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Hi,

 

I'm pretty shaken up by what's just happened today when Arriva trains Wales refused me and my 2 children (aged 10 and 12) the return journey which we'd started this morning. The conductor refused to let us stay on the train, apparently because of my surfboard. We ended up having to catch a taxi from Borth to Newtown.

 

At 10am this morning I checked with the conductor on the platform that we could buy the tickets on the train, he directed me to where I could place my surfboard and bought a day-return ticket to Borth to catch some waves. En route, he explained that we would need to change carriage in Machynlleth where the train divides and to carry my board along the platform. At no point did he mention that there might be any restrictions on surfboards and as this was the first time I'd taken it on a train and had previously seen others with boards on trains I had no reason to think there might be a problem.

 

At 13:43 we boarded the return train in Borth (not overly full) and as I was placing my board in the cycle area where there was plenty of room (just one bike there), the conductor approached me and said: 'We don't take surfboards'. I tried to explain that I had bought a return ticket with my surfboard that morning with no mention of Arriva not taking surfboards but he was immovable even when my 10 year old, visibly distressed, asked: 'How are we going to get home?' 'We don't take surfboards' was all he said, no apology nor willingness to discuss further.

 

Short of dumping my board, we had no option but to get off. I phoned Arriva customer service whose only suggestion was that I should wait 2 hours for the next train and 'explain' to the conductor what had happened. Considering that was what we'd just done, I rang for a taxi instead having told Arriva that I would be billing them for it. The Customer service crew told me that they had no way of contacting the on-board staff for the later train to intervene on our behalf and that they would not pay for a taxi for us to get home.

 

I've now looked at the Arriva website and it says there may be restrictions on 'surfboards... that cannot be carried without assistance'. I can easily carry my board and had another bag in my other hand. Even if they do have restrictions surely by selling me, my kids and my surfboard a ticket this morning on behalf of Arriva which I bought in good faith, that's a contract and I could reasonably expect to be able to return. The fact that I was left stranded with children by a (second) conductor who clearly didn't give a fig is pretty shocking.

 

Any assistance most appreciated, thanks.

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Disgraceful. When you raise this with Arriva they will eventually try to get you accept vouchers as a gesture of goodwill. I suggest that you refuse and insist on money.

 

Write a detailed statement of everything that has happened. Calculate your losses - taxi fare, and extra time spent dealing with it all.

 

Describe the effect which it had on you and your children.

 

Try to do all of this in a fair amount of detail because it will become the basis of your claim.

 

Call Arriva and get the email address for their customer services department. Do not discuss it with them on the phone unless you are recording the call. Do everything in writing.

 

Send them by email the account of everything that happened and tell them that you want a settlement of, say, £300 cash or you will sue in the County Court. Do not make this threat unless you are prepared to go ahead. However, it is very easy and you will very likely win on a breach of contract.

 

here is some info on bringing a small claim - http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?394131-Small-Claims-actions-in-the-County-Court-FAQ-work-in-progress

 

We will help you draft the POC - but read around so that you understand the steps.

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It is not acceptable, or permitted to carry surf boards on a train as per the National Rail Conditions of Carriage.

 

49. Restrictions

 

Any Train Company may (notwithstanding the terms set out in Conditions 46 to 48 and

Appendix B) refuse to accept an item of luggage, an article, an animal or a cycle if, in the

opinion of its staff:

(a) it may cause injury, inconvenience or a nuisance or it may cause damage to

property;

(b) there is not enough room for it;

© the loading or unloading may cause delay to trains; or

(d) it is not carried or packaged in a suitable manner.

 

Any Train Company’s staff may refuse to accept an item of luggage, an article, an animal

or a cycle even if it has been conveyed by train in the past. This Condition applies from the

start of your journey and also if you need to change trains. Other terms, conditions and

restrictions are set out in Appendix B.

 

This Byelaw (12) also applies:

 

(2) An authorised person may, in an emergency or in other circumstances in

which he believes he should act in the interests of safety, issue instructions to

any person on the railway. No person shall, without good cause, disobey such

instructions.

 

I struggle to believe that a reasonable person would think it acceptable to carry a surf board on to an infrequent 2 carriage train.

