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Call +442031488521 Send email to railway@ipcmedia.com Look up postcode SE1 0SU
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Platform Ticket Special

Send your letters to: The Railway Magazine, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 0SU, email: railway@ipcmedia.com or fax 020 3148 8521

The creeping spread of platform access denial in many parts of the country has generated a huge mailbag. Below is just a small selection of your letters, the thrust of which will be extremely helpful in our effort to campaign for the retention of platform tickets.

Strong support in favour of platform ticket campaign IN response to your editorial comment in the February issue, I would like to add my strong support to any idea of a campaign to save/ revive the platform ticket. The last 20 or so years of the ‘open station’ concept have, for the most part, made the life of anyone with an interest in railways much easier and it is regrettable that the recent excesses of so-called security issues have negated much of the goodwill created by the idea. Under the open station system, there was always going to be a problem with fare evasion unless the enforcement of on-train revenue protection was stepped up, which on many TOCs it hasn’t. I do not relish the idea of having to go to a ticket offi ce or member of platform staff (assuming I can fi nd one) and asking to be issued with a platform pass. Given the attitude towards enthusiasts displayed by some TOC staff, this would clearly not always be a pleasant task. Also, what about the loss of good public relations for the rail industry when a steam special passes through a station? What will staff do when a couple of dozen mums and dads ask for a pass so that their children can see the steam engine? No doubt refusal will be justifi ed on the grounds that too many people on the platform is a health & safety issue! PATRICK COLLINS, Romsey, Hants

Eroding a popular part of British culture AT a time when the Government is expounding the values of ‘Britishness’, it is bizarre that publicly-funded train operators are eroding a longestablished aspect of British culture. The freedom to bid farewell to relatives and friends as their train pulls away from the platform and greet them as they step from the carriage on arrival is part of our heritage. It is immortalised in all forms of art. In movies, for instance, we all cherish those poignant scenes with Celia Johnson in ‘Brief Encounter’ and, perhaps more so, Jenny Agutter in ‘The Railway Children’. All of us, it seems, except National Express and their ilk. If we must have barriers, then we must have platform tickets. It is all very well for NXEC to claim that

“members of staff would be available to see disabled or elderly people onto trains”. Sorry, but that’s just not good enough. Hand over our loved ones to a uniformed offi cial at a barrier? I don’t think so. DAVID PERCIVAL, Knebworth, Herts

This will end my hobby THANK you for informing your readers of the intention of NXEC to install automatic ticket barriers at some stations on the ECML. This, linked to their policy not to issue platform tickets, will curtail my hobby of enjoying my lifelong interest in all things to do with railways. At Grantham, we have very friendly staff who keep us informed of the progress of steam and diesel charters. This will all end if I and my friends are not allowed to enter the platforms. J.E. WRIGHT, Grantham, Lincs

What reasons do TOCs have for this decision? IT would be helpful if we were to know the TOCs’ collective reasons for many of them no longer issuing the conventional platform ticket. Then maybe we would have the basis for a balanced response. Platform tickets are a tried and tested facility which has served the railways well for almost 100 years. Offi cially, they remain available on all four current ticket offi ce systems (FasTIS, SMART, STAR and Tribute). They work in automatic ticket gates and they avoid all the business of producing and handing out ‘on a whim’ permits/passes etc. STUART JOHNSON Transport Ticket Society

I DO not understand why TOCs are so reluctant to issue platform tickets. Firstly, there is no longer any need for the companies to go to the expense of purchasing and fi tting separate platform ticket machines (as happened in the steam age) because such tickets can continue to be issued from the normal machinery in the ticket offi ce. Secondly, they would have a record of how many tickets had been issued

28 • The Railway Magazine • April 2009

at any time of the day, and therefore how many enthusiasts, or meetersand-greeters, were on the station at any one time. This could be particularly useful to them if too many people were on at once, or in the event of someone overstaying their allotted one hour or whatever. Thirdly, a clause could be printed on the back of the tickets, along with the other terms and conditions, indemnifying the TOC against litigation in the event of a self-infl icted accident occurring to the ticket-holder while on their premises. Last but not least, if the TOCs increased the price of platform tickets from 10p to 50p or even £1, the system could become a nice little earner for them! GEOFF EVES, Plymouