“Please help me persuade Virgin Trains to correct their own mistakes” – Robert Edmondson

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Robert Edmondson

On Friday the 27th April 2012 I travelled on the 19.40 London Midland Train to arrive at Rugby at 20.17 with the intention of catching the 20.23 Virgin connection to London Euston arriving at 21.14, a regular change made by many commuters due to the quicker travel time of the Virgin Train service. I have made this journey many times before, travelling almost 20 times during the last half year and have never experience anything worse than a minor delay.

On this particular instance though the London Midland Train was delayed by around 6 minutes, arriving into Rugby at roughly the time the Virgin Train was due to depart. Indeed upon arriving I could see the Virgin Train waiting on the adjacent platform with the doors still open. However, the second the other commuters and myself got off the London Midland Train the Virgin train doors immediately closed. Not realising what was happening at the time myself and the rest of the commuters attempted to board the train. However, the buttons did not respond and after about 30 seconds the train began to depart while we were still attempting to board the train. As many passengers were touching the train at the time of departure this was an extremely dangerous thing to do as the train jolts on departure and a commuter unsteady on their feet could easily have fallen into the gap between the train and the platform. Indeed, neither myself or any of the commuters I spoke to after remembered the guard whistling to signal the trains departure.

The end result was that many people missed their connection to London at a very heavy time penalty and a potentially dangerous and surely illegal train departure.

I find it hard to believe that the driver of the Virgin train was not aware of the London Midland train pulling along-side him and must also have known about the many commuters who would be attempting to transfer to his train. In addition, the absence of the guard suggests this was known and deliberately ignored, perhaps due to a rivalry with London Midland train company.

Having missed my stop I had no choice but to re-board the London Midland train on which I was informed by the guard that the reason we were delayed in the first palce was due to a Virgin train holding them up earlier in their journey, He stated he believed it to be the 18.35 Piccadilly to Euston service.

In all, as all commuters who wished to make this change had paid extra for the improved speed of the Virgin service but missed their change and were placed in a dangerous situation due to errors, both on Virgins behalf, then I feel a full refund and apology should be a matter of common courtesy.

In addition, due to the dangerous release where the driver and guard must have been fully aware of passengers attempting to board while they began to move I feel that severe disciplinary action should be taken against the members of staff involved. If an elderly person had fallen onto the track during this move then I'm sure there would have been severe criticism of Virgin in the press and the company should strive to, and be seen to strive to, prevent this scenario from occurring again.

I await with interest their response to this e-mail,

Dr Robert Edmondson

Problem History

  • 1 Robert Edmondson reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 21:33 30 Apr 2012
  • 2 Robert Edmondson wrote to Virgin Trains close 21:33 30 Apr 2012

    Here is the letter that Robert Edmondson wrote.

    Missed Train

    On Friday the 27th April 2012 I travelled on the 19.40 London Midland Train to arrive at Rugby at 20.17 with the intention of catching the 20.23 Virgin connection to London Euston arriving at 21.14, a regular change made by many commuters due to the quicker travel time of the Virgin Train service. I have made this journey many times before, travelling almost 20 times during the last half year and have never experience anything worse than a minor delay.

    On this particular instance though the London Midland Train was delayed by around 6 minutes, arriving into Rugby at roughly the time the Virgin Train was due to depart. Indeed upon arriving I could see the Virgin Train waiting on the adjacent platform with the doors still open. However, the second the other commuters and myself got off the London Midland Train the Virgin train doors immediately closed. Not realising what was happening at the time myself and the rest of the commuters attempted to board the train. However, the buttons did not respond and after about 30 seconds the train began to depart while we were still attempting to board the train. As many passengers were touching the train at the time of departure this was an extremely dangerous thing to do as the train jolts on departure and a commuter unsteady on their feet could easily have fallen into the gap between the train and the platform. Indeed, neither myself or any of the commuters I spoke to after remembered the guard whistling to signal the trains departure.

    The end result was that many people missed their connection to London at a very heavy time penalty and a potentially dangerous and surely illegal train departure.

