Lewes Forum thread

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Lewes commuter

On 26 Oct 2010 at 1:52pm Matt Kent wrote:
Some chap from Lewes was recently threatened by Southern to pay a 1000 pound fine for sitting in first class on a packed train up to London (with his 4grand standard class ticket). So he fought Southern and the case was dismissed by magistrates, forcing Southern to pay legal costs. He was however made to pay 55 pounds for having the wrong ticket.
Irrespective on an earlier post about potential spiraling 'Public' Transport costs as private rail firms raise their costs above inflation, the question I beg to ask is, if you pay for your ticket, should you be guaranteed a seat?
On 26 Oct 2010 at 2:08pm Newmania wrote:
I got fined for sitting in a first class seat and highly irritating it was .I cannot help noticing how many people appear to be sitting around doing nothing at that Station in the morning .
The service gets worse and worse and seats on the way home are unheard of.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 2:10pm Another Lewes Commuter wrote:
"the question I beg to ask is, if you pay for your ticket, should you be guaranteed a seat?"

With respect Matt, that's a really stupid question. The number of seats is governed by a number of factors including the length of platforms / length of trains; ultimate track capacity (particularly between Haywards Heath / Three Bridges); lineside power availability, as well as cost. If you set up a law which said a ticket equals a seat, all that would happen is that train operators would be forced to stop selling tickets. Who on earth could accept a job in London, say, only to have to ring up their boss twice a week and say, "Sorry, can't come to work today, there's no seats available"?

I suspect though, that your post is really a pseudo-socialist whine about the iniquity of first class. As far as I'm concerned, if some fool wants to pay loads more for a seat on a train which gets there no quicker, let them. In effect, they're subsidising my standard class fare. Clearly, no-one would buy a first class ticket if they ended up with other people sitting next to them, and the railway companies wouldn't offer first class if it wasn't profitable. What's the problem?
On 26 Oct 2010 at 2:44pm Realist wrote:
Having been a First Capital Connect customer for many years I can state that Southern are fantastic in comparison. Lewes is a beautiful station. And no, I don't work for the railway companies.
I can see the argument for and against First class usage during peak times. Companies should put it in their First class ticket smallprint that they may have to put up with us plebs at extremely busy times.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 2:51pm Another Lewes Commuter wrote:
Realist - I'm pretty sure that's already the case. If there are exceptionally busy trains because of cancellations or whatever, the guard can declassify first class and the first class users can, I think, claim money back.
And you're right - work colleagues of mine commute on FCC, South East, South West and Great Western, and they all sound worse than Southern.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 3:08pm jrsussex wrote:
My query for some years has been that in practically all areas relating to members of the public gathering in a designated area/place, there is, for reasons of safety, legislation/regulation in regard to limiting the numbers that are allowed within that area/place: public houses, nightclubs, stadia, bus/coach etc.
Why are trains companies allowed to pack as many passengers as is possible into their trains? In the case of a serious accident it must surely greatly increase the level of fatalities and serious injuries.
In answer to ALC, I do not believe "should you be guaranteed a seat" to be a stupid question. It is a question to be answered, deserving a sensible answer from the operators. My worst case was a £128.00 ticket to Manchester with my wife and I having to stand all the way. I have not used the train service to go north since that day, I go by car which is not really how I would like to do the journey but genuinely am unwilling to pay for a service such as that.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 3:15pm teaboy wrote:
Surely the only point of buying a first class ticket is to guarantee yourself a seat ahead of standard class passengers. If this was not the case during busy times (when seats are at a premium) then what's the point of First Class at all?
Personally I'd like to see an end to First Class, as it clearly isn't being used. If it was, there wouldn't be space in there and the conversation wouldn't be happening.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 3:40pm Lewes Lawyer wrote:
Rare occasion on a full train with my infant son. Standard was absolutely heaving and 1st class empty. The conductor said no one is in 1st class go and take a seat in there mate. Being suitably cynical I confirmed I only had a standard ticket and he said "don't worry about that". Good on him for beinga decent bloke.
Admittedly it was not a commuter train
On 26 Oct 2010 at 4:04pm Red Ken wrote:
The train companies answer to overcrowding is to put the fares up. That means less customers but with no decrease in income. It is much easier and cheaper for the train companies to raise fares than laying on more trains/carriages/staff.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 4:06pm Newmania wrote:
I cannot imagine that one of those petulant little twerps was being helpful. they hadprobably already de -designated 1st class which they often do
On 26 Oct 2010 at 4:25pm Another Lewes Commuter wrote:
OK, JRSussex - how do you propose that a system in which train companies were obliged to offer you a seat for a ticket would work in reality?

Red Ken: if you'd read anything about the line optimisation studies carried out by Network Rail, you would know that all peak hour trains are the maximum length, and that the Brighton line is at full capacity. They can't simply 'lay on more trains/carriages/staff'. One of the answers is to re-open the Lewes-Uckfield link, but you can't blame the train operators for any lack of action on that one; it's not in their remit.

