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CAF to build new LHCS for Caledonian Sleeper


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6 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

Hmm, interesting to see that having sometime back become 'customers' passengers are now being called 'guests'.  When we have guests we don't charge them for their stay with us.

 

Suspect "guests" being used because it's sleeper service, the hotel industry has long used guests to describe their customers.

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It’s when things go wrong that we see the true nature of the companies contracted to run these operations, which IMHO are done for the benefit of the shareholders and the senior management only and everyone else, especially the passengers or “guests” can take a running jump.  Carillion went to the wall due to corporate greed combined with astounding lack of integrity at the top and I suspect other “services” companies are no better.

 

The Caledonian Sleeper is suffering an endless series of “travelling hell” reports in the media from which it may never recover.  The buck for this should stop at Serco board level but these days those at the top are experts at shirking any sort of responsibility.  They just go into hiding pushing out weasel phrases about their usually excellent levels of service.

 

Darius

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Won't argue that Serco doesn't deserve a lot of blame, but a lot of this would be a non-issue if the new equipment wasn't consistently having faults.

 

And while I haven't followed this closely enough I wouldn't be surprised if the Scottish Government can share some of the blame with pressure / lack of flexibility in the franchise agreement to get the new stock in service before it has been shown to be reliable.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Darius43 said:

The Caledonian Sleeper is suffering an endless series of “travelling hell” reports in the media from which it may never recover.  The buck for this should stop at Serco board level but these days those at the top are experts at shirking any sort of responsibility.  They just go into hiding pushing out weasel phrases about their usually excellent levels of service.

There are times when it seems that those who take to social media to complain inevitably classify their treatment as "hell" . The new stock may have its problems, but I would instinctively take many of the "travelling hell" comments with a pinch of salt. 

 

Jim

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10 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

Hmm, interesting to see that having sometime back become 'customers' passengers are now being called 'guests'.  When we have guests we don't charge them for their stay with us.

 

And I do wish that twit Corte would shut up, permanently.  Boy am I glad I declined the TSSA's invitation to remain a member when I retired with a clown like him now at the helm.

 

Would you prefer Mick Cash then?

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

Hmm, interesting to see that having sometime back become 'customers' passengers are now being called 'guests'.  When we have guests we don't charge them for their stay with us.

 

 

Sleeper passengers became Guests with the Serco takeover, although, as a Control colleague said when one of the trains was massively delayed, the word should be Prisoners !

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Serco is a company. Company directors have a duty only to their shareholders, to maximise the value of the company, dividends etc. No responsibility to any clients/passengers/guests/customers etc. That is what happens when something is privatised. A train operating company has a contract with a government department  or similar and it has to fulfil that contract, but no more. If it breaches the contract there are obviously penalties. But there is no direct responsibility to the passengers. Sorry.

Jonathan

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1 hour ago, corneliuslundie said:

But there is no direct responsibility to the passengers.

Other than the contract to get you from A to B as per your ticket, by any reasonable means. What constitutes "reasonable" lies with the opinion of the learned gentleman in the curly wig.

 

Jim

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1 hour ago, corneliuslundie said:

Serco is a company. Company directors have a duty only to their shareholders, to maximise the value of the company, dividends etc. No responsibility to any clients/passengers/guests/customers etc. That is what happens when something is privatised. A train operating company has a contract with a government department  or similar and it has to fulfil that contract, but no more. If it breaches the contract there are obviously penalties. But there is no direct responsibility to the passengers. Sorry.

Jonathan

 

Thank You! As succinct an explanation as you could hope for as to why public transport infrastructure needs to be in public ownership, for the benefit of citizens, not shareholders.

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Serco is a horrible company,  I've had a lot of spells in NHS hospitals everything was fine apart from food and cleaning  both of which were done by serco,.

One incident was the cleaner was wiping the floor then he went to wipe my phone with the same cloth! 

I went into a rant then realised the cleaner was having an assessment by some idiot serco manager,  my bed and phone were cleaned by a NHS member of staff  but serco should not be there.  They cut corners,  treat staff badly  so if it goes bust bring it on and the shareholders lose money... hard luck

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1 hour ago, jim.snowdon said:

Other than the contract to get you from A to B as per your ticket, by any reasonable means. What constitutes "reasonable" lies with the opinion of the learned gentleman in the curly wig.

 

Jim

And doesn't include dumping you at Preston (or anywhere else) in the wee small hours with no effort at all to get you to the destination of the train you were just ejected from.  To do that is in fact contrary to the national Conditions Of Travel which clearly state  -

 

cotvl.jpg.faeed1783056091157dd60746109cbc9.jpg

 

For the operator (Serco) to have made such an arrangement with another operator (Virgin in this case) ought really to have been no more than a simple 'phone call to bring into effect some sort of prior agreement.  This sort of thing has been going on for years and is a matter of very basic contingency planning which hardly needs re-nationalisation or questions in The House (of Commons or anywhere else) to get it properly established.

 

I would be inclined to question not just the operator of the sleeper service, but also the Civil Servants (working for the Scottish Govt in this instance) who agreed the contract,  to establish why this had not been done.

 

Edited by The Stationmaster
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38 minutes ago, Grumbleweed said:

 

Thank You! As succinct an explanation as you could hope for as to why public transport infrastructure needs to be in public ownership, for the benefit of citizens, not shareholders.

As a point of pedantry the infrastructure of the national rail network is of course already in public ownership and has been for some years.  Moreover Govt (in this instance the Scottish Assembly & its Civil Servants) set the terms under which this franchise was let and would have been responsible for ensuring that the terms of the franchise contract with the operator were to a satisfactory standard).  

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11 hours ago, caradoc said:

 

Sleeper passengers became Guests with the Serco takeover, although, as a Control colleague said when one of the trains was massively delayed, the word should be Prisoners !

 

Serco also "manage" some prisons and prisoner transport. So it makes perfect sense to stick to what they "know" when they stick their fingers in another pie.

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Sorry, I should have made it clear that the contract with the government -  in this case the Scottish Assembly - brings into play any conditions in the contract regarding duties to passengers, in this case presumably conforming to the National Conditions of Carriage., but this is not actually a contract with the passenger as far as I can tell. So if Serco breaks its contract with the SA it is for the SA to follow it up, even though the direct effect is on the passenger. The arrangements for delay repay, for example, are not a contract, but a facility offered to the passenger voluntarily.

Please someone say if this is wrong, as I am not a lawyer.

Jonathan

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1 hour ago, corneliuslundie said:

Sorry, I should have made it clear that the contract with the government -  in this case the Scottish Assembly - brings into play any conditions in the contract regarding duties to passengers, in this case presumably conforming to the National Conditions of Carriage., but this is not actually a contract with the passenger as far as I can tell. So if Serco breaks its contract with the SA it is for the SA to follow it up, even though the direct effect is on the passenger. The arrangements for delay repay, for example, are not a contract, but a facility offered to the passenger voluntarily.

Please someone say if this is wrong, as I am not a lawyer.

Jonathan

But overall the Conditions of Travel - appropriate item quoted above - apply and represent part of the 'contract'/arrangement between the train operator and the ticket holder travelling on their train.  The quoted item is part of the operator's responsibility to its passengers (whatever they might call them) - and don't forget it rather critically uses the word 'will'.  Those Conditions of Travel apply to any operator on the national network although in many cases operators publish their own 'Passengers' Charter' which as the base case has at least to be compliant with the national Conditions of Travel but in some cases can be even more in favour of the passenger in various perturbed situations  (yes, some are).

 

I can't find a Passengers' Charter in respect of the Anglo Scottish sleeper services so there might not be one but that doesn't particularly matter because at that point the Conditions of Travel would be applicable - as in item 28,2 which I quoted.   As Jim said previously the word 'reasonable' could be down to interpretation.  But I doubt if anyone would argue the case that it was unreasonable not to make immediate arrangements to transfer the passengers, without extra cost to them, to a Virgin service onwards from Preston when even at that time of day they are running at almost half hourly intervals.

 

A pertinent point also is that the new sleeper operation has been having reliability problems.  It would therefore have been incumbent upon the operator to have applied the Conditions of Travel in the recent past although how they applied in terms of refund, alternative travel arrangements, or hotel accommodation would be very much dependent on individual circumstances and the time/place at which disruption occurred.  But surely any sensible operator would, in the face of recurring reliability problems have been 100% on the ball in getting in place its procedures, and agreements with other train operators etc, ready for the consequences of any problems.  It would appear that Serco might not have done that or they haven't done it comprehensively enough.

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Given the trouble that Serco are having introducing this mk5 stock I think it will be interesting to see if TPX have similar issues. Whilst TPX will only be running fixed formations, and with a less complex interior, might we see these problems (which appear to be related to the running gear, i.e. not showers and beds) recur? 

 

If the problems dont recur, it’s pretty damning for the Scottish Govt/Serco to have made a mess of introducing something that another company will have managed well?

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Serco did say that other companies would not accept the passengers at first, are we focussing too much on Serco here where perhaps Virgin and LNW might have a part in this as well.

 

It may simply be that Serco indicated they had a problem with the train in good time and politics came into play between the TOCs over revenue which meant at first the only option was to ask the passengers to purchase another ticket and reclaim it from Serco.

 

They could have hired a fleet of coaches but a trip down the M6 during the morning rush hour all the way to London would be miserable to say the least.

 

Asking the passengers to purchase a ticket may have been the least worst option, what also be missing is that there may have been a expediency issue as well, to get to London early it may have been necessary for some passengers to purchase a ticket to get the earliest Virgin departure whilst others could have waited till Serco completed negotiations for onward travel.

 

We are only privy to the news and union view of the situation.

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A thought which struck me after I had penned the above, and thank you to Stationmaster for his response, is that the National Conditions of Carriage presumably only come into play if they are cited in the agreement between the franchiser and the TOC and they only come into play between the TOC and the passenger if they are cited as part of the conditions of travel, ie on the reverse of the ticket - which raises an interesting question about e-tickets, but that is for another day. They are rather like the old railway bylaws in this respect. Am I right in this? Or they are actually enshrined in a statute which states that TOCs must abide by them?

The NRE website has the following

When you buy a ticket to travel on the railway network you enter into an agreement with the Train Companies. That agreement gives you the right to make the journey, or journeys, between the stations or within the zones shown on the ticket you have bought. These National Rail Conditions of Travel are also part of that agreement and they apply to all domestic (non-international) journeys by scheduled passenger train services of the Train Companies on the railway network of Great Britain.

They are "owned" by the Rail Delivery Group which is a private company.

but it does not state the legal basis for these conditions. It may be argued that when you buy a ticket you should be aware of them - sort of buyer beware,

This does not exonerate any possible failings by Serco or other TOCs, 

Jonathan

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Usually the WCML TOCs are very good at arranging for tickets to be accepted by other companies and routes. When things go tango uniform at Euston they invariably arrange for tickets to be accepted via the MML, ECML where applicable and on Chiltern trains. So it begs the question why such arrangements weren't in place in this case. 

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20 hours ago, corneliuslundie said:

Serco is a company. Company directors have a duty only to their shareholders, to maximise the value of the company, dividends etc. No responsibility to any clients/passengers/guests/customers etc. That is what happens when something is privatised. A train operating company has a contract with a government department  or similar and it has to fulfil that contract, but no more. If it breaches the contract there are obviously penalties. But there is no direct responsibility to the passengers. Sorry.

Jonathan

 

Agree to some extent, and Serco have certainly not covered themselves with glory, in this area and others. However, a private company does have to provide some level of service or product that people are willing to buy, or they will not be in business long. And does the Caledonian Sleeper not have a refund policy, going as far as full money back once delay reaches a certain level ?

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10 hours ago, woodenhead said:

Serco did say that other companies would not accept the passengers at first, are we focussing too much on Serco here where perhaps Virgin and LNW might have a part in this as well.

 

It may simply be that Serco indicated they had a problem with the train in good time and politics came into play between the TOCs over revenue which meant at first the only option was to ask the passengers to purchase another ticket and reclaim it from Serco.

 

They could have hired a fleet of coaches but a trip down the M6 during the morning rush hour all the way to London would be miserable to say the least.

 

Asking the passengers to purchase a ticket may have been the least worst option, what also be missing is that there may have been a expediency issue as well, to get to London early it may have been necessary for some passengers to purchase a ticket to get the earliest Virgin departure whilst others could have waited till Serco completed negotiations for onward travel.

 

We are only privy to the news and union view of the situation.

