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Unread 01-03-2017, 09:34   #1
Jamie2k9
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The company’s corporate communication spokesman, Barry Kenny, declined to say which stations were being earmarked but it is understood about 37 are being examined countrywide.

Mr Kenny said it was hoped to deploy staff from stations to customer service on trains.

“With the availability of online booking, ticket vending machines for all customer — taxsaver commuter tickets, Leap Cards for example — customers are changing the way they engage with us,” he said, adding that 83% of all train tickets were now acquired through ticket vending machines, online booking, Leapcards, and Epurse products.

“Customers will still want and require customer service assistance, particularly onboard longer-distance services where many trains are currently driver-only,” he said.

Mr Kenny said staff redeployed from stations will be able to provide improved assistance for mobility-impaired customers, ensure seat reservations are observed, deal with onboard anti-social behaviour, and provide information during service disruptions, which would include arranging connections and transfers.

He hoped a new onboard service would be launched this summer but was unable to give a timeframe in relation to unmanned stations.
http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland...ns-444114.html
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Unread 01-03-2017, 13:13   #2
James Howard
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I'm loath to agree with Barry Kenny on anything, but this is actually a pretty positive development. A staff-member is lot more use to the travelling public providing customer service on board two Sligo train runs than they are sitting in a ticket office in Edgeworthstown for 7 hours and I say this as somebody who uses Edgeworthstown - I would much rather see the staff on the train.
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Unread 01-03-2017, 13:24   #3
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From the Rail Census, the four stations called out have usage of 166 (Charleville), 61 (Banteer), 151 (Millstreet) and 104 (Rathmore).

In contrast, in the Cork/Kerry area Midleton and Little Island are unmanned with 926 and 725 daily passengers respectively.

Manning has to be based on passenger need rather than what was in place historically.

And on those figures, Banteer is lucky to have a station at all.
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Unread 02-03-2017, 06:34   #4
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Mind you on a revenue basis, Millstreet probably matches Midleton !

There are down sides to demanning stations but a visible, active, presence on the trains is certainly more valuable than an underutilised member of staff at a quiet station.
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Unread 02-03-2017, 16:21   #5
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Why cant we have both?

Loath to say, but there are plenty of people who dont have access to the online booking system.

Also the on-line system isnt really responsive to the actual as opposed to the imagined demand on a train, you can get a better discount at 23.59 the day before a service than at 00.01 the day of that service, even though nobody may have booked.

Ditto - say someone for some reason does not have online access, its a pity the ticket terminals at stations do not offer the same discounts as online. If they did so, and were able to accurately monitor ticket sales for the train you are booking, it would be better. Perhaps this upgrade will allow it.

The nature of the inter-city travel is one where there is always a healthy walk up portion of demand. What if someone who needs assistance turns up at the unmanned station (say with luggage as well?)

This was all flagged years ago when the 22k's came in and also when the ticket booths came in. Besides, how many staff will be able to move onto train services? How will it work for someone, say, in Thurles to work the Limerick/Dublin service? Will they have to drive to Limerick to start and finish the day? They'll want an allowance for that. Since they aren't being made redundant (straight away) you cant really see the costs savings in the short term, but you can see the trend in where the company is going.
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Unread 02-03-2017, 19:22   #6
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Why cant we have both?
Cost?

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Also the on-line system isnt really responsive to the actual as opposed to the imagined demand on a train, you can get a better discount at 23.59 the day before a service than at 00.01 the day of that service, even though nobody may have booked.

Ditto - say someone for some reason does not have online access, its a pity the ticket terminals at stations do not offer the same discounts as online. If they did so, and were able to accurately monitor ticket sales for the train you are booking, it would be better. Perhaps this upgrade will allow it.
You can purchase by phone or online.

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The nature of the inter-city travel is one where there is always a healthy walk up portion of demand. What if someone who needs assistance turns up at the unmanned station (say with luggage as well?)
I would hope that un manning stations will get the level of investment required such as PIS, Emergancy and Information Point. The WRC and Oranmore are just some of un manned rural stations with them.

Walk up is largely for local routing, if you checked a train load and strip out annual, online, pass, weekly/monthly etc I don't think there would be major numbers left.

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This was all flagged years ago when the 22k's came in and also when the ticket booths came in. Besides, how many staff will be able to move onto train services? How will it work for someone, say, in Thurles to work the Limerick/Dublin service? Will they have to drive to Limerick to start and finish the day? They'll want an allowance for that. Since they aren't being made redundant (straight away) you cant really see the costs savings in the short term, but you can see the trend in where the company is going.
Personally I don't think they need to travel the full line/service, I can't see why boarding at for example Thurles would be a problem. The RPU lads are are mobile on services so why would this be any different.
_____

The key thing here is staff actually doing the job they are asked to, that doesn't mean walking through train once and hide away in the cab for the rest of the journey.

