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“Please help me persuade First Great Western Railway to check tickets and ensure all passengers pay for travel” – Neil Thomas-Childs

Description

Neil Thomas-Childs

Can you please inform me as to why your ticket checks are highly irregular, or totally missing, on many of your local (and High Speed Train) services on the Riviera Line, especially the 08.10 service from Dawlish to Paignton, which I travel on daily and have a season ticket for.

In the past two weeks I have only had my season ticket checked on one occasion on the 08.10 service, an extremely busy service. Although many customers do have tickets it is also highly evident when a Guard / Ticket Inspector / Revenue Collector is on the train that many more do not.

On one hand you are trying to ensure that people are buying tickets by imposing £20 fines on people without tickets (but only when Revenue Inspectors are on services - why not give all Guards / Ticket Inspectors the same powers so that anyone without a ticket is given a fine?, as on South West Trains where everyone thus ensures they have a valid ticket) and on the other hand you are then not checking tickets and allowing people to travel for free.

It seems as if on the 08.10 service that the Guards / Ticket Inspectors retreat to their hidey hole at the end of the carriage and only the odd one will 'bravely' venture out into the carriage to ensure that they are carrying out their job and checking that all passengers are 'paying passengers' and not just along for a free ride.

This can also be said of the 14.15 service from Paignton where, when asked, the Guard said that they don't carry out ticket checks until after Exeter. In comparison the Guards / Train Managers on the Cross Country 14.01 service from Paignton always ensure ticket checks are carried out, many times before the train sets off - even going so far as to chucking people without tickets off of the train to go and use the ticket office or ticket machine to make their purchase and thus hammer home the fact that they should have a ticket before boarding. This is not evident on FGW services at all.

Furthermore, if ticket checks are not made those passengers who get on at stations without ticket purchasing facilities, as in the case of Exeter St Thomas, Starcross, Dawlish Warren and Torre, also get free travel as they have no opportunity / no need to buy a ticket.

This issue is additionally annoying as in January, along with all train operators, you will put up the price of tickets and season tickets but this will only affect those of us who actually pay to use the services. After all, it's quite easy to see that an 8.2% ticket rise will not affect the people who pay £0 in the first place.

Problem History

  • 1 Neil Thomas-Childs reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 09:47 27 Nov 2011
  • 2 Neil Thomas-Childs wrote to First Great Western Railway close 09:47 27 Nov 2011

    Here is the letter that Neil Thomas-Childs wrote.

    Lack of Ticket Sales on the Riviera Line (Dawlish to Paignton)

    Can you please inform me as to why your ticket checks are highly irregular, or totally missing, on many of your local (and High Speed Train) services on the Riviera Line, especially the 08.10 service from Dawlish to Paignton, which I travel on daily and have a season ticket for.

    In the past two weeks I have only had my season ticket checked on one occasion on the 08.10 service, an extremely busy service. Although many customers do have tickets it is also highly evident when a Guard / Ticket Inspector / Revenue Collector is on the train that many more do not.

    On one hand you are trying to ensure that people are buying tickets by imposing £20 fines on people without tickets (but only when Revenue Inspectors are on services - why not give all Guards / Ticket Inspectors the same powers so that anyone without a ticket is given a fine?, as on South West Trains where everyone thus ensures they have a valid ticket) and on the other hand you are then not checking tickets and allowing people to travel for free.

    It seems as if on the 08.10 service that the Guards / Ticket Inspectors retreat to their hidey hole at the end of the carriage and only the odd one will 'bravely' venture out into the carriage to ensure that they are carrying out their job and checking that all passengers are 'paying passengers' and not just along for a free ride.

    This can also be said of the 14.15 service from Paignton where, when asked, the Guard said that they don't carry out ticket checks until after Exeter. In comparison the Guards / Train Managers on the Cross Country 14.01 service from Paignton always ensure ticket checks are carried out, many times before the train sets off - even going so far as to chucking people without tickets off of the train to go and use the ticket office or ticket machine to make their purchase and thus hammer home the fact that they should have a ticket before boarding. This is not evident on FGW services at all.

    Furthermore, if ticket checks are not made those passengers who get on at stations without ticket purchasing facilities, as in the case of Exeter St Thomas, Starcross, Dawlish Warren and Torre, also get free travel as they have no opportunity / no need to buy a ticket.