    I find it hard to believe that the driver of the Virgin train was not aware of the London Midland train pulling along-side him and must also have known about the many commuters who would be attempting to transfer to his train. In addition, the absence of the guard suggests this was known and deliberately ignored, perhaps due to a rivalry with London Midland train company.

    Having missed my stop I had no choice but to re-board the London Midland train on which I was informed by the guard that the reason we were delayed in the first palce was due to a Virgin train holding them up earlier in their journey, He stated he believed it to be the 18.35 Piccadilly to Euston service.

    In all, as all commuters who wished to make this change had paid extra for the improved speed of the Virgin service but missed their change and were placed in a dangerous situation due to errors, both on Virgins behalf, then I feel a full refund and apology should be a matter of common courtesy.

    In addition, due to the dangerous release where the driver and guard must have been fully aware of passengers attempting to board while they began to move I feel that severe disciplinary action should be taken against the members of staff involved. If an elderly person had fallen onto the track during this move then I'm sure there would have been severe criticism of Virgin in the press and the company should strive to, and be seen to strive to, prevent this scenario from occurring again.

    I await with interest their response to this e-mail,

    Dr Robert Edmondson

  • 3 Relations, Customer responded to Robert Edmondson close 21:35 30 Apr 2012
    Thank you for contacting us.

    This is an automated email acknowledgement confirming receipt of
    your email.

    We will respond again as soon as possible. However we are
    dealing with a high level of correspondence at the moment so
    this may take longer than usual.

    If your enquiry is urgent or you are due to travel in the next
    few days, please contact us on 0845 000 8000 (08:30-18:15
    Mon-Fri, 09:00-16:00 Sat, closed Sundays).

    Regards,

    Customer Relations
    Virgin Trains.

    show quoted sections

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    Thank you

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  • 4 Virgin Trains Customer Relations responded to Robert Edmondson close 15:32 02 May 2012
    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Thank you for your email which we received on 30/04/2012 21:35.
    Your comments have been entered into our case management system
    under reference VT-0120430-1T6 and we will respond to you as
    soon as possible.

    If you are making a claim for compensation or refund in line
    with our Passengers Charter, please reply to this email with the
    information listed below. This will help us to process your
    claim more quickly.

    There is no need to reply if you included this information in
    your original email.

    ·         Your full postal address;

    ·         A scan or photo of your tickets, or:

    ·         If your tickets were not purchased through Virgin
    Trains website or telesales office, some other proof of purchase
    (e.g. a copy of the email confirmation for your booking).

    If it is an urgent matter, however, you may wish to give us a
    call on 0845 000 8000 (Mon-Fri 08:30-18:15, Sat 09:00-16:00,
    closed Sundays, Christmas Day and Boxing Day) quoting the above
    reference. In the meantime, we will do our utmost to reply as
    soon as we can.

    Regards

    Virgin Trains Customer Relations Team

    show quoted sections
  • 5 Virgin Trains Customer Relations responded to Robert Edmondson close 17:48 29 May 2012
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    Virgin Trains

    Customer Relations

    PO Box 713

    Birmingham

    B5 4HH

    Tel: 0845 000 8000

    Fax: 0121 654 7500

    Email: [Virgin Trains problem reporting email]

    Ref: VT-0120430-1T6

    Dear Dr Edmondson,

    Thank you for your email received on 30 April 2012 regarding
    your missed connection with our service at Rugby station. I
    would like to offer my sincere apologies for the delay to our
    response. 

    I am sorry you were unable to board our train because the doors
    had been centrally locked. In the past a number of accidents
    have occurred when passengers have tried to board moving trains.
    The current system is far safer, and very much in the customer's
    interest.

    To ensure our customers' safety the Train Manager follows a
    strict procedure, in conjunction with the platform staff, to
    ensure safe despatch of the train. All doors are locked 30
    seconds before the train leaves. Once signals have been given
    that it is safe to depart, the Train Manager sends an electronic
    signal to the driver.

    From this point the train can only be stopped in an emergency.
    The train will not pull away immediately as the brakes do take
    some seconds to release. I do understand your frustration at
    being unable to board the train, but I hope that you can
    understand why we have this procedure in place.

    I also appreciate your frustration at missing your connection. I
    am sure I would have been as frustrated to find myself in that
    situation. Connections are a challenging issue. For customers,
    the main priority is punctuality. It is rare therefore that we
    will hold a mainline train. A few minutes lost can have a
    significant knock-on effect later on in the journey, and mean a
    disproportionate number of people are delayed.

    We will, however, consider any requests for connections, and
    consider whether it is in the interests of the majority of
    people to hold a train. Where, however, vulnerable people are
    involved, or it is a late night train, we will be as flexible as
    possible, and make whatever arrangements we can to ensure people
    safely get to their destinations.

    I would like to assure you that we try to be as flexible as
    possible; however, the London Midland service was delayed
    sufficiently to mean that you no longer had the minimum
    connection time, which for Rugby station is five minutes.

    I confirm that any compensation you may be entitled for the
    overall delay to your journey would come from London Midland, as
    the operator of the incoming delayed service.

    Thank you for taking the time to contact our office. I hope that
    your experience will not discourage you from using our services
    in the future.

    Yours sincerely

    Sally Poyner

    Customer Relations

    show quoted sections
  • 6 Robert Edmondson commented close 07:21 30 May 2012

    Dear Sally,

    Thank you for your response. It was very interesting. However, I would be grateful if you could clarify the following points:

    a) Was the London Midland train indeed delayed due to a late running Virgin train in the first place?

    b) How was it not in the interest of the passengers to delay the train by what can be no more than 30 seconds to allow passengers to make their connection else face major delays? I myself could have boarded if given only a few extra seconds. The doors literally shut in my face. I am not talking of a delay of even a minute for the train.

    c) Did the Virgin driver know of the late arriving connecting train and realise it would only be a matter of a few seconds delay to allow passengers to board?

    d) The train did indeed depart while passengers were attempting to board which is surely dangerous. I am sure this can be confirmed via CCTV at the station. Can you confirm if Virgin Train's safety checks include ensuring passengers are clear of the train before departure and if these checks were made in this case?

    e) Why were the passengers attempting to board the train not informed in some way of the imminent departure of the train for their own safety? Doors often close automatically and may not be always associated with the train moving.

    As you suggested I will contact London Midland Trains and ask for their views on this matter.

    Kind Regards,

    Robert

  • 7 Paul Hollinghurst commented close 19:38 30 May 2012

    Robert,

    To send a message to Sally you will need to go to her reply at 17:48 on 29th May 2012 and click on 'REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE BY EMAIL' just below the message, and past the text into this. Although you have posted you reply to the campaign it is unlikely that Sally will notice this as it would rely on her periodically rechecking the web page.

    Best regards,

    Paul (FixMyTransport Volunteer)

    anorak
    admin
  • 8 Virgin Trains Customer Relations responded to Robert Edmondson close 17:30 15 Aug 2012
    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Thank you for your email which we received on 15/08/2012 17:25.
    Your comments have been entered into our case management system
    under reference VT-0120815-7D1 and we will respond to you as
    soon as possible.

    We would be grateful if you would provide the information listed
    below by replying to this email. This will help us to process
    your enquiry, or complaint more quickly.

    There is no need to reply if you included this information in
    your original email.

    1) Your full address, in case we need to send you a reply by
    post;

    2) A scan or photo of your tickets, or some other proof of
    purchase for them (e.g. a copy of the email confirmation for
    your booking).

    We aim to reply to all emails within 20 working days. If it is
    an urgent matter you may wish to give us a call on 0845 000 8000
    (Mon-Fri 08:30-18:15, Sat 09:00-16:00, closed Sundays, Christmas
    Day and Boxing Day) quoting the above reference.

    Regards

    Virgin Trains Customer Relations Team

    show quoted sections
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  • started 30 April 2012
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Train route between Lichfield Trent Valley and London Euston operated by Virgin Trains, London Midland
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