Friday, 5 December 2008

No ticket? You're not coming through here!

Temporary part time barriers at Darlington Railway Station, designed to prevent ticket fraud by ensuring that travellers accessing the platforms have a valid ticket to travel, are to be made permanent in the New Year. This is to be introduced right the way down the East Coast Main Line.

This means that only people intending to board the train will be allowed on the platform. No more touching scenes of tearful goodbyes or cheerful hellos, as young lovers part or meet. No more helping your old gran with her luggage onto the train back home. No more frantic waving to your friends on board as the train pulls in.

When I was a kid you could buy a platform ticket for a few pence to gain access to the platform. Then for many years it was a free-for-all. Now the heavy hand of bureaucracy has spoken and these scenes, so much a part of everyone's memories, as well as countless film scripts, will be no more.

As "Simon" from National Express "Customer Relations" says, "People will no longer be allowed on the platform without a ticket. This is going to be implemented on every station up and down the East Coast line. We do not have any plans to issue a platform ticket in the foreseeable future."

I think this is a real shame: they're taking half the fun and romance out of travelling by train.


Aeres said...

It's not something that concerns me much personally, but if I ran the WHSmith or the shop opposite I'd be having plenty to say about it alright - probably in the courts.

Paul Leake said...

And the toilets are on the wrong side of the barrier, which doesn't help if you are waiting for someone and their train is delayed.

disgusted of darlo said...

although you are right about the toilets being on the "wrong" side of the barrier .. just a minor point here .. has anyone actually considered the fact that the railway stations are in fact private property and the public enter under what is known as "implied rights of access" i.e. if you have business with the railways then you are allowed to enter the property.
business with the railways includes travel, ticket enquiries and the purchase of tickets.
technically this means that those persons cutting through the underpass from victoria road and then going out either parkgate or neasham road (and vice versa obviously) are in fact TRESSPASSERS and could be prosecuted!!
in response to the comment by aeres ..w.h.smith and the shop opposite have no legal arguments in the courts or elsewhere because this has always been the case.
if anyone does not understand the reasons then simply consider this... every ticket/fare dodger is costing the law abiding rail traveller because the rail companis have to allow for this theft in their fares just as shops have to allow for "shrinkage" i.e. shoplifting in their prices. how much longer do we expect the honest members of society to subsidise those who simply choose to blag a free ride?

Aeres said...

Ah, fair enough...

I guess the station must be owned by Network Rail then? If so, I guess I might be trying to negotiate a rebate on the shop rental price rather than raising any legal objection - I stand corrected. :-)

The point that I was trying to (rather ham-fistedly) make is that these shops must be experiencing a turnover decline well into double digits due to no fault of their own. I've no objection at all with the train companies trying to protect their revenue at all (God knows, the prices are high enough anyway) but hope that they can do it in a slightly less intrusive way than blocking off facilities to non-travellers and having a huge queue leading to a man drawing a pen line across the used tickets - albeit that they have no legal compulsion to do so.

disgusted of darlo said...

true enough, network rail do own the stations, but in reality nothing has changed, i.e. the stations have always been private property and not a public thoroughfare, hence no rent reduction will be possible. Tenants on the railway station network are in fact well aware of this fact when they sign their tenancy agreements.
On the matter of the facilities not being available to non-travellers, or, as they may also be known, non customers, the station is under pressure to provide facilities for rail customers and compromise won't always be popular with every-one.
for example the disabled always had 20 minutes free parking, but then had to pay for parking beyond that time; now the disabled park for free in the allocated spaces providing they display the blue badges.
Whilst this may simply seem to be "only right" or "about time too" just remember that there are no legal obligations to provide free parking to anyone on private property.
The station manager has just provided new facilities for motor cyclists to park on the station and is continuing to try to improve facilities, come on now, give the guy a chance, he isn't superman, if he can provide toilet facilities for people outside the barriers, then I believe he will try to do that, if not, then he will just have to settle for providing as many good quality facilities as he can for his customers (the TRAVELLING public).
If the borough council were to provide toilet facilities in the town cente after 6p.m. then this would not be as much of an issue as it seems it has the potential to be. Over the last 20 years the council in darlington have closed numerous facilities all over the town, 'inconveniencing' numerous groups of people, not just those who attend the rail station to either drop off or collect others.

ian said...

My eldest is at Uni in York and travels by rail every weekend from Darlington.
I take on her portering duties (carry her case) and every time have simply asked for a platform ticket and seen her safely onto the train. The staff have always been friendly and helpful and I have honestly never had a problem with them. This may be different when automatic barriers are introduced.

I understand that the mother of a soldier was denied the opportunity to see him off, which must be wrong, but as long as common sense prevails it really is no big deal.

Anonymous said...

National Express' policy here is absolutely heavy handed. Why can't they check the tickets on the train effectively any more?

Anonymous said...

National Express' policy here is absolutely heavy handed. Why can't they check the tickets on the train effectively any more?

Bring back GNER! At least they didn't behave like the Stazi.

David Gillon said...

I just travelled through Darlington yesterday and, no longer living locally, was surprised to find the barriers in place as they hadn't been there the last time I travelled. Living in the South East I'm quite used to barriers on my local station and at the mainline London stations. The problem I have with Darlington's installation is that I'm disabled and walk with crutches, making me substantially wider than the passage through the barriers. Normally this isn't a problem, at other stations there's a well-signposted wider-width gate for disabled passengers or those with bulky luggage and the platform staff know to open the gate if they see a disabled person coming. I couldn't see any sign of that at Darlington and the staff, while polite, couldn't seem to understand my issue with the situation. I presume there is wider access somewhere, but where it is I still don't know. I can shuffle through the gate sideways if I have to, and that's what I ended up doing, but that's essentially humiliating me for my disability and not an option available to many disabled people. I shouldn't have to request special treatment due to my disability, staff should know to 1) provide it automatically and 2) direct me to it.

If National Express feel they need the barriers in place then I suppose that's their right, even if I don't see it as an improvement; but speaking as a disabled person I have to say that ther current installation is either inaccessible, badly signed or both and that their staff training on disability awareness doesn't make the grade.