    This issue is additionally annoying as in January, along with all train operators, you will put up the price of tickets and season tickets but this will only affect those of us who actually pay to use the services. After all, it's quite easy to see that an 8.2% ticket rise will not affect the people who pay £0 in the first place.

  • 3 First Group Response responded to Neil Thomas-Childs close 10:00 27 Nov 2011
    Thank you for contacting First Great Western. We confirm receipt of your e-mail and aim to forward a full response within 5 working days. If you have a more urgent issue that needs resolving please telephone on 08457 000125 where we will try to give a faster resolution.

    Please note that you will not be able to reply direct to this email, however if you wish to contact us further by email then please use the address below.

    [email address]
  • 4 Neil Thomas-Childs commented close 17:42 12 Dec 2011

    I have not received a response and have no ref no to follow this up. What should I do?

  • 5 Peter Dixon commented close 17:54 12 Dec 2011

    Hi Neil

    I would advise you hit the email button and ask for an update into your query.

    Cheers

    FMT Volunteer

    anorak
    admin
  • 6 Neil Thomas-Childs wrote to First Great Western Railway close 20:23 12 Dec 2011

    Can you please let me know when I should expect a promised reply to my email? Thank you.

  • 7 First Group Response responded to Neil Thomas-Childs close 20:28 12 Dec 2011
    Thank you for contacting First Great Western. We confirm receipt of your e-mail and aim to forward a full response within 5 working days. If you have a more urgent issue that needs resolving please telephone on 08457 000125 where we will try to give a faster resolution.

    Please note that you will not be able to reply direct to this email, however if you wish to contact us further by email then please use the address below.

    [email address]
  • 8 FGW Customer Relations responded to Neil Thomas-Childs close 09:33 19 Dec 2011
    First Great Western
    Customer Services Team
    FREEPOST
    SWB40576
    Plymouth
    PL4 6ZZ

    Tel: 08457 000 125
    Fax: 08456 008 363
    [First Great Western Railway problem reporting email]

    www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk

    Ref: FGW 6308892

    Dear Mr Thomas-Childs

    Thank you for your recent correspondence. I am sorry for the delay in my reply.

    I am sorry that you have had cause to complain about irregular ticket checks on our services on the Riviera line between Dawlish and Paignton. I understand that you are a Season Ticket holder and travel on this line on a daily basis.

    You are a regular user of our 08:10 service from Dawlish to Paignton and I am sorry that your ticket has only been checked once in a fortnight recently. It may help if I can explain the reason for this.

    Our Conductor Guards are operational members of Traincrew who must be present on every train in order for it to run. Their primary role is the safe working of the train and they will issue and inspect tickets when their safety duties allow them to do so.

    You have drawn a comparison with our colleagues at South West Trains. Their Guards operate in the same way although they do not issue penalty fares of any sort. They will also book Ticket Examiners on some local services for all or part of their journeys to provide assistance with ticket inspection to the Conductor Guard. South West Trains services now all terminate at Exeter St Davids and no longer operate over this section of line and therefore are not comparable.

    Our Revenue Protection Inspectors (RPI) travel on trains in an ad-hoc manner in order to maintain the deterrence of the penalty fare system and will report people for prosecution through the courts where appropriate.

    The 0810 departure from Dawlish to Paignton is a heavily loaded service as it is a train largely used by school children and workers. It frequently loses time between Dawlish and Newton Abbot due to the volumes of passengers trying to board. On a random day that I investigated, three minutes were lost in dwell time at Dawlish platform alone and another three minutes at Teignmouth that is six minutes at two consecutive stations! The impact that this can have on other services, including freight, can escalate very quickly causing further delays and missed connections further down the line.

    It is often impossible for the Conductor Guard to work through such a crowded service to collect revenue over the short stops as being in the wrong place to carry out the operational duties would cause further delay due to the difficulties faced in moving through the heavily loaded train.

    The 08:10 service does however, remain a priority and additional RPI's will be rostered to work this service in the New Year although I am not at liberty to state exactly when this will occur for obvious reasons. A similar arrangement will be put in place for the reciprocal working in the afternoon, the 16:13 service from Paignton.

    First Great Western do operate a 'Buy Before You Board' policy which states that a customer must purchase a valid ticket for travel before boarding the train where there is a opportunity to do so. If they fail to do so, then they may be issued with a Penalty Fare and possibly risk prosecution.

