Friday, 30 November 2018

Not a Lot Going On

Not a lot going on at the moment, so here are two photos of Goole Docks in 1979 uncovered duirng the never-ending colour slide to digital conversion project.

                                             Lorry fans will love the Foden on this one.

Monday, 29 October 2018

I was going to stop, but. . . .

I ended my 10-part series of blog posts on my battle with the railways over Delay Repay compensation by declaring victory (read again here) but lamenting that I was still out of pocket following not being able to use the non-refundable tickets I'd bought and paid for for a journey to Peterborough.  I said, however, that a few more Delay Repay claims might put that right.

I was going to stop writing about Delay Repay after that, but little did I know what Trans Pennine Express had in store for me.
When my first claim, for a delayed journey to Lincoln back in July, was wrongly refused and I had to resort both to an appeal and to get watchdog Transport Focus involved, Trans Pennine refunded me not just the 50% of my fare to which I was entitled but the whole 100%.  There was no explanation for their generosity and I assumed they were just feeling guilty about wrongly refusing me in the first place.

But this morning, what should arrive through the post - all the way from First Group (TPE's parent company) in Aberdeen - but another cheque for the same amount!  The first cheque had been accompanied by the usual grovelling letter of apology for the "inconvenience" I suffered (!) but this one had nothing more than a remittance advice slip asking me to "please use the attached cheque to clear the following outstanding items" and the reference number of my claim.

So for a 53 minute delay to my arrival in Lincoln, for which I'd claimed £9.23  I've now been awarded £36.90 from Trans Pennine.  

The only downside is I now feel mildly annoyed when my trains arrive on time!

Monday, 22 October 2018

Compensation: Episode 10 Victory!

In my previous post I wrote that of the four Delay Repay claims made to the railways this year two had been settled, one wrongly refused and another "pending".

The pending claim was from Trans Pennine. I'd bought a ticket (actually two tickets, split at Sheffield) for a journey from Lancaster to Lincoln. An incident on the  direct between Manchester and Sheffield saw me having to divert via Leeds and consequently arrive at Lincoln 53 minutes late.

Trans Pennine's computer (I'm convinced claims are initially processed by computer) rejected my claim because it hadn't been programmed to take account of the line closure and diversion. Despite the fact that I had bought Advance Purchase tickets, restricted to certain trains, it came up with a route it "thought" I had taken and on which I would not have been delayed.  

I had to send two emails to the Customer Services Team and refer the matter to Transport Focus before I could get a human being to investigate, but when they did they agreed I was right and refunded not just the 50% of the ticket price I was entitled to but the whole 100%. Mind you, I haven't received the cheque yet as it takes them three weeks to issue one (do they have many claims, I wonder?) but I'm claiming it as a double success!

Since then, I have had to make yet another claim, this time from Virgin Trains.  My journey to Liverpool on October 3rd was disrupted when the Virgin train to Wigan arrived late in Lancaster and then sat there for 15 minutes whilst a "faulty door" was sorted out. This meant I  missed my connection onto the fast train to Liverpool and had to follow behind on the stopper. Even then I wouldn't have been entitled to compensation had not the stopper itself been delayed. It arrived only 3 minutes late, but that was 32 minutes after I should have been there.

Under the Delay Repay rules, a delay of over 30 minutes entitles you to 25% of your return fare which only amounted to £3.42  but I've become so engrossed in the Delay Repay process that I claimed anyway - and was rewarded with a cheque for £6.83 - double what I was entitled to!

So with Northern sending me a free return ticket when I only asked for a single and both Trans Pennine and Virgin sending me double the amount I was entitled to, whilst Arriva Trains Wales paid up the right amount promptly,  I'm going to ignore the £2.20 that Northern cheated me out of at York and declare total victory!

But I'm also going to have to ignore the £30 or so that I paid for non-refundable Advance Tickets to Peterborough and back in September but was unable to use.  Oh well, a few more Delay Repay claims should put that right!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

It's Been a Long Time Since I saw One of Those

 I'm just back from a short holiday in Scotland, during which we rented a campervan (although apparently they are "motorhomes" nowadays).  I may write a piece about the relative virtues of vans and boats later, but one of the highlights of the holiday for me (if not for Hilary) was coming across one of these:

Stagecoach service 73, from Dundee to Carnoustie and Arbroath must surely be the last UK bus service, apart from the "heritage Routemasters" on service 15 in London, to employ conductors!

There's no warning. The only indication that there is anything different about the 73 is that when you go to pay the driver (English bus passes not valid abroad of course) he looks at you a little oddly and you realise he has no ticket machine!

The conductor's job has changed a little since I last did it in the 1970s. Most passengers now have some form of pass or multi-journey ticket to be checked or scanned and comparatively little cash is taken, although I was pleased to see that the individual in the photo above did have a traditional leather cash bag over his right shoulder.

I was a little disappointed, although not really surprised, to see that the equally traditional cries of "hold tight, please" and "any more fares" have now disappeared, with none of the three conductors we encountered using them, whilst passengers have got used to the idea that they need to ring the bell to stop the bus, which used to be the conductor's job.  Neither does the conductor need to ring the bell to start it away from a stop as modern bus drivers are used to checking themselves that everyone that wants to alight or board has done so and that it is safe to pull away.

The 73 is a busy route and runs every 10 minutes. The presence of the conductors means that buses spend much less time stationary at stops so presumably the reduced running time (and presumably a lower rate of pay for the driver) pay for the extra cost of employing them.  It's also an extra guard against a competitor moving in on the service, as to be really competitive they too would have to find and employ a second person on each bus.

Compensation Update:  A Victory and a Defeat!
Almost six months after my train from Carnforth to Lancaster was cancelled and three months after Northern Rail tried to fob me off with a cheque for 55p when I was entitled to a free single ticket to anywhere on their network and following two referrals to watchdog Transport Focus, I have now received an apology from Northern and a free ticket - which by way of further apology for the way the matter has been handled they have upgraded to a free RETURN.

On the other hand, I have had to admit defeat over the cancellation of the 2010 train from York to Knaresborough on 27 June. Both Northern and now Transport Focus insist that the train did operate, despite the indicator at York station declaring it to be cancelled - something confirmed by the booking clerk at the ticket office and the presence of a train to Knaresborough in the bay platform at York from before 2010 until its departure as the next service at 2110!

Arriva Trains Wales admitted their failing and paid up promptly, which just leaves Trans Pennine, who, like Northern, insist I did not arrive late at my destination and who have ignored my first email to their "Customer Assistance Team" (sic) asking them to reconsider.  I've now sent a second request and if they don't respond to that it will be Transport Focus again.

So, Latest Score:   Jim 2  Railways 1  (and 1 game gone to extra time).