 

So the end result will be nothing IMO. They are well within the legal and contractual rights to refuse the item.

 

Quite correctly, safety should prevail over customer service. Surfboards are not carried, along with other items exceeding very specific dimensions as they:

 

1) Take up a lot of room

2) Could impede evacuation

3) If they became insecure, could damage the train or a passenger.

 

Even it surfboards were permitted, a charge would have been payable as it would have exceeded the free baggage allowance, (50% of the full fare for the journey, to a maximum of £10 per item, per journey leg).

Edited by firstclassx
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There may have been a better basis for what you say had the board not been permitted on the train for the outward journey. However, it was permitted and I think that it was an implied term that it would be carried for the homeward journey. It would defy common-sense if this was not the case.

Additionally we have heard that the board was completely portable and that there was lots of space on the train.

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It is not acceptable, or permitted to carry surf boards on a train as per the National Rail Conditions of Carriage.

 

 

 

This Byelaw (12) also applies:

 

 

 

I struggle to believe that a reasonable person would think it acceptable to carry a surf board on to an infrequent 2 carriage train.

 

So the end result will be nothing IMO. They are well within the legal and contractual rights to refuse the item.

 

Quite correctly, safety should prevail over customer service. Surfboards are not carried, along with other items exceeding very specific dimensions as they:

 

1) Take up a lot of room

2) Could impede evacuation

3) If they became insecure, could damage the train or a passenger.

 

Even it surfboards were permitted, a charge would have been payable as it would have exceeded the free baggage allowance, (50% of the full fare for the journey, to a maximum of £10 per item, per journey leg).

 

You seem the sort of person that would follow the rules no matter what, however when dealing with people one should always apply common sense otherwise there would be confrontations all over the place..

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You seem the sort of person that would follow the rules no matter what, however when dealing with people one should always apply common sense otherwise there would be confrontations all over the place..

 

When it comes to safety on the railway, omitting or failing to maintain a safe environment can result in custodial sentences, so yes, I will prevent items or people being carried on a train/station if I believe there is risk involved.

 

You cannot rely on common sense in court - black and white on paper is what matters.

 

This isn't a customer service issue really - the conductor on the return followed the rules laid down, (set/managed by the Department for Transport and Office for Rail Regulation) and which he is explicitly prohibited from using any discretion. The Managing Director, Chief Executive etc cannot even change the rules.

 

59. Limitation of authority of a Train Company’s staff or agents

A Train Company’s staff or agents have no authority to waive or change these

Conditions.

 

The actual issue is the conductor on the outward journey allowing it to be conveyed. The journey should never have taken place. That said, the passenger agrees to the contract (NRCoC) when they use the ticket, and that contract prevents any surfboards, or items measuring larger than specific dimensions from being conveyed upon a railway. It also states that an item carried previously may not be carried at any point in the future.

Edited by firstclassx
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Thanks for the helpful comments and suggestions.

 

The first conductor had ample opportunity to warn me that my surfboard might reasonably be a problem before we boarded the train. That he didn't bat an eyelid and even told me where to put the board, led me (an infrequent train passenger) to have good reason to think that there were no restrictions on the service. I had a vehicle nearby and would instead have driven if I had thought there was even a chance we might be refused passage back.

 

And even had I checked beforehand the rules on the National Rail Enquiries website with specific reference to surfboards are ambiguous enough that I might reasonably have concluded that it was OK to carry a surfboard onto a train so long as I didn't need help carrying it.

'Articles and Animals not carried

 

 

  • Articles exceeding one metre in any dimension that cannot be carried by the passenger concerned. This includes canoes, hang-gliders, sail/surf
    boards, large furniture and any large musical instrument that cannot be carried without assistance.'

Whether or not it was the 'fault' of the first conductor, for the second conductor to be so rule-bound that he would abandon children in such a way in such a location with poor transport infrastructure and without checking that we had money, phone or any means of accessing an alternative means of transport is reprehensible. Notably he didn't say that we were causing an obstruction, he didn't say that we needed to pay an excess fee, he didn't acknowledge the fact that we had bought a return ticket 4 hours previously and he offered no apology simply a thrice-repeated mantra that surfboards aren't allowed.

 

I will be lodging a claim.

