London Euston travel centre (and elsewhere)

Philip

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I'm not sure where all that came from but seems slightly like an anti-technology rant to me. It is very easy for the majority of end users is what I mean. They just tap in and out as required, and fare capping is also in place. Costs flash up on barriers. All you need is a functional bank-card.

Much easier than ensuring you've got the right ticket on you for the specific train you need and is valid at the time and route you are taking which occurs of much of the rail network. Of course some people don't have bank cards/accounts but these are very low numbers generally & you can still get an Oyster and top-up using cash.

Many passengers struggle with tickets on their phone, including needing to ask at the ticket office about how to access the tickets on the website or app; not understanding the ticket info and any restrictions; travelling with low phone battery; not knowing how to change the time of travel on advances to give a few examples. The majority come to the ticket office for assistance, which is ironic and suggests the easier option is to buy the tickets there in the first place!
 
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6Gman

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When I started as a conductor there was no such thing as mobile ticketing. It is strange to look back and remember those times! No "I just need to open my emails", "how do I work my app?" "It won't let me buy a ticket" (when the train has already left and they're panicking to complete the transaction they've left open just in case they see an inspector).
I've often wondered, how much time do you guys spend waiting for people to download their tickets on their phones?

I was on a train a couple of weeks ago. Two young women boarded, Conductor came round and first woman started on the process. Tap, tap, tap . . . tap, tap . . . long pause tap, tap, tap . . . scroll, scroll - you get the picture. Eventually she found an image to show. Wasn't the right image. Conductor patiently explained what she needed to do, and eventually a ticket was revealed.

He turned to the other passenger - AND IT ALL STARTED AGAIN FROM SCRATCH ! :rolleyes:

Does this happen a lot?

(My paper ticket - it was a retired staff box - took half a second)
 

Horizon22

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Many passengers struggle with tickets on their phone, including needing to ask at the ticket office about how to access the tickets on the website or app; not understanding the ticket info and any restrictions; travelling with low phone battery; not knowing how to change the time of travel on advances to give a few examples. The majority come to the ticket office for assistance, which is ironic and suggests the easier option is to buy the tickets there in the first place!

Sure, but neither Oyster or Contactless has anything to do with your phone (if you don't want it to).
 

Djgr

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I've often wondered, how much time do you guys spend waiting for people to download their tickets on their phones?

I was on a train a couple of weeks ago. Two young women boarded, Conductor came round and first woman started on the process. Tap, tap, tap . . . tap, tap . . . long pause tap, tap, tap . . . scroll, scroll - you get the picture. Eventually she found an image to show. Wasn't the right image. Conductor patiently explained what she needed to do, and eventually a ticket was revealed.

He turned to the other passenger - AND IT ALL STARTED AGAIN FROM SCRATCH ! :rolleyes:

Does this happen a lot?

(My paper ticket - it was a retired staff box - took half a second)
I don't think anyone is necessarily saying not buying from a ticket office is a good thing.

What they are saying is that the young don't do this and therefore eventually it will fade away.
 

43066

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Sure, but neither Oyster or Contactless has anything to do with your phone (if you don't want it to).

It’s a little difficult to understand why anyone wouldn’t use these facilities where they are available. These days it’s a tiny, tiny minority of travellers who don’t.

Unfortunately my local ticket office doesn’t help itself, both windows are frequently closed during normal office hours. I’m surprised there isn’t some kind of rota system for having at least one window open throughout the day.
 
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LowLevel

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I've often wondered, how much time do you guys spend waiting for people to download their tickets on their phones?

I was on a train a couple of weeks ago. Two young women boarded, Conductor came round and first woman started on the process. Tap, tap, tap . . . tap, tap . . . long pause tap, tap, tap . . . scroll, scroll - you get the picture. Eventually she found an image to show. Wasn't the right image. Conductor patiently explained what she needed to do, and eventually a ticket was revealed.

He turned to the other passenger - AND IT ALL STARTED AGAIN FROM SCRATCH ! :rolleyes:

Does this happen a lot?

(My paper ticket - it was a retired staff box - took half a second)
It makes the job take twice as long on long distance trains, I think. An honourary mention goes to those trying to download tickets from their email account without a data connection rather than just using the app which doesn't need one... "can you pop back to me in a bit, I've not got any data".

"No tap that that says my tickets, no, not that, not there (whole screen closes down), yes that, no, you've just done the same thing again..." repeat ad infinitum!

Opening a simple PDF document on a smartphone should not be the ordeal that it is :lol:
 

Pigeon

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I'm not sure where all that came from but seems slightly like an anti-technology rant to me. It is very easy for the majority of end users is what I mean. They just tap in and out as required, and fare capping is also in place. Costs flash up on barriers. All you need is a functional bank-card.

And something over a million people don't have one. The contention that "it's very easy" embodies the assumption that obtaining and maintaining an operational bank account is somehow easier than just handing over money in the normal way. It is not valid to assume that that third party functionality is available to everyone, and the "rant" is about the ubiquitousness of the unthinkingly callous attitude that people to whom it is not available are either peasants who don't count or just don't exist at all, and therefore it doesn't matter if you prevent them travelling by train. What brought it on was the discussion about decline of ticket offices entirely in terms of "it's a shame but oh well there we go", so I thought it was as well to raise the point fairly emphatically that ticket offices are vital and their replacement by exclusionary methods not universally available is more than a "shame", it's something that cannot be allowed to happen.
 

43066

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And something over a million people don't have one. The contention that "it's very easy" embodies the assumption that obtaining and maintaining an operational bank account is somehow easier than just handing over money in the normal way. It is not valid to assume that that third party functionality is available to everyone, and the "rant" is about the ubiquitousness of the unthinkingly callous attitude that people to whom it is not available are either peasants who don't count or just don't exist at all, and therefore it doesn't matter if you prevent them travelling by train. What brought it on was the discussion about decline of ticket offices entirely in terms of "it's a shame but oh well there we go", so I thought it was as well to raise the point fairly emphatically that ticket offices are vital and their replacement by exclusionary methods not universally available is more than a "shame", it's something that cannot be allowed to happen.

But the Venn overlap of people who are unable to obtain a bank card and regularly travel by train will be so small that it isn’t cost effective to cater for it. Who really is there these days who can’t get hold of a bank card? I can only really think of homeless people, or perhaps paranoid eccentrics who refuse to use banks and have their life savings stuffed under their mattresses!

I’d also question the statement: “handing over money in the normal way”. For many people it isn’t normal any longer and hasn’t been for years. In fact I’ve made precisely two traditional cash transactions over the last two years. I can remember both of them. I now use contactless for basically everything.
 

bcarmicle

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Speaking of travel centres - are they any different from standard ticket offices? I was in Leeds the other day and noticed that it had both, and wasn't sure if e.g. the travel centre was meant to cater for more advanced journeys?
 

XAM2175

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And something over a million people don't have one. The contention that "it's very easy" embodies the assumption that obtaining and maintaining an operational bank account is somehow easier than just handing over money in the normal way. It is not valid to assume ...
How much of this rant is still relevant if you ignore contactless and just use an unregistered Oyster topped-up with cash?
 

Horizon22

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And something over a million people don't have one. The contention that "it's very easy" embodies the assumption that obtaining and maintaining an operational bank account is somehow easier than just handing over money in the normal way. It is not valid to assume that that third party functionality is available to everyone, and the "rant" is about the ubiquitousness of the unthinkingly callous attitude that people to whom it is not available are either peasants who don't count or just don't exist at all, and therefore it doesn't matter if you prevent them travelling by train. What brought it on was the discussion about decline of ticket offices entirely in terms of "it's a shame but oh well there we go", so I thought it was as well to raise the point fairly emphatically that ticket offices are vital and their replacement by exclusionary methods not universally available is more than a "shame", it's something that cannot be allowed to happen.

As I said upthread, you can still top-up Oyster with cash and Oyster has all of the ease of use I was talking about earlier. Perhaps this is a generational thing - with me being on the younger side - but I've only used cash twice in the last 18 months and only because I had to.

Speaking of travel centres - are they any different from standard ticket offices? I was in Leeds the other day and noticed that it had both, and wasn't sure if e.g. the travel centre was meant to cater for more advanced journeys?

I think the OP is speaking of the specific London TfL travel centres although it is true they do pop in other places for more advanced / complex journeys. Not sure if the one in Worcester Foregate St still exists but I always found that an oddity.
 

CyrusWuff

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Speaking of travel centres - are they any different from standard ticket offices? I was in Leeds the other day and noticed that it had both, and wasn't sure if e.g. the travel centre was meant to cater for more advanced journeys?
The basic theory goes that Ticket Offices handle "Immediate" travel, with Travel Centres doing Railcards, Reservations, etc.

The problem with this is that the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement requires that a minimum of half of the open sales positions offer a full range of products.

So if the Travel Centre's closed and there are three Ticket Office windows open, at least two of them have to sell everything; or if there was only one window open in the Travel Centre and two in the Ticket Office, at least one of the Ticket Office windows would have to sell everything. Good innit?

This, of course, assumes the Travel Centre and Ticket Office are treated as being the same "Point of Sale" for TSA purposes.
 

Philip

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With apologies, my initial response last night was perhaps a little more bad tempered than I intended it to be!

I think they’d be wandering about in the areas with ticket machines rather than the platforms per se. It would be difficult to combine dispatch with ticketing assistance at most locations as dispatch takes up so much time (and of course shouldn’t be interupted), but perhaps that might be considered at quieter locations.

I suppose some platform dispatch roles are vulnerable in the longer term to further rollouts of DOO, but as always very much location specific.

No worries. In terms of the ticket office staff standing outside with a machine ready to sell tickets, surely this would be much less organised and efficient than having staff sat at a desk with a fully accessible ticket issuing system in front of them? Also I suspect passengers would be more comfortable going up to the desk/window to make journey enquiries or buy tickets, rather than approaching someone stood on the concourse with a small machine around their shoulder?
 

Mikey C

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I was surprised at Paddington station last week (my first National Rail journey from there since the pandemic I think) that the number of ticket machines seemed to have been reduced from before. The double bank of machines outside the ticket office, was reduced to a single bank
 

bramling

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But the Venn overlap of people who are unable to obtain a bank card and regularly travel by train will be so small that it isn’t cost effective to cater for it. Who really is there these days who can’t get hold of a bank card? I can only really think of homeless people, or perhaps paranoid eccentrics who refuse to use banks and have their life savings stuffed under their mattresses!

I’d also question the statement: “handing over money in the normal way”. For many people it isn’t normal any longer and hasn’t been for years. In fact I’ve made precisely two traditional cash transactions over the last two years. I can remember both of them. I now use contactless for basically everything.

You can possibly add to that people who do have a bank account, but have no money in it - either because their finances are that tight, or because they can’t manage their money effectively from one pay-day to the next.

I certainly know one of the latter - pays by cash as it’s a lottery whether his card will be accepted.
 

43066

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You can possibly add to that people who do have a bank account, but have no money in it - either because their finances are that tight, or because they can’t manage their money effectively from one pay-day to the next.

I certainly know one of the latter - pays by cash as it’s a lottery whether his card will be accepted.

Although the irony there is that anyone insisting on paying cash for LU fares is liable to find themselves fleeced into paying £5.50 for a single zone 1 journey, versus £2.40 for a contactless/oyster fare! In reality I suspect many people whose finances are that precarious can be found on the bus network, who don’t accept cash. (As I’ve witnessed several times it’s now possible for those who can’t/wont pay bus fares to simply walk onto the bus and ignore the driver, who is no longer allowed to do the classic engine off, paper out routine until they’ve left, due to “duty of care”. Witnessing that makes one feel a bit of a muggins for bothering to tap in, frankly :rolleyes:).

No doubt there are some who are either fearful of using technology like a poster upthread (who hasn’t been back to explain why he can’t use an unregistered prepaid Oyster card), and those who are simply determined to avoid using modern technology, but we are getting into serious cutting-off-nose-to-spite-face Luddism here

One category which the expansion of contactless payments must largely have eliminated is tourists who are in London for a weekend and didn’t want the hassle (real or imagined) of acquiring and loading up an Oyster card, or were unaware of the scheme.