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Unread 03-03-2017, 08:23   #7
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The person on the train should be in a position to provide assistance to people who need it at stations if they aren't hiding in the cab.

As for walk-up tickets - this would have to apply only to stations that have ticket machines which should sort that problem out. A large portion of the people who would have difficulties with ticket machines would be on free-travel passes anyway. In terms of pricing, why should a ticket machine be any different to buying from a person - I wouldn't expect to get an on-line discount for using a ticket machine. It's a walk-up ticket just the same.

It might be worth either manning stations or allowing on-board ticket purchases on Saturday mornings when there would tend to be a lot more walk-up business.

To me it's a no-brainer when resources are limited to move staff from stations to trains. Hopefully, Irish Rail's customers spend more time on trains than in stations, so it makes perfect sense to ensure that there is somebody there to provide assistance on trains. In an ideal world, we could go back to the 1940s when rural stations had a stationmaster, a ticket-clerk and two porters and every intercity train had a driver, a stoker, a cook, a barman, a steward, a guard and a ticket checker but personally, I can't afford 100 euro return tickets from Edgeworthstown to Dublin.
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Unread 03-03-2017, 10:53   #8
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A large portion of the people who would have difficulties with ticket machines would be on free-travel passes anyway.
Don't those with free travel still have to get a ticket, even if they don't pay for it?

Mind you, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a way around that issue e.g. putting tag on/tag off polls in every station in the country.
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Unread 04-03-2017, 07:00   #9
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You probably only need and handful of people buying €70- €80 walk up fares to cover the marginal expense of covering 1 or 2 shifts at a station. Not everyone is motivated by cheap advance tickets. Ticket vending machines and on-line sales are limited to selling the most common point to point tickets.

It might be difficult to move staff from stations to on board trains - if they were recruited to look after a station, it might be considered a demotion to work, to what I think is being described as a guard. (I have no idea which job might be considered better). To avoid this, employment contracts would have to be sufficiently flexible at outset.

I used to live in the West Yorkshire region where there could be many relatively small unmanned stations. The guard could sell tickets to those boarding at unmanned stations (and I recollect that they would receive 5% of tickets sales made). I can't imagine the system has changed. Guards can provide customer assistance, an extra element of safety, and allow stations to remain open that wouldn't be viable if they had staff.

On the other hand, the ongoing Southern rail dispute in the UK would appear to be about removing guards altogether from 8-12 carriage trains carrying hundreds of passengers and having one sole individual in charge of the whole train. There, I guess stations are busy enough to be manned, and trains far too big for one person to be also checking tickets. I remember guards on many of the London underground lines in the past - I think they've all gone now, and these trains would also carry hundreds of passengers each at peak times.

So different areas need different solutions.

Last edited by Eddie : 04-03-2017 at 07:14.
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Unread 04-03-2017, 15:17   #10
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You probably only need and handful of people buying €70- €80 walk up fares to cover the marginal expense of covering 1 or 2 shifts at a station. Not everyone is motivated by cheap advance tickets. Ticket vending machines and on-line sales are limited to selling the most common point to point tickets.
It may only take a few however just breaking eveni is not acceptable when you have the cost of running the train and a whole lot of others. A lot of UK stations that we view as quiet likely handle more than our lightly used station.

TMV are limited but that can be changed and online sales are a massive part of IE's revenue now and it will continue to grow.

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It might be difficult to move staff from stations to on board trains - if they were recruited to look after a station, it might be considered a demotion to work, to what I think is being described as a guard. (I have no idea which job might be considered better). To avoid this, employment contracts would have to be sufficiently flexible at outset.
I'm sure IE are aware and if they are not i'm sure some union members will point it out.

In the case of Kerry stations they will only travel on the Mallow-Tralee shuttle, so realistically I can't see major problems with it provided for example as said above staff are not required to incur additional expenses.

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Don't those with free travel still have to get a ticket, even if they don't pay for it?

Mind you, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a way around that issue e.g. putting tag on/tag off polls in every station in the country.
They do but won't have any action taken if unable to obtain one at a station with no ticket office.

Last edited by Jamie2k9 : 05-03-2017 at 08:03.
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Unread 08-03-2017, 15:48   #11
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if the on board train staff are ticket vendors then i suppose many of the problems of unstaffed stations can be neutralised, but you are still left with those who need assistance boarding/alighting.

there are many people who do not have the ability to book tickets on line or to use a TVM, they may not have a debit/credit card, they may not have internet access, they may have a difficulty like dyslexia or mobility issues.

as an organisation we represent all those people as well, so it is a valid issue for us to not just accept this as inevitable progress.