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The surf board couldnt have been that big if it fit into a taxi! And as the OP said she put it in the cycle space that wasn't full, so it wasnt causing a hazard, just another jobs worth who didnt have any customer care skills! I would contact arriva by letter and request a refund of all money that you had to spend getting home!

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Before you start considering legal action, get a full complaint direct to the CEO, and see what he/she says. Don't be emotional, and dont ramble on. Stick to concrete facts, and not guesswork.

Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

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Whatever next ? asking a fat person to pay for an extra ticket as part of their behind takes up part of the next seat ?

 

That has been implemented by some airlines, and I suspect will reach the railways as obesity becomes an increasing problem.

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It appears to me that there is no definate ban on surfboards, the rules allow the company to not allow certain objects this makes sense to me, after all most companies allow bikes and id suggest they are bigger than a surfboard. The op clearly did seek advice before travelling and was told it was ok id suggest the company is then estopped from changing its mind later on in the way it appears to have done this is compounded by the fact that it is very unfair to ask people to leave their journey half way.

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The surf board couldnt have been that big if it fit into a taxi! And as the OP said she put it in the cycle space that wasn't full, so it wasnt causing a hazard, just another jobs worth who didnt have any customer care skills! I would contact arriva by letter and request a refund of all money that you had to spend getting home!

 

+ 1 to this! Sorry but I think the person selling the ticket(s) in the first place plays a part in this as well. Unless he/she didn't spot the surf board of course. Otherwise by selling the ticket, surely the are agreeing to convey the surfboard?

 

Having said the above, you would surprised what some people attempt to bring onto a public service vehicle (speaking in my bus driver capacity). Some obviously think they are delivery vans as well!

Please Note

 

The advice I offer will be based on the information given by the person needing it. All my advice is based on my experiences and knowledge gained in working in the motor and passenger transport industries in various capacities. Although my advice will always be sincere, it should be used as guidence only.

 

I would always urge to seek face to face professional advice for clarification prior to taking any action.

 

Please click my reputation 'star' button at the bottom of my profile window on the left if you found my advice useful.

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Surfboards have never been carried by the railways, the only exception is FGW who charge £5.00 but only on certain routes, i think the person who is at fault here is the Conductor on the outward journey who allowed the OP to board the train giving incorrect advice and passing conflict onto one of their colleagues. I think that maybe the guard on the return journey could have allowed the OP to return if there was room available but this highlights the issue of all staff not singing from the same hymn sheet and the one who does what they're meant to be doing looks the bad guy!

Views expressed in this forum by me are my own personal opinion and you take it on face value! I make any comments to the best of my knowledge but you take my advice at your own risk.

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Firstly, RPI & firstclassx are absolutely correct, there is a specific safety critical rule in respect of train operating staff and their responsibilities. There is also a nationally advertised Condition in the National Rail Conditions of Carriage that covers the dispute and that document goes on to say (Condition 59) that no member of staff or any other person has any authority to waive or amend these conditions.

 

Having got the rules out of the way, I also have to say that any independent arbiter is likely to ask the complainant 'Did you ask if you could take your surfboards?', after all these are not small insignificant items of hand-luggage. If the answer is 'No' then that independent arbiter must consider there is at least an element of 'contributory negligence' involved.

 

In my opinion, a letter to the Head of Customer Services at [email protected] should be the first step. You may find that they say that they believe the conductor acted in accordance with the rules, but they may possibly uphold your appeal. Under the rules they do not have to.

 

In a purely personal capacity, I believe that IF it was clear to the ticket seller that you had a surfboard in your hand at the time you bought a ticket for the next train s/he should have said 'You may have difficulty if you intend to take that on the train with you, as they can be refused'

 

If you DID ask if it was OK to take a surfboard and you were specifically told that it was Ok, then the ticket seller may be held to account, but if you did not, how would anyone know that you intended to travel with surfboard/s?

 

If you remain unhappy after ATW Customer Relations have replied, then you could write to:

 

The Managing Director (Ian Bullock) at

Arriva Trains Wales,

47 Penarth Road,

Cardiff CF10 5DJ,

 

but if you choose that route first, do not be surprised if you are referred back to the Customer Relations department, which is where any complaint should go in the first instance.