Overall I’m sure there are always going to be marginal cases, but we are talking about tiny numbers. It’s inevitably going to be harder and harder for many businesses to justify the cost of cash handling, which is then inevitably going to passed on to the rest of us/the tax payer.
 

Bikeman78

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The glorious days of only having to deal with "I didn't have time to print my tickets before boarding so I just got on anyway"... a fleeting, happy time.
If someone buys a ticket online, can you print it off for them if they give you the code? I saw a Great Western guard do that recently. Passenger stated that the ticket machine said "go to ticket office" when he typed in his code but the ticket office wasn't open at 5 am.

I always prefer using the ticket office at Martins Heron (when it is open). Especially when I am as usual catching the 0902 train and the new flashy TVM outside won't sell me a Senior Railcard ticket until 0900. I can see the trend but it is still the quickest way.
Barry Doe often mentions that in Rail magazine. E.g. off peak one day travelcard allows travel from 0930, first off peak train departs at 0932. But the machines won't sell it and barriers won't let you through until 0930 so no chance of catching it.

I've often wondered, how much time do you guys spend waiting for people to download their tickets on their phones?

I was on a train a couple of weeks ago. Two young women boarded, Conductor came round and first woman started on the process. Tap, tap, tap . . . tap, tap . . . long pause tap, tap, tap . . . scroll, scroll - you get the picture. Eventually she found an image to show. Wasn't the right image. Conductor patiently explained what she needed to do, and eventually a ticket was revealed.

He turned to the other passenger - AND IT ALL STARTED AGAIN FROM SCRATCH ! :rolleyes:

Does this happen a lot?

(My paper ticket - it was a retired staff box - took half a second)
Whilst I'm generally in favour of contactless ticketing, I agree that mobile tickets are a faff. I see loads of people hopelessly waving their phones at the reader to no avail. Same on busses. It takes longer than chucking a fist full of change into the coin bin. I won't activate my mobile ticket until I can see that I'll definitely be able to board.

But the Venn overlap of people who are unable to obtain a bank card and regularly travel by train will be so small that it isn’t cost effective to cater for it.
At what age do children typically get bank cards these days? I expect that it's a lot younger than was the case 30 years ago.
 
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island

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The underground ticket office closures happened a good few years ago now and it was a TfL idea rather than a TOC idea. Surely if TOCs wanted to copy the underground idea then they would have done so by now?
It was all based around some horrifically biased TfL research asking people leading questions like “would you like to see more staff members in the ticket halls”.

At what age do children typically get bank cards these days? I expect that it's a lot younger than was the case 30 years ago.
Mainstream bank accounts with debit card are available from age 11. Those horrible scam prepaid “accounts” like “go henry“ are offered for even younger kids.
 

Mikey C

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Barry Doe often mentions that in Rail magazine. E.g. off peak one day travelcard allows travel from 0930, first off peak train departs at 0932. But the machines won't sell it and barriers won't let you through until 0930 so no chance of catching it.
I've had a similar issue when you want to use a Network Card, and the machines won't let you buy a ticket before 10am, when your train departs very soon afterwards
 

Bikeman78

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I've had a similar issue when you want to use a Network Card, and the machines won't let you buy a ticket before 10am, when your train departs very soon afterwards
Exactly. How hard would it be to make the machines and the barriers work 10 minutes before the earliest permitted time?
 

riceuten

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There are still, as people mentioned, numerous tickets that you can't get from a ticket machine. For me, it's tickets including PlusBus tickets, apparently not available at our TVMs due to "passenger abuse".

Personally, if I need a ticket, I would rather buy from a ticket machine, if I am able, because I always get stuck behind someone asking 100000 questions at the counter, who then walking away without buying a ticket. Or there's always some moron who turns up at the last minute and wants to barge in the queue to get a ticket.

Or use my smartcard, but presently there seems to be no way to add my Network Railcard to it. The Smartcard has been an absolute godsend for not queuing up and buying tickets, for my sporadic journeys to work. Fares are such that a weekly ticket is not worth it unless I go into London 4 times a week or more. If I could add the Network Railcard to it, that would be great, but the smartcard is also not recognised at the two local terminal stations for our line (Peterborough and Cambridge) so I have to frustratingly have to queue up get a paper ticket for that. I'm not holding my breath for GTR to introduce any of the above.
 

