Abellio Scotrail: skipping small stations

TRY THIS FOR A TRAINS ENQUIRY. Now that I have momentum going with telling a range of public bodies, that it already stands witnessed to many of their own kind, that for reason of effective communication with minorities, they can no longer give certain too-familiar bad types of answer. Reference to the contents of Autism Network Scotland‘s Ordinary Life Too book, issued through Strathclyde university linked to our autism strategy, have helped with asserting this.

So to encourage train enquiries written with this introduction, to be made ANYWHERE.

As you can see mentioned, the company presently running Scotrail, Abellio, has been controversially practising cancellations of trains’ stops at smaller stations, which obviously matters for reliability for the folks who use those stations, which in Clyde commuter country are busy. Abellio has just expected them to get a train back the other way, after a train they they are already aboard! announces it will miss their station. But what if you are in trying to make a bus connection in a less busy region? and what if you read timetables literally, not with a gut instinct for local non-observance of them, because you are autistic?!

to Scotrail:

This is an enquiry about cancellability of calls on the Borders line. Particularly in order to make it on behalf of autistic passengers, I first share an important new item about responses to definable needs. The rail enquiry follows it. 2 asterisks to distinguish them easily.

The Autism Network Scotland is based in Strathclyde university and is a body engaged with the national autism strategy and with grassroots of able autistic people, connecting their concerns with the professionals. I was on the compiling team, when through the university it issued the resource document An Ordinary Life Too on the coping concerns needing to be in autism workers’ knowledge. It is one of the publicly linked working materials for the national autism strategy and local autism plans.

The OLT document helps, with its real life evidence, to establish a principle which has arisen in the grassroots engagement with the autism strategy process, and which has been circulated and asserted a lot recently based on that engagement. It follows as a duty in successful and non-exploitative communication with a vulnerable group whose problem is principally with communication. This responsibility includes because they must not be placed in an exploited relationship in terms of adult support and protection. Knowing that an incidence of suicidality also has been associated with autism, from social exclusion suffered from failed communications and from the anxiety commonly accompanying the condition’s communication challenges, the responsibility to practical communicating includes by reason of not giving them any potential trigger causes for those feelings. It follows that this responsibility bars giving any types of answer that are avoidant of meeting the definite defined needs that exist in any enquiry about any vulnerable group.

You see how effective and well arranged it is, that this point is asserted entirely by reference to other people’s suicidalities, folks less able to communicate than is the person writing it. The person writing this point never has to have any suicidality themself, hence the impact of writing it never gets lost in the mental health response there would be to that. It is never wrong to discuss the existence of other people’s suicidalities for the purpose of prevention, but it is always wrong to give them the triggering experiences contrary to prevention. The point establishes that all parties delivering any service, including all public offices and caring agencies, and businesses serving the public, cease to be allowed to give any of the following specified types of answer:

  • Be noncommittal,
  • Use the word “unfortunately” or any synonyms of it,
  • Deny that they should do anything or answer substantively until an indefinitely deferrable eventuality,
  • Ignore, or omit to answer, any of the entire content of the evidence available from the person being answered,
  • Declare unilaterally that any step not reasoningly accepted as upholding personal fairness is “their decision”,
  • Declare unilaterally, even if with formal apology for it, that any of these types of answer, or any answer not standing up to reasoning, is a last word,
  • Make a tough assertion that these are what people will do,
  • Give no answer at all because of being prevented from giving these types of answer,
  • Declare any matter of fairness closed, or unilaterally close down contact, before its entire content has been fairly answered, and at a stage preventing this from being ascertained from logical scrutiny of answers given.

The circulation of this proof that all of the above types of answer have to cease ever to be given to anything, has encompassed: social care departments across councils, the police, autism services, LGBT organisations, and anti-suicide. It is a fact widely done.

So I make my rail enquiry from the angle of working in autism, and that the condition includes reading information literally and following it literally, without having any cultural instinct to guess at certain times not to do that. So this applies to their reading of train timetables.

What shall I tell them about reliability of calls at the smaller stations, for travel planning?

Question arises from experience of the Borders line’s 0625 from Edinburgh on Aug 19. It was only trivially late, couple of minutes: yet it was announced that on grounds of lateness its calls at Brunstane and Newcraighall were cancelled.

I have read in the papers that a practice of cancelling calls on grounds of speed exists at working day peak times on the Clyde branch lines, and is much criticised by commuters. It is a totally new idea to see it happen on the Borders line, and on a Saturday and early morning. Visibly not peak time at all, and this is your major new-build line whose success everyone is watching.

The question is: have you confined call cancelling to trains that have no time-critical connections with infrequent rural transport? Is it possible to suppose that the railway has, and updates, enough knowledge of the Borders’ bus, and any taxibus/flexibus, services, to apply it to decisions on train call cancellations?

I was on that train as a result of care to travel early enough to recover from problems: it was the next one 0651 that I really needed. So could a cancelling of calls happen on the 0651? and could it be decided on too late for passengers who are checking for problems to get the previous train?

The 0651 is the train that connects to a once-daily bus to a remote location, for that is where I was travelling. To Belsay, in Northumberland. The train is the only service from Lothian that makes that connection. This applies 6 days per week. It goes: Perryman’s 68 at 0805 from Galashiels to Jedburgh arr 0855, then once-daily Peter Hogg’s 131 at 0910 from Jedburgh to Belsay, or to many places along the same road.

If that bus is too remote from the railway to be in your awareness, then if you cancel any calls on the 0651, and particularly if you cancel them too late for passengers to get the 0625 instead, then passengers planning to join the 0651 at a cancelled station get deprived of their entire journey.

You see why I have preceded this with a proof that there is no longer the option of the types of answer listed above: to use the cynical concept of “unfortunately”, or assert a power of blunt last-word decision, or be noncommittal. Have you built in, that for the reason of a very infrequent bus connection, call cancellations can not happen on the 0651?

Maurice Frank
21 Aug 2017

[ A good bit from the reply Sep 5, which however did not mention the key issue of connections with infrequent rural bus routes: – ” Whenever a train fails to call at a station, it automatically fails its public performance measure. It is classed as a part cancellation, in the sense it has failed to call at all of its booked stops. As you can imagine, from a performance perspective we never want to incur an automatic public performance measure fail, so we won’t ever remove stops from a train unless our train graph identifies multiple conflicts with other on time trains if we don’t take action. All of our customers have plans and quite rightly expect to arrive on time, which is why we have to try and strike a balance between allowing late trains to impact on other on time services where we don’t intervene, with those where we do intervene to protect the experience of all of the customers travelling on these other on time services. 

As part of the performance improvement plan, we’ve issued fresh guidance to our control centres that will, we believe, lead to a reduction in its use. This guidance will ensure that we develop better customer communications at times when it might be needed so that detailed, earlier information can be given to customers about their journey.  ]

This is Belsay border lookout castle, Northumberland. The later “hall” (grand house) there was built by a family thought (by the guide) to be Asperger affected, it’s exactly 100 feet across, and with such perfectly regular fitting stone bricks that they needed no cement.