Newmania - the guards carry out a tedious job with whinging, occasionally violent passengers, under job instructions they can't do much about. Yet you see fit to describe them as 'petulant little twerps'. How gracious of you.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 4:36pm Clifford wrote:
Another Lewes Commuter writes ' if you'd read anything about the line optimisation studies carried out by Network Rail, you would know that all peak hour trains are the maximum length'

Did i imagine it when Southern cut the peak hour train to London from 12 to 8 coaches? And when I find 4 coach trains running on Saturdays when people are flocking to London for a bit of shopping and sightseeing?
On 26 Oct 2010 at 4:45pm Another Lewes Commuter wrote:
Clifford. Which peak hour train are you referring to? You might well be right about off-peak / Saturday trains, but that wasn't what I was talking about.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 5:12pm jrsussex wrote:
ALC - You are beginning to sound as if you have a connection with a rail company, particularly in your comment to Newmania. Not that that in itself makes any difference as you would still have the right to your opinion but if you are an employee or have some other connection you should state that. My biased view of the licensed trade is entirely due to my having been involved for many years but I admit to that.
Back to the rail service. How would I propose a system should work? I do not know, I am not a rail operator but the rail companies are and they are the ones who should be capable of operating a system they gives value for money. I do not know of any other area today where people can simply be crowded into limited space, it appears to me that the rail companies do it, and it is legal, which flies in the face of many other industries that face substantial fines (and possibly imprisonment) if they overcrowd their customers/patrons.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 5:17pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
A ticket collector once refused to let us pay for tickets back form Glynde (we'd walked over) on the grounds that he couldn't bear to charge us £1.80 each for travelling one stop, whioch I thought jolly decent of him.
I can't see how it would be feasible to guarantee a seat, tbh. Supposing more people got that particular train from Lewes one morning, would you stop them getting on at Plumpton on the grounds that it was full?
On 26 Oct 2010 at 5:27pm Dav wrote:
I regularly get a the Ashford train from Brighton to Lewes at around 6pm and it is always packed, always has many people standing and always only 2 carriages.

On 26 Oct 2010 at 5:27pm stan wrote:
Be great if you could get a partial refund or a standing ticket. This may become technically possible in the future.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 5:39pm Another Lewes Commuter wrote:
JRS - I don't have anything to do with any train operators. As to my comment to Newmania, I get annoyed by people who criticise others doing jobs they wouldn't dream of doing themselves. My experience (daily) of train and station staff is that, on the whole, they do a decent but thankless job and are themselves as frustrated as any passengers when trains don't arrive on time. I get the train every day and I wouldn't do it if I didn't think the service was pretty reasonable on the whole.
I'm struck by the fact that most of the complainants on here don't appear to be daily commuters. As to your comment: if you make a complaint about the way a system works, but admit that you are wholly unable to think of an alternative way in which it might work better, I'd regard that as foolish. You might just as well say something like, "There should be no congestion on the roads" and then not be able to come up with a solution. Nobody is obliged to get on a crowded train and I often see people decide to get off and wait for the next one. But any sort of legislation to prevent train overcrowding would create infinitely more misery than it would solve.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 5:47pm Clifford wrote:
I've got no complaints about train staff. It's the companies that run the trains that are the problem.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 7:47pm jrsussex wrote:
OK, so how it works in your world is that if a set of traffic lights are causing long traffic hold-ups people cannot complain if they are not capable of being able to set the correct sequence for the lights. Or a man paying a bricklayer to do a job, and the workmanship is very poor, cannot complain because he cannot lay bricks. I can see the point you are attempting to make but you need a far better example than saying "If you can't do it yourself you have no right to complain or comment"
On 26 Oct 2010 at 8:07pm Another Lewes Commuter wrote:
JRS - You've just defeated your own point! You understand that, when there's a problem with traffic lights, it might be possible to change the sequence. You also understand that poor workmanship is below the standard of better workmanship. Fine.

But I made a very clear point about exactly what would happen if a ticket guaranteed a seat - train operators would have no choice but to stop people from travelling. And you've admitted that you cannot envisage a solution. Please explain your answer - what do you think would happen.