There is also the fact that our rail network is a "public" transport. If Irish Rail does not have the resources to staff trains and stations properly the the issue must go back to the minister. The minister, as it stands, is the sole shareholder in Irish Rail and therefore no matter now much he protests otherwise, he calls the shots. Officially he is there to represent you and me as passangers and in a secondary function the citizens as a whole.

I haven't checked but as sole shareholder I would imagine the AGM's of Irish Rail must be lonely events which are literally held around the boardroom table in Heuston Station. If Irish Rail say that they are working their staff to the limit then the only solution is to hire more staff which means raising the subvention, and there is only one person who can do this.....
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Unread 09-03-2017, 07:51   #12
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Lets assume that resources are limited and that in the present climate the minister is unlikely to be forthcoming with more money. In this case, is it not better that Irish Rail use what resources they have to properly staff trains rather than stations? If anything the reduction in fare evasion might end up allowing them to staff both. Leaving trains unstaffed has always seemed a very bizarre policy to me.

Surely the on-board staff can provide boarding assistance and in the rare case where they can't it would probably be more cost-effective for Irish Rail to fund the odd taxi from the nearest major station than pay somebody to sit in a booking office all day selling 20 or 30 tickets. In the real world, all people with mobility difficulties travelling to remote rural stations will have people collecting them anyway who will be able to help out.

TVMs take cash for the 0.1% of the travelling public who has neither access to a debit card, nor a free travel pass.
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Unread 09-03-2017, 10:30   #13
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I'm loath to agree with Barry Kenny on anything, but this is actually a pretty positive development. A staff-member is lot more use to the travelling public providing customer service on board two Sligo train runs than they are sitting in a ticket office in Edgeworthstown for 7 hours and I say this as somebody who uses Edgeworthstown - I would much rather see the staff on the train.

Eh... there's nobody in the Edgeworthstown ticket office for most of the day. It opens about ten minutes before a train arrives.
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Unread 09-03-2017, 17:59   #14
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Eh... there's nobody in the Edgeworthstown ticket office for most of the day. It opens about ten minutes before a train arrives.
Unless the staff member lives next to the station it's just not true, ticket offices can close but station still be staffed. According to IE website (could be out of date) but:

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06:00hrs-21:00hrs Mon-Wed
06:00hrs-15:00hrs Thur-Fri
08:30hrs-17:36hrs Sat
09:00hrs-21:00hrs Sun
Quote:
if the on board train staff are ticket vendors then i suppose many of the problems of unstaffed stations can be neutralised, but you are still left with those who need assistance boarding/alighting.

there are many people who do not have the ability to book tickets on line or to use a TVM, they may not have a debit/credit card, they may not have internet access, they may have a difficulty like dyslexia or mobility issues.

as an organisation we represent all those people as well, so it is a valid issue for us to not just accept this as inevitable progress.
Represent all however ticket accessing is really splitting hairs here, no phone/internet, pass, annual ticket, debit/credit/cash. I mean we could be talking one or two in a thousand here. Staff should be able to supply tickets on board however it should not be a service that eliminates the current requirement to have a ticket to board if TMV is available. They would be in charge of getting people on/off who need help just like drivers today at unnamed stations.

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eaving trains unstaffed has always seemed a very bizarre policy to me.
Not really, now that doesn't mean I support it but there was major waste for to many years. There just isn't a need for every train to be staff on the network. There are a lot of trains today that operate with more than just the driver.

On Waterford services you have some form of interaction with staff on a lot of services, there is 3/4 staff who operate on various services (usually one of peak morning/evening) and corresponding middle of day service and also two RPU staff who generally swap services en route. Cork are staffed with separate RPU and there is always a few staff staff who do Tralee/Limerick/Galway from time to time.

What the network needs is some staff and a proper transport police division who in most cases could deal with 90% of problems driver only trains cause.

The 45-60 minute wait for guards (not anyone's fault based on current set) is the core issue here and why to an extent, there is reluctance to get them unless it's really necessary.

I do get the impression the staffing could be a rather seasonal thing, a little like those customer service staff they took on last summer for assisting in stations such as Heuston.

Last edited by Jamie2k9 : 09-03-2017 at 18:03.
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Unread 13-03-2017, 10:43   #15
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Unless the staff member lives next to the station it's just not true, ticket offices can close but station still be staffed. According to IE website (could be out of date) but:
.