It really was down to Serco.  For example if the GWML is blocked eats of reading GWR passengers are normally diverted at Reading onto Waterloo trains which were SWT and are now SWR.   That means the passengers concerned are off route and, in normal circumstances, would not have a valid ticket for the train on which they are travelling.  So clearly there is an agreement in place betwen GWR and SWR and similar things happen elsewhere on the network when there is disruptiont

 

It is no more difficult for Serco to have made an agreement for such an arrangement with Virgin - in fact it would strike me as downright stupid not to have such an arrangement in place.  But unless such an arrangement exists and they are made aware that it has been brought onto use Virgin on-train staff are quite within their rights to refuse tickets which are not valid on their train and to charge passengers accordingly for the journey for which they do not have a ticket.  Making such arrangements are hardly rocket science - back in the 1990s I was making far more complex arrangements with other train operators about the use of their traction and Drivers at short notice in an emergency and equally other operators were coming to me to hire Drivers and traction etc.  Making arrangements for emergency  ticket validity is massively simpler than agreeing a call-off contract for short notice resource hire; it really is simple.

 

But Serco had either clearly not made such arrangements or if they had them in place either they did not implement them in the correct manner or  they did not implement them in a properly timely manner. With an arrangement in place there's no need to involve any sort of 'politics' at all - that sort of thing is something to be dealt with when the arrangement is first agreed.  And if an arrangement exisy ted but was excluded from certain trains that should have been explained to passengers - by Serco's staff.  

 

As you say we are relying on a news report and they can of course be inaccurate although what does seem clear is that Virgin's staff refused to take X number of passengers unless they paid the relevant fare,

 

Incidentally I have now found this although interestingly their website refers to the national Conditions of Carriage - which of course no longer exist in this respect having been superseded by the National Rail Conditions of Travel.  From what I have seen from a quick skim the  Caledonian Sleeper 'Guest Experience Charter' does not include anything accurately reflecting item 28.2 of the Conditions of Travel - oops!

 

https://www.sleeper.scot/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/CSGuestCharterSept2016.pdf

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12 hours ago, woodenhead said:

 

Asking the passengers to purchase a ticket may have been the least worst option, what also be missing is that there may have been a expediency issue as well, to get to London early it may have been necessary for some passengers to purchase a ticket to get the earliest Virgin departure whilst others could have waited till Serco completed negotiations for onward travel.

 

We are only privy to the news and union view of the situation.

 

 

Christmas 2012.. I was Johannesburg, 1st class ticket and matching gold card. The SAA flight to London went tech, everything was at a premium being christmas. I walked upto the counter, to be asked if I wanted to wait 24 hours or go alternative.. being xmas I opted for the alternative... the guy pulled out a cashbox, walked over to BA and pulled out the folded stuff to pay them cash for my ticket home.

 

UK aint Africa, TOCs arent that alien to each other, I’m sure someone senior on the train had a company credit card. This shouldnt have happened at any extreme.

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33 minutes ago, adb968008 said:

 

 

Christmas 2012.. I was Johannesburg, 1st class ticket and matching gold card. The SAA flight to London went tech, everything was at a premium being christmas. I walked upto the counter, to be asked if I wanted to wait 24 hours or go alternative.. being xmas I opted for the alternative... the guy pulled out a cashbox, walked over to BA and pulled out the folded stuff to pay them cash for my ticket home.

 

UK aint Africa, TOCs arent that alien to each other, I’m sure someone senior on the train had a company credit card. This shouldnt have happened at any extreme.

Your assuming that someone associated with Serco had a company credit card with a massive credit limit to hand.

 

I'm not saying that it's right but sometimes the least worst option is to ask someone to do something that on the face of it is absolving yourself of a problem: in this case it's 5:20 in the morning, the next train to London leaves at 5:33 and the following direct service is 6:57.  You have yet to hear from your TOC that there is ticketeting available and people don't want to wait till nearly 7am for the following service.  So what do you do, you tell them to get the train, purchase a ticket and reclaim it from Serco, problem solved.

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11 hours ago, woodenhead said:

Your assuming that someone associated with Serco had a company credit card with a massive credit limit to hand.

 

I'm not saying that it's right but sometimes the least worst option is to ask someone to do something that on the face of it is absolving yourself of a problem: in this case it's 5:20 in the morning, the next train to London leaves at 5:33 and the following direct service is 6:57.  You have yet to hear from your TOC that there is ticketeting available and people don't want to wait till nearly 7am for the following service.  So what do you do, you tell them to get the train, purchase a ticket and reclaim it from Serco, problem solved.

Which is precisely why it should all be set up in advance by agreements with other operators.  When things go whatsits upwards all that then needs to happen is  your Control to talk to their Control and Robert is your mother's brother.

 

Now the interesting question is obviously whether or not, apart from having an agreement in place, Serco have actually got a Control of some sort. (who issued their Operating Licence I wonder?)

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