Wychwood93

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Exactly. How hard would it be to make the machines and the barriers work 10 minutes before the earliest permitted time?
A bus driver down my way mentioned that the ticket machine timer for concessionary travel works from 09.26 - or allows concessionary use from then, subject to the views of individual drivers no doubt.
 

David57

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At Stagecoach (at least where I was) the ticket machines were timed to work at 09.25.
 

Pigeon

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How much of the rail network has moved to accepting only contactless payment, whether inside of the London area or not?

It's not the "has" that's the worry, it's the "will". How much of it can be viewed with any confidence in its remaining free to use? (liberty, not money: the option to use it being freely available to all, with no arbitrary requirement to involve some third party service which is not freely available to all). There is already the creeping encroachment of certain fares not being available unless you buy them on the internet, where they are sold in the usual thoughtless-internet-site manner that fails to recognise that "having internet access" and "having a bank account" are not the same thing and the one does not necessarily imply the other.

Certainly the responses on this thread don't inspire any confidence - there's been a good selection of the usual unhelpful and dismissive responses ("people like that aren't worth bothering about", "people like that don't exist", and a touch of "people like that cannot be accommodated because they cause some minute and trivial dimunition in the ability of some rich git who doesn't need it to get even richer"), but no recognition at all that the problem even can exist, let alone that it does. If the attitudes of the people in charge of the rail industry are similarly ignorant, then it would seem I am right to be worried.

It is a very common source of dysfunctionality that systems are designed to match the capabilities of their designers rather than of their users, with the designers assuming that just because they have trivially easy access to some facility or other then it can't possibly be anything other than equally trivial for anyone else. That assumption is practically never true, and it certainly isn't here. Bank accounts are something to which access is explicitly restricted, so there will always be people who don't have it; currently something of the order of a million in the UK, and the number is unlikely to change greatly. The railways are supposed to be public transport, which means all the public, not the public minus the people those in charge can't be arsed to think about.
 

XAM2175

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The railways are supposed to be public transport, which means all the public, not the public minus the people those in charge can't be arsed to think about.

You might be surprised to find that agree with you. Almost entirely. My only real point of contention is that you continually ignore the discussion we're trying to have about current mitigations in favour of complaining about this one version of the future you hold that apparently only contains contactless cards, and I don't have the energy to deal with that at the moment.
 

43066

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How much of it can be viewed with any confidence in its remaining free to use? (liberty, not money: the option to use it being freely available to all, with no arbitrary requirement to involve some third party service which is not freely available to all).

To be clear, you are describing having a bank account here, which I don’t think many people consider an affront to their liberty. You’re perfectly entitled to your opinion, or course, but surely you must recognise this to be an eccentric view, to say the least.

Being required to pay for something other than in cash is hardly an arbitrary requirement, either. Indeed a great many businesses now insist on it (good luck paying a fare on a London bus with cash).


Certainly the responses on this thread don't inspire any confidence - there's been a good selection of the usual unhelpful and dismissive responses ("people like that aren't worth bothering about", "people like that don't exist", and a touch of "people like that cannot be accommodated because they cause some minute and trivial dimunition in the ability of some rich git who doesn't need it to get even richer"), but no recognition at all that the problem even can exist, let alone that it does. If the attitudes of the people in charge of the rail industry are similarly ignorant, then it would seem I am right to be worried.

You seem to have deployed several straw men here. Most people have simply observed that only a tiny minority of people have no access to a bank account, and have questioned whether it’s cost effective for businesses to continue to cater for them. Remember that cost ultimately gets passed on to the farepayer and/or tax payer.


Bank accounts are something to which access is explicitly restricted, so there will always be people who don't have it; currently something of the order of a million in the UK, and the number is unlikely to change greatly. The railways are supposed to be public transport, which means all the public, not the public minus the people those in charge can't be arsed to think about.

Access to “Public transport” is not an inalienable right and it certainly doesn’t mean “all the public”. It means that section of the public who are willing and able to pay the fares.

How many of the million people you claim have no bank account use the railway regularly?
 

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