    The resources of our Revenue Protection Team can often be stretched as they cover an area from Taunton through to Penzance, including all branch lines. They will often operate a station block and recently Torre. Starcross and Exeter St Thomas have been targeted, as they have no ticket purchasing facilities. The RPI's can issue Penalty Fares along with the gateline staff whereas a Conductor Guard cannot do this.

    Recently the type of rolling stock used on the Exmouth - Paignton services have been class 142's working as 2 x 2-car units coupled together. These units do not have a corridor connection and so when working in multiple, there is no way for Traincrew to pass from one unit to another.

    One long-term solution is to install automatic gates at Newton Abbot and this is something that is being looked at by the Department for Transport (DfT). Until then it will not always be possible to check the tickets on services that are heavily loaded for these reasons.

    I hope that this information will be of help to you and I thank you for the opportunity to reply.

    Yours sincerely

    Mark Webber
    Customer Relations Senior Officer

    *** Your feedback is really important to us so we would be very grateful for a couple of moments of your time to complete our customer satisfaction survey. If you would like to participate, please click on the link below. ***

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=1M...

    First Great Western Limited. Registered in England & Wales No. 05113733.
    Registered office: Milford House, 1 Milford Street, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 1HL.

    First Rail Holdings Limited. Registered in England No. 5154485. Registered office: 50 Eastbourne Terrace, Paddington, London W2 6LG.

    This message is confidential. It may not be disclosed to, or used by, anyone other than the addressee. If you receive this message in error, please advise us immediately.

    Internet email is not necessarily secure. First does not accept responsibility for changes to any email which occur after the email has been sent. Attachments to this email could contain software viruses which could damage your system. First have checked the attachments for viruses before sending, but you should virus-check them before opening.

    For more information on our range of services or to book your tickets online, please visit:- http://www.firstgroup.com
  • 9 Neil Thomas-Childs commented close 20:28 26 Jan 2012

    FGW checked tickets for the first week that the schools were back in January, posting their heavy-handed revenue inspectors onto the 08.10 train, but since then there have been no ticket checks on this service.

  • 10 Neil Thomas-Childs commented close 22:35 08 Mar 2012

    The checking of tickets continues to be erratic, some guards come through the whole of the two carriages to ensure they see all tickets and sell tickets where appropriate whilst others shut themself away in their cab and do nothing at all. There is also a huge irregularity in guards who sell tickets to people who could have bought them at a ticket office or ticket machine before boarding. Some just sell them to people whilst others give people a lecture about needing to buy tickets before boarding. The revenue inspectors were on the line for a week at the beginning of January and then have not been seen since on the daily journeys I make.

    Cross Country make sure they check tickets on all the journeys I make with them on teh same line and, although FGW disputed it in their response, South West Trains also check tickets on all journeys.

    It continues to seem as if FGW are not bothered about the customers who actually buy their tickets as they let so many people off buying theirs. It shouldn't fall to some of us buying tickets to support those that don't.

  • 11 Tickets Please commented close 09:22 27 Mar 2012

    Working both the High Speed Trains and Local units I can assure you that a large majority do carry out ticket checks. It is extremely hard for anybody to check tickets before Exeter on that particular service due to the amount of stops and length of the train to get through. (CrossCountry usually having their usual 4 car train which can have a full check over in about 15 minutes)
    Personally speaking, Revenue protection is something I work very hard at.
    As you said with CrossCountry, I ALWAYS check tickets before we leave Paignton, and usually the same at Newton Abott whilst we are waiting for a faster service to pass. I also go through the train checking tickets at every stop.
    Those who do not are monitored, and the company know who they are.

  • 12 Neil Thomas-Childs commented close 15:38 31 Mar 2012

    Thanks for your comment 'Tickets Please'. I can't agree that it's hard to check tickets on the Paignton to Exeter section of the service though as the majority of the local services are 2 coaches, with some being 4 and some even 1!

    Just found a letter from FGW regarding this issue from last Sept (2011) and they state in that letter that 'Our Train Managers should inspect all tickets at some stage during the journey' which is a bit different to the reply I got from them this time which stated 'Our Conductor Guards are operational members of Traincrew who must be present on every train in order for it to run. Their primary role is the safe working of the train and they will issue and inspect tickets when their safety duties allow them to do so.' Seems like FGW need to decide which is their policy.

