Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Talking Together: Station Travel Plan

Last night the Council's Connecting with Communities Team held its latest consultation event in the Dolphin Centre, open to all residents to attend. This time the topic under discussion was the Council's need to produce a travel plan to provide sustainable access to Bank Top Station.

Research shows that fewer people walk to Darlington station than in other towns taking part in this national scheme, while most people are dropped off by car. The aim of the scheme is to reduce the reliance on the car as a mode of transport.

Representatives from Arriva, the bus company, and National Express, who run the station, were on the panel, together with Cllr Lyonette and two officers from DBC. I guess there were about 50 to 60 residents present, including 5 councillors.

Some useful suggestions were made, particularly in relation to bus access, where one suggestion was for a shuttle bus to operate between town centre bus stops and the station.

Interestingly, there was much criticism of National Express for their decision to install barriers to keep everyone without a ticket off the platform. This is something I blogged about recently. Subsequently there has been a story in the Echo about a mother who was upset at being unable to say goodbye to her son, who was off to Afghanistan, on the platform.

Cllr Veronica Copeland (not a lady whose appearance would suggest she was about to freeload a ride to London) complained at being unable to help an elderly relative on to the train with her luggage due to the refusal of the NE employee to let her on to the platform. A commuter to Newcastle said that delays caused by the barrier had made her miss her train and that the crush to get off the platform through the barriers in the evening was potentially dangerous.

The National Express representative was unrepentant and just waffled on about income streams. Yet these are legitimate concerns and I feel NE are being obstinate in their refusal to take on board travellers' views on the matter.


Anonymous said...

mike i appreciate that as a local councillor you have to defend the little person, but this tirade against national express' decision to install barriers on THEIR stations is starting to sound a tad blinkered to say the least.
How would you feel if, for example, every time more than three teenagers came into your shop the stock levels went down without the takings going up? (it's called shoplifting or in even plainer terms.. stealing)
Basically all that NE are doing is to re-introduce barriers which used to be standard on all stations throughout the land.
as for the person complaining about missing their train, how much time had that person allowed? Had they been delayed because of a broken down car on the approach to the station would the owner of that car then be to blame?
I feel that this is fast becoming a blame culture, where, all too often, we look to pass the blame for life onto any-one else and simply refuse to accept any responsibility for our own actions.
I personally believe that if I am travelling by train, then it is up to me to make sure that I am at the station in ample time to catch that train, THAT IS MY OWN RESPONSIBILITY, not any-one elses and if I miss the train, it is my own fault!

Judith said...

One of my most moving moments last year was watching a couple wave goodbye to their son from the platform as he set off on a gap year in Africa; they were in tears and so was I by the time the train rolled out of the station. How the authorites can have clamped down to deny bystanders like myself of the pleasures of people-watching is beyond me.