No idea where the staff live but there is nobody around and the office is locked except for 10-15 minutes before a train arrival. It's actually the schedule you posted that's just not true (imagine something like that from IE).
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Unread 13-03-2017, 15:16   #16
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Represent all however ticket accessing is really splitting hairs here, no phone/internet, pass, annual ticket, debit/credit/cash. I mean we could be talking one or two in a thousand here. Staff should be able to supply tickets on board however it should not be a service that eliminates the current requirement to have a ticket to board if TMV is available. They would be in charge of getting people on/off who need help just like drivers today at unnamed stations.


just rang templemore and thurles. the majority still use the booking office, not the machines. I can ring around more stations if you want.

here is an example - two neighbours of mine, in their 50's, went to templemore last week to get the 6.30 train. they couldnt use the TVM because the floodlights in the carpark glared out the screen. lucky the ticket office was open, otherwise they'd be getting a nice fine at Heuston as there was nobody selling tickets on the train.
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Unread 13-03-2017, 16:54   #17
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You'll always find anecdotal evidence to support any viewpoint. Most people will chose the familiar if the option is available. If they were offered a tenner off the ticket for using the TVM, you'd probably find they would deal with the glare issue. You should also consider who answered your phone call about TVM use. The guy selling the tickets is hardly motivated to tell you that his job is done just as well by the machine.

The whole point of this discussion is about moving staff from stations onto trains. So if this change was made, there would be somebody on the train selling tickets - so no problem.

Anyway, to repeat my question Is it not better that Irish Rail use what resources they have to properly staff trains rather than stations?
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Unread 13-03-2017, 18:12   #18
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No idea where the staff live but there is nobody around and the office is locked except for 10-15 minutes before a train arrival. It's actually the schedule you posted that's just not true (imagine something like that from IE).
Fair enough but I'm sure the person is somewhere else, it's not unusual for ticket office to be closed until 10-15 minutes before a train and station still be staffed.

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just rang templemore and thurles. the majority still use the booking office, not the machines. I can ring around more stations if you want.

here is an example - two neighbours of mine, in their 50's, went to templemore last week to get the 6.30 train. they couldnt use the TVM because the floodlights in the carpark glared out the screen. lucky the ticket office was open, otherwise they'd be getting a nice fine at Heuston as there was nobody selling tickets on the train.
Give the station staff a weeks holiday, display clear notice for pass holders explaining they can board, TMV with cross route purchases possible and then take the stats on those who cannot purchase a ticket. Numbers should be very low if not zero.

I from time to time use the ticket office still. The Templemore problem should be raised with IE if it hasn't. Had they boarded without a ticket because of the issue it should of been easy to appeal in the event of a fine.

I'm sure there could be a case made to continue to have stations staffed for the morning peak if really needed. Chances are most small stations employee 2-3 staff (no idea) so they surly is some flexibility around moving some to trains at times and keeping some in stations at times.

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Most people will chose the familiar if the option is available.
Totally agree with this.
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Unread 14-03-2017, 09:10   #19
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Fair enough but I'm sure the person is somewhere else, it's not unusual for ticket office to be closed until 10-15 minutes before a train and station still be staffed.
.
Wherever they are is inaccessible to the public. Perhaps they have a lot of paperwork to do.
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Unread 15-03-2017, 11:26   #20
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You'll always find anecdotal evidence to support any viewpoint. Most people will chose the familiar if the option is available. If they were offered a tenner off the ticket for using the TVM, you'd probably find they would deal with the glare issue. You should also consider who answered your phone call about TVM use. The guy selling the tickets is hardly motivated to tell you that his job is done just as well by the machine.

The whole point of this discussion is about moving staff from stations onto trains. So if this change was made, there would be somebody on the train selling tickets - so no problem.

Anyway, to repeat my question Is it not better that Irish Rail use what resources they have to properly staff trains rather than stations?
as i said earlier in the thread, if the staff are going onto the trains with a ticket machine in their hand then happy days. If they will be also helping someone get on and off at a stop for whatever reason, even better.

if not, then no, they are better off in the stations.

the TVM issue is separate, it was posted that because of TVM's the need for station staff is greatly reduced, but that is not necessarily the case, as a quick phone around showed.

If you believe that the staff would lie about this, then I'm sure that when all this comes to the dreaded union/staff negotiations IE will have to produce actual TVM/Over the counter transaction figures.

Besides, as I said before, why not have both? We are not talking massive amounts of staff here. Whilst I post in a personal capacity on the forum it is RUI policy that staff should be on site as much as possible, if for no other reason than your personal wellbeing/security and onsite means on trains and stations.

At the end of the day IR say that they have implemented many practice changes with a view to getting the best value for money they can, but at the end of the day there is a limit.
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