    The 08.10 service from Dawlish to Paignton is a busy service, which makes it all the more important for ticket checks to take place. The other day at Paignton FGW had four staff checking tickets for the 16.55 departure, which is nowhere as busy as earlier in the day, so maybe they need to look at moving their staff around to busier times of the day.

    Standing on Dawlish station last week, there was one passenger bragging at how he had only just bought his first ticket since the start of the year (for a service to Exeter the previous weekend) as he knew he could travel on this particular service without the need to have one. (!) That's what makes me annoyed when I am paying for my season ticket but could just travel for free like lots of other people, taking my chance to purchase a ticket if ticket checks take place. I could also have the same mindset as others and be prepared to pay the £20 fine if a revenue inspector is ever seen again! Since January I have only seen them for a week and then never again. FGW say that this is a problem line for fare evaders but then don't put the resources in to change this culture.

    I did approach the only member of train staff, Anna, who constanttly checks tickets when she is on the 08.10 service, and thanked her for doing so and said that I would be phoning FGW Customer Services to pass this on that she is the only one who regularly carries out ticket checks. Her reply was that it wouldn't be necessary to do this as she said she 'was only doing my job', to which I replied that it was a shame that a lot of others didn't do the same. It's also a shame that Anna can't be on the service more regularly.

    So, thanks 'Tickets Please' for doing your job properly. Let's hope that FGW work to ensure that all your colleagues do theirs as well.

  • 13 Neil Thomas-Childs wrote to First Great Western Railway close 15:45 31 Mar 2012

    Follow up comments regarding my issue on FixMyTransport

    Just found a letter from FGW regarding this issue from last Sept (Ref 6147125/FGW-1) and you state in that letter that 'Our Train Managers should inspect all tickets at some stage during the journey' which is a bit different to the reply I got from you this time which stated 'Our Conductor Guards are operational members of Traincrew who must be present on every train in order for it to run. Their primary role is the safe working of the train and they will issue and inspect tickets when their safety duties allow them to do so.' Seems like FGW need to decide which their policy is.

    The 08.10 service from Dawlish to Paignton is a busy service, which makes it all the more important for ticket checks to take place. The other day at Paignton FGW had four staff checking tickets for the 16.55 departure, which is nowhere as busy as earlier in the day, so maybe they need to look at moving their staff around to busier times of the day.

    Standing on Dawlish station last week, there was one passenger bragging at how he had only just bought his first ticket (End of March 2012) since the start of the year (for a service to Exeter the previous weekend) as he knew he could travel on this particular service without the need to have one. (!) That's what makes me annoyed when I am paying for my season ticket but could just travel for free like lots of other people, taking my chance to purchase a ticket if ticket checks take place. I could also have the same mindset as others and be prepared to pay the £20 fine if a revenue inspector is ever seen again! Since January I have only seen them for a week and then never again. FGW say that this is a problem line for fare evaders but then don't put the resources in to change this culture.

    I did approach the only member of train staff, Anna, who constantly checks tickets when she is on the 08.10 service, and thanked her for doing so and said that I would be phoning FGW Customer Services to pass this on that she is the only one who regularly carries out ticket checks. Her reply was that it wouldn't be necessary to do this as she said she 'was only doing my job', to which I replied that it was a shame that a lot of others didn't do the same. It's also a shame that Anna can't be on the service more regularly.

    Can you please inform me as to what procedures you have put in place to continue to increase the amount of ticket checks on the 08.10 service since our last communications, and what plans you have for the future?

  • 14 Neil Thomas-Childs added an update close 15:45 31 Mar 2012

    I have re-contacted FGW to ask them about progress with this issue.

  • 15 First Group Response responded to Neil Thomas-Childs close 15:51 31 Mar 2012
    Thank you for contacting First Great Western. We confirm receipt of your e-mail and aim to forward a full response within 5 working days. If you have a more urgent issue that needs resolving please telephone on 08457 000125 where we will try to give a faster resolution.

    Please note that you will not be able to reply direct to this email, however if you wish to contact us further by email then please use the address below.