Edited by Old-CodJA
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I do not agree people who say this was against the rules.

 

Let's analyse the rules of carriage posted above a bit more closely. The rules say that train companies may refuse to take certain items of luggage. But they are only entitled to do exercise this discretion if one of four conditions are met. Those conditions are that the item may, in the opinion of staff, (a) cause injury, inconvenience or a nuisance or it may cause damage to property; (b) there is not enough room for it; © the loading or unloading may cause delay to trains; or (d) it is not carried or packaged in a suitable manner.

 

It does not seem to me that any of the four conditions are met. No objection was raised on safety grounds and I do not see how there are any safety issues here at all. The conductor simply referred to a general "no surfboard policy" ... if the company wants to have this policy it must be made clear before you buy a ticket.

 

In my view this is disgusting conduct by the train company. I hope Arriva will quickly apologise and grant you a refund and reimburse you for the taxi fares. If not I hope you will not hesitate to sue them in County Court.

Edited by steampowered

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Not unless reservations are compulsory for travel

 

They already are in the case of some advanced reduced fare ticket types I'm afraid.

 

 

I do not agree people who say this was against the rules.

 

Let's analyse the rules of carriage posted above a bit more closely. The rules say that train companies may refuse to take certain items of luggage. But they are only entitled to do exercise this discretion if one of four conditions are met. Those conditions are that the item may, in the opinion of staff, (a) cause injury, inconvenience or a nuisance or it may cause damage to property; (b) there is not enough room for it; © the loading or unloading may cause delay to trains; or (d) it is not carried or packaged in a suitable manner.

 

It does not seem to me that any of the four conditions are met. No objection was raised on safety grounds and I do not see how there are any safety issues here at all. The conductor simply referred to a general "no surfboard policy" ... if the company wants to have this policy it must be made clear before you buy a ticket.

 

In my view this is disgusting conduct by the train company. I hope Arriva will quickly apologise and grant you a refund and reimburse you for the taxi fares. If not I hope you will not hesitate to sue them in County Court.

 

 

I agree that this is not a good PR exercise and I would hope that a little common sense will prevail however, we were not there and therefore cannot be certain what the conductor considered the risk was and therefore cannot be certain why he applied his discretion to refuse the item under the rules. As always we can only comment on a one sided report of the incident, which I'm not saying is wrong, but we were not a party to the whole conversation.

 

A company 'policy' as you put it is not up for debate here, this is a National Conditions of Carriage document, applicable to all Rail travel and all companies. A copy of this document is available free of charge at every rail station ticket office, on the internet and at for view your local library, so the 'rule' that the conductor has applied has long since been publicised.

 

A complaint to the Customer Relations department should be made and I am certain this can be easily resolved.

Edited by Old-CodJA
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A company 'policy' as you put it is not up for debate here, this is a National Conditions of Carriage document, applicable to all Rail travel and all companies. A copy of this document is available free of charge at every rail station ticket office, on the internet and at for view your local library, so the 'rule' that the conductor has applied has long since been publicised.

 

A complaint to the Customer Relations department should be made and I am certain this can be easily resolved.

 

It seems my post has led to some confusion. I agree there is no question that the national conditions of carriage applies. However, the NCC is limited. It does not the train company a free ticket to prevent people from taking stuff on trains whenever the conductor feels like it. The NCC only permits the train company to refuse to carry an article if staff form the opinion that the item falls within one of the four conditions cited above.

 

The only relevant condition in the NCC is that the item may cause injury, inconvenience, nuisance or damage to property. But in this case there was no suggestion that the surfboard might fall within these conditions. He simply said "no surfboards" without explanation. But the NCC does not entitle the train company to refuse all surfboards, only if the surfboard falls within one of the four conditions.

 

Admittedly there are two sides to every story ... taking the Op's post at face value I am really struggling to see how the train company can legally justify itself. Hopefully a complaint will resolve the issue.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Speaking as an ex employee of Arriva buses I would say reject any free tickets etc and go via the legal channels. They as a company are complete gutless turds and won't want to be facing court.

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1.) What size is your board and did it fit neatly and safely in the cycle area without any risk of obstruction?

2.) Was it clear to the person you purchased your ticket from that you had the board with you?

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