Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Press statement from York Environment Forum

York Environment Forum has issued a press statement on the subject of the station ticket barriers:


York Environment Forum has objected to the proposed installation of ticket gates at York Station.The Forum believes that the City Council should consider the scheme in much wider terms than how the gates will look in a Grade 2* Listed Building, important though that is. The gates will
* impede passengers
* present an unwelcoming image to visitors to the City
* frustrate people seeing off and meeting relatives and friends
* remove the opportunity to buy tickets on the train
* reduce revenue at trading facilities on the station
* block a popular pedestrian route and force people onto an unpleasant and longer route
* prevent the planned link between the present City and the critical York Central site, and
* take the station out of the public realm instead of integrating it more closely with the life of the city.

Such ticket fraud as exists can be tackled in more appropriate ways than by gates, whereas all these consequences will reduce the convenience and pleasure of travelling by train at just the time when we need to encourage more people to choose rail.

Whatever its legal status, the station belongs to the people of York. In keeping with the Council's commitments they should be involved in its future. It should not be treated as a private fiefdom by a short-term tenant.

The City is awash with partnerships and strategies. We hope that they will not be proved impotent in the face of a threat to a valued part of the City's economy and life.

The Environment Forum therefore calls on the City Council to launch a wide-ranging debate about the future of the station with its partners and with citizens before proceeding to any decision about the planning application.

The text of the objection lodged with the City Council is attached.

Jonathan Tyler (Chair)

York Environment Forum brings together individuals and representatives of voluntary organisations who are committed to building a sustainable way of life. We focus particularly on the City of York and are members of the partnership that wrote and is responsible for implementing the Sustainable Community Strategy.

You can link to the full objection here

Monday, 29 June 2009

Tales from St Pancras and Waterloo

The new barriers were installed on the domestic platforms at St Pancras station earlier in the month, though according to reports they may presently only be in use at peak times. They are by Cubic, who are also responsible for London Underground gates, rather than Scheidt and Bachmann so may be more robust from a technological point of view, but they are not (yet) enabled to take smartcards.

Anyway, a friendly notice has now appeared on the station: "There was a queue at the ticket office. / I had to run for the train / I thought I could pay on the train / I was late for work.

"No ticket - No excuse. Deliberate fare evasion will not be tolerated. If you have the opportunity to buy your ticket before boarding you need to."

So we now find that people who have previously chosen to pay on the train are conflated with deliberate fare-dodgers. The rail industry now seems obsessed with the idea that every passenger is a potential criminal.

Meanwhile, a story appeared in the Independent by Deborah Orr about the ticket gates at Waterloo:

"The man at the Guildford railway platform seemed like a good sort as well, even if he was not a Samaritan, and advised us to go to platform five and the fast train to London, instead of the slow one we were about to board. Alas, at Waterloo, our tickets wouldn't open the barrier, which mystified and baffled us until an attendant pointed out that our tickets were to Clapham Junction only, and that we'd therefore have to have a word with "the management".

The management insisted that we'd have to get on another train and return to Clapham Junction, which we'd only just passed through without stopping, or pay a fine which they would have to calculate, but would definitely be at least £20. Wouldn't it be more sensible, I asked, just to let us out, than to force us to take up two scarce seats on a rush-hour train for no reason, or to punish us financially because we didn't see the point in this pointless exercise? Apparently not. Forty-five minutes, and five layers of "management" up, a besuited and busy chap called Sam Bourne agreed that since I'd convinced him there was no deliberate attempt at fraud, just £2.40 for the Clapham-Waterloo extension fare would secure release from the station. It took a while, but there was some wisdom to be found among the staff of South-West Trains.

What can I say, more generally, about this odd little day trip, except that it is, to me, just another tiny illustration of how the Pharisee mentality has won, and that rules trump all, including common sense, sympathy, logic, kindness, fellow-feeling and personal initiative. Staying within the rules, however counterintuitive they may be, is the curse of our age and time and place. Just look what it has done to Parliament. It's woeful that a preacher from 2,000 years ago could see the perils of living by intractable rules more clearly than anyone from our leaders to our "customer service attendants" can today."

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Committee date for York barrier plans

It now looks likely that the York barrier plans will go to planning committee on 16th July. Whilst the official deadline for comments is 26th June, it's likely that they can be accepted in practice for some time after that.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

New poll on Sheffield barriers

Sheffield City Council are conducting a poll about East Midlands Trains' proposal to install ticket barriers at Sheffield railway station on their website. You can participate by following this link:


East Midlands Trains have continued their programme of bringing in agency staff to close the footbridge on a rolling basis, though nothing has been reported this week - probably because the staff are otherwise occupied at the newly installed St Pancras barriers.

Residents Against Station Closure, who have been co-ordinating local opposition to the plans, arranged a protest outside the station in late May that was attended by over a hundred people. The rally was addressed by campaigners and representatives of all the main party groups on Sheffield City Council.