    [email address]
  • 16 FGW Customer Relations responded to Neil Thomas-Childs close 23:47 12 Apr 2012
    First Great Western
    Customer Services Team
    FREEPOST
    SWB40576
    Plymouth
    PL4 6ZZ

    Tel: 08457 000 125
    Fax: 08456 008 363
    [First Great Western Railway problem reporting email]

    www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk

    Ref: FGW/6499407

    Dear Mr Thomas-Childs

    Thank you for your email of 31 March 2012, following the problems you have experienced on your journeys with us. I was sorry to learn that the revenue protection on our service remains a concern for you and I can certainly appreciate the frustration caused when other passengers travel without paying to do so.

    I have been in contact with the guards manager for the area in which you travel, he has confirmed that they constantly monitor the conductors to ensure the appropriate revenue protection duties are carried out and provide the necessary feedback where required.

    I was pleased to learn of your satisfaction with Anna, the conductor you have encountered on your more positive journeys and her manager has been made aware of your positive feedback.

    As a result of your email, I can confirm that our Revenue Protection department will be carrying out enhanced duties in the morning on the route you travel and I do hope you notice an improvement.

    Thank you once again for contacting me.

    Yours sincerely

    Niomi Bradley
    Customer Services Advisor

    *** Your feedback is really important to us so we would be very grateful for a couple of moments of your time to complete our customer satisfaction survey. If you would like to participate, please click on the link below. ***

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=1M...

    First Greater Western Limited. Registered in England & Wales No. 05113733.
    Registered office: Milford House, 1 Milford Street, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 1HL.

    First Rail Holdings Limited. Registered in England No. 5154485. Registered office: 50 Eastbourne Terrace, Paddington, London W2 6LG.

    This message is confidential. It may not be disclosed to, or used by, anyone other than the addressee. If you receive this message in error, please advise us immediately.

    Internet email is not necessarily secure. First does not accept responsibility for changes to any email which occur after the email has been sent. Attachments to this email could contain software viruses which could damage your system. First have checked the attachments for viruses before sending, but you should virus-check them before opening.

    For more information on our range of services or to book your tickets online, please visit:- http://www.firstgroup.com
  • 17 Myf Nixon commented close 09:18 13 Apr 2012

    "As a result of your email, I can confirm that our Revenue Protection department will be carrying out enhanced duties in the morning on the route you travel and I do hope you notice an improvement."

    Great news!

    anorak
    admin
  • 18 Roland Rance commented close 13:20 13 Apr 2012

    I travelled on the 10.00 train from Paddington to Torquay 6 April. Our tickets were not checked at the beginning or end of the journey, nor at any time between. No ticket inspector passed along the train, to the best of my knowledge nobody's tickets were checked, and there could easily have been several passengers travelling without a valid ticket. On returning on the 15.41 from Newton Abbot on 10 April, my ticket was checked, but my wife's (with family railcard) was not.

  • 19 Neil Thomas-Childs commented close 21:18 13 Apr 2012

    Seems that FGW have changed their tune (quite rightly and good to see) on their guards and fare collection between their first reply on 19th Dec

    'Our Conductor Guards are operational members of Traincrew who must be present on every train in order for it to run. Their primary role is the safe working of the train and they will issue and inspect tickets when their safety duties allow them to do so'

    and this latest reply on 12th April

    'I have been in contact with the guards manager for the area in which you travel, he has confirmed that they constantly monitor the conductors to ensure the appropriate revenue protection duties are carried out and provide the necessary feedback where required.'

    As Roland has commented their ticket checks are totally irregular - how can they not check tickets on a 3 to 4 hour journey?

    I am glad to see that FGW are seeming to finally take their fare collection duties seriously and shall continue to monitor what happens.

  • 20 Neil Thomas-Childs commented close 16:28 14 Apr 2012

    I went and met our local MP for Newton Abbott, Anne Marie Morris, today to thank her for her support in trying to get a better train service for the South West (she wrote a brilliant piece in the Western Morning News last year and regularly has updates on her work on this in our local paper) and we had a great discussion about all things FGW and the new franchise.

    I brought her up to speed with the situation of FGW as I see it on my daily commutes and for leisure and introduced her to Fix My Transport, which she had never heard of but is now going to check out.

    She has asked me to keep a daily log on how things go with my use of FGW / train services in the South West and to keep her up-to-date with what is happening. I had been meaning to attend one of her surgeries to meet her for ages and am glad that I finally got round to it. I would definitely recommend it to anyone else having problems.

Comment
  • started 27 November 2011
  • supporters 2
Train route between Dawlish and Paignton operated by First Great Western Railway, Crosscountry
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