As readers of the blog will be aware, objectors to the ticket barriers at Newcastle station were unfortunately not able to persuade the city's planning committee of the merits of their argument last year. Ernest Dobson, in the Newcastle Journal, now reports back on the immense benefits being enjoyed by passengers as a consequence of the new gates:
"There are three rows of gates. I use the station several times a week and I have yet to see all of them operational. I understand this is because there are insufficient staff.When not in use, the gates are blocked off using unsightly galvanised barriers, thus negating any arguments about sensitive design.At 5pm on January 21 only one set of barriers was in use and this caused long queues. One man, thying to hold onto his bags while navigating the barriers, dropped a bottle of red wine which smashed all over the floor."
He goes on:
"On only one occasion have I ever seen anyone collecting unpaid or excess fares at the barriers. Passengers are let through by staff without paying because there is no-one to issue tickets."
"One of the most damning features of the operation is the routine opening of the gates after 9pm because there are not enough staff. What trust can we now put in the argument that barriers will reduce anti-social behaviour when they are left open at times when such behaviour is most likely to occur?"
"What was once a vibrant and welcoming place, blessed by stunning architecture, is now a hurdle that has to be overcome to get on a train."
Ernest also reports that he was told that he couldn't take photographs of the barriers because it was "private property" although he could take pictures of trains!
So, despite all the promises, we see the same old problems - constant manual intervention, barriers being left open (often much earlier than 9pm at Norwich!), inconvenience to passengers, an officious obsession with "security", constantly malfunctioning barriers and a total lack of consideration for the passenger.