on apps, electronics, electricity supply, or availability of a phone signal.

A printed paper timetable should mean what it says. Anything electronic will be less reliable and open to doubt and argument as to frequency of updates and what version is being viewed.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
ChrisB
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2021, 08:58:51 am »

Part of running a proper railway IMHO (in my humble opinion) includes having printed timetables exhibited in poster format at stations, and available on request in pocket sized paper format.
No reliance on apps, electronics, electricity supply, or availability of a phone signal.

A printed paper timetable should mean what it says. Anything electronic will be less reliable and open to doubt and argument as to frequency of updates and what version is being viewed.

And paper ones in racks don’t?….hmmm, I came across old timetables regularly that hadn’t been exchanged, and often removed them as no current ones was just as bad as displaying out of date ones
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2021, 09:25:29 am »

Paper and electronic can both get out of date as easily as each other but only the electronic format can be updated to reflect minute-by-minute changes.
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broadgage
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« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2021, 09:58:05 am »

Paper and electronic can both get out of date as easily as each other but only the electronic format can be updated to reflect minute-by-minute changes.

"minute by minute changes" is one of my concerns !  Train shown in electronic timetable when plans are made and tickets purchased, but the timetable is then "updated" and the train removed. Probably with some fiddle whereby updates do not count as cancellations.

A printed timetable should mean what it says, until the date of expiry printed thereon.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
ChrisB
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« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2021, 10:32:24 am »

Why?
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2021, 10:41:04 am »

I agree that printed timetables should be available in some form still, but to say they should mean what they say until they expire is, and has never been, the case.  

Engineering work, emergency alterations etc. mean they can be relied upon far less for accuracy than online timetables.  Be that in an online .pdf that can be updated with e&o after a print run/emergency long term changes, to a journey planner which can be updated to reflect short notice changes as well.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2021, 12:37:02 pm »

Paper and electronic can both get out of date as easily as each other but only the electronic format can be updated to reflect minute-by-minute changes.

"minute by minute changes" is one of my concerns !  Train shown in electronic timetable when plans are made and tickets purchased, but the timetable is then "updated" and the train removed. Probably with some fiddle whereby updates do not count as cancellations.

A printed timetable should mean what it says, until the date of expiry printed thereon.
An electronic timetable can show you that the 10:24 to Exville is currently running 15 minutes late and expected to be overtaken by the 10:33 to Whytown. Or, even worse, that it left five minutes early, leaving last-minute passengers stranded on the platform! (okay, this is extremely rare or unheard of on railways but common with buses).
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