On another thread, Queequeg made a valid point about the way the country is being destroyed by excessive bureaucracy. You agreed with that, but you think it would be OK to bring in another ton of legislation to guarantee train customers a seat. What is that about??
On 26 Oct 2010 at 8:47pm Matt Kent wrote:
@ ALC.
Firstly, its not really a 'pseudo socialist' rant, I honestly believe its to do with forever changing customers expectations and quality of service, and many people commute from Lewes to London simply because their profession dictates that. A seat over long distance commute would be useful, but never guaranteed. You don't expect to stand on a plane, you expect a seat.
Secondly, the decision by the train operating company (TOC) to run a service dictates the train capacity, the line dictates the service capacity. More trains, more seats. Its all depends however if the TOC wants to spend more money on trains to keep the passenger happy, or make enough of an operating profit to keep its shareholders happy. Will they always dip their hand in their pocket? It usually depends on what they have agreed with the government when they tender for the franchise.
The TOC also has to pay Network Rail to use the infrastructure, through fare revenue for essential maintenance.
Thirdly, the government (however green they claim to be) should also have a transport policy which dictates their financial commitment to infrastructure projects (Road / Rail / Air / Sea). Taking rail as an example, these scale of projects are planned over many decades (1980's Channel Tunnel / 1990's Jubilee Line Extension / 2000's High Speed One / 2010's Crossrail /2020's BML2? or Bakerloo Line Extension?)
And at some stage the Brighton Main Line will be at capacity (2020, see BML2 website) and there will be a need to invest in more infrastructure, or there will be no service, let alone any seats. Should passengers pay for it directly, or should the state pay for it? I think a mixture of the both in my opinion, but predominantly from Central Government.
Lastly, Why have governments past and present spent billions of pounds on rail links? To enhance the economy, both directly through construction jobs and indirectly through travel to work, or study to generate more work and maintain a self sustaining economy, improve opportunity, whilst reducing the dependency of the car.
On 26 Oct 2010 at 11:56pm jrsussex wrote:
ALC - "You've admitted you cannot envisage a solution". Not what I said at all. I said I would not know how to operate a rail system, that is the task of those who operate train services, not those who have different skills.
As for "Another ton of legislation", have not got a clue how you have managed to attribute that comment to me.
The fact remains that commuter trains are overcrowded, unhealthy and very expensive, in my opinion:-).
On 27 Oct 2010 at 10:12am sashimi wrote:
I am more or less with Matt on this. It's all a question of degree. We don't want passengers travelling on the roof or standing on the buffers. But train companies plan on a certain level of overcrowding as part of their financial model. If they had to guarantee a seat to commuters, prices would have to rise and the system would reach saturation even sooner. Airlines too plan on overbooking because they know a percentage of passengers will be no shows. And, yes. I've been on a plane with passengers standing in the aisle on an internal flight in Nigeria.
On 27 Oct 2010 at 12:07pm out of my box wrote:
Sooner or later they will have to do one of the following :
Make longer trains involving extending some platforms.
Bring in double decker trains as seen abroad with all the engineering and track lowering that will entail.
Put in more lines by demolishing houses etc.
Strange how the demand for commuters is still so strong with all the technology available to work from home? Hasn't quite lived up to the dream.
On 27 Oct 2010 at 1:18pm Another Lewes Commuter wrote:
Matt - I don't disagree with any of what you are saying about the need for the government to be involved in proper transport capacity planning, and funding where appropriate.
However, you initially suggested that a ticket should guarantee a seat. I said that was stupid and could not possibly work in reality, without making the commuting experience far worse, and you have not addressed that. Your airline analogy shows exactly why it wouldn't work - passengers stranded overnight in airports when something goes wrong. This is a lousy system, but it is tolerated because people generally only take a couple of flights a year. But if it happened on your commute to work every day??
So I'll ask you the question: if a ticket guaranteed a seat, what would happen when more people than there were seats turned up? How would the system actually work in practice?
I would love for more money to go into rail funding but how much? And who pays for it?
For what it's worth, to solve problems in Sussex, what is needed is:
- Reopen Lewes - Uckfield as I said.
- Provide a completely separate means of getting from Gatwick to London, and take Gatwick Express off the line.
- Add two tracks between Haywards Heath and Three Bridges.
All yours for 25-30bn, at a guess. When last I looked, those nasty TOC shareholders weren't quite making that much.
On 27 Oct 2010 at 1:50pm Mystic Mog wrote:
FYI the BML2 (Brighton Main Line 2) mentioned earlier does not directly include Lewes and is not the same as reopening the Lewes - Uckfield line.
As for Newmania he / she seems eminently suitable as train guard, given his childish description. However my experience of train guards has been on the whole they are polite and helpful.
Clearly privatisation has been a mistake since we are paying for the rail company's profits. There is very little competition. I do not have a choice of rail operator from Lewes. It is a pointless as some of the other privatisations that offer no real choice (utilities). As someone who goes to Wembley 3 times a week at peak times, I drive rather than paying £43.50 versus 15.
On 27 Oct 2010 at 3:14pm out of my box wrote:
Can't really see the Uckfield line reopening somehow. That really is a pipe dream! Make a nice bike path though if they put a footbridge over the ouse.
On 28 Oct 2010 at 10:08am pedantic gal wrote:
Companies = plural
Company's = possessive
No rocket scientists here then!
On 28 Oct 2010 at 11:12am werner von braun wrote:
vee know vee are not dee best spellers frau pedantic.Ve are vely good at making things though. Maybe you should get back to the readers digest.
On 28 Oct 2010 at 1:19pm Mystic Mog wrote:
Sorry it should have been companies' = plural + possessive.
It is their profit, therefore possessive. There is is more than one rail operator, therefore plural.
However besides my grammar and spellling, pedantic gal, I assume that you agree with me.

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