Saturday, October 20, 2007

You can't sit down, not even if you pay me

My eyes and ears at Reading station (actually she's a whole person, but it would take too long to list every part) has complained to me of a worrying case of jobsworthiness, as follows:
She quite often pays on the train on the way home from Paddington for a first class upgrade, as when it's very busy, she feels it's worth the £13 extra just to have a nice sit down after a hard day. However, two days ago she asked the train manager if she could upgrade and he said no. She asked why, and he said she couldn't upgrade her ticket on the train, and should have done it beforehand.
However, how did she know whether or not she was going to get a seat until she got onto the train? And surely, anyone who's prepared to pay a few pounds to go and sit in a half-empty carriage and help ease the congestion in standard class should be welcomed?
My friend then questioned the train manager, saying she often upgraded her ticket on the train. His response was that the people who were upgrading her weren't doing their jobs properly, as it wasn't allowed.
Livid, my friend found that her only possible revenge was to stand defiantly in the first class carriage all the way back to Reading, and then ring me and complain about it.
Surely this train manager was wrong? Please can I have some guidance on this, as it seems unbelievable that on-train upgrades aren't allowed, when seats are quite clearly available.


Anonymous said...

What kind of ticket did she have. If it a season ticket then I am afraid that the train manager is right. In the National Conditions of Carriage it explicitly says that standard class season ticket holder sitting in first class will be charged a full single ticket for their journey. I believe you have a copy as you referred to it earlier in your blog.

Anonymous said...

The TM was right (on train upgrades are only permitted at the weekend when "weekend first" is offered), but at the same time he was being unreasonable. It is one thing to take a hard line with fare dodgers but to do the same with customers who are wanting to give you more money is just stupid and any sensible company would see it as commercial suicide.


Mamf45 said...

Please can someone explain to me why I pay £3500 per year to travel into London, have no perks for this vast sum, and end up being penalised for wanting to pay extra to sit down? Madness!

Anonymous said...

speaking as a FGW train Manager, I know what we should do, nameky foloww blindly the National Conditions of carriage. However I have always believed in applying a little common sense to my job., and therefore if a standard class passenger chooses to upgrade to first class on board my train I charge them the difference between the standard and first class fare as shown on the Advantix ticket machine and as I see it every one is a winner. The passenger gets what they want, the company gets some more revenue. and I dont get invoved in a pointless arguement that just alienates everybody within earshot. On an average journey out of Paddington after 15.30 I collect about 250 pounds by following my gut reaction , and over a week this more than covers my wage bill, and also far more importantly keeps the customer happy.
As a train manager I am powerless to prevent the delays at Reading, the delays at Airport Junction and the lack of sufficient seats, as there are no extra carriages available to make our trains longer. So if I can put a smile on a few passengers faces and help them have a more pleasant journey then I will do so.
Incidentally the weekend first upgrade of 10pounds is still available to buy on train, at weekends and public holidays. I have personally sold over 60 of these on one train and an average would be about 30 per train at weekends.

Anonymous said...

The conductor on a train from London last week informed passengers that they would be charged the first class rate if they were standing anywhere in the first class carriage - including the vestibule. I've heard of this happening on another line, but wondered if this was even legal (this after another conductor apologising profusely to first class earlier that week that they wouldn't have an at-seat service as people got on too late and were blocking the carriage). Full rantage at

Anonymous said...

Yes perfectly legal. Dont forget buying a ticket does not give you a seat unless you make a reservation. It therefore follows that first class is the whole area including the vestibule up until the change to standard class in the buffet car. The announcement made would only usually be made when there are seats available in standard class.

I did charge someone a first class ticket once who was standing in first class. He had jumped on at the last minute did not have a ticket and refused to move. Also the station he was going to had a train every 15 minutes so to buy the ticket first would have only been a small delay.

RemiMoses said...

So then, being told by a ticket inspector that 'you can't stand here' in a first class doorway, as that was the new FGW policy, and if I did so again it would be penalty fare time.

This despite there being no seats and around 50 people standing between me and standard class.

If I am depriving a poor first class ticket holder from standing on some nice brown carpet (the only difference) they can have my place. However, given that no-one from first class ever needs to stand, this seems ridiculous.

Anyone else been challenged, and if so, did you find out any more other than the one word 'policy' answer I got. Anyone seen posters, find it on the website etc etc?

I am not about to pay a penalty fare for standing up, and if asked to do so on a full to bursting train, I'll await the summons.

Anonymous said...

As a former (can't afford the 100% premium anymore)first class passenger - i have to say that it was always annoying to have lots of standard class passengers blocking the vestibules, preventing the refreshment trolley from getting through and making me have to contort myself to go to the loo. I would add that contrary to another bloggers comments, there were regular occassions when I had to stand in first class despite the first class ticket, as there were so many FGW managers / railway bods on passes taking up the seats. Because of the number of 'steerage' passengers blocking the aisles, the conductor couldn't get through to throw the blighters out! Now that I'm at the poor end, I couldn't care less (!), but it's worth considering the other point of view as first class is ridiculously expensive and if you pay for it yourself (rather than on the company)you'd be peeved too.

Anonymous said...

I refuse to stand if there are no seats in cattle class. I sit in first and politely ask the conductor to find me a seat in the cheap section. If he cannot I politely tell him that I require safe passage and that the railway has a duty of care towards me. It is very dangerous to be standing on a speeding train and if something should cause the train to stop and I was standing, I would be in a very dangerous situation where I could incur serious injury. Sitting in a seat is a far safer option. (A medical professional explained all this to me)

Anonymous said...

"I refuse to stand if there are no seats in cattle class"

Then don't get on the train! What a numpty.....

Michael said...

Reading this commentary it is obvious that FGW gas its staff policing these boards, knocking down any disdainful passengers quoting rules and regs.

How ridiculous. You can formulate the regulations to suit any situation. The reality is exceptional over-crowding, and a train company that doesnt seem to care, but would rather hide behind all its codes and rules.

Instead of spending time on the internet putting cutomers 'right' and letting them know, that short of a catastrophe, they must not even think about breathing the hallowed air of the First Class- why not try to work out a solution to all of this?

Anonymous said...

What a shame that some of "our" staff seem to have such disdain for "our" fare paying passengers. Most of whom are willing to pay or have already paid for their tickets. Surely common sense should prevail? Some customers are rude, admittedly, but the majority of them just want a seat in the area they paid for, with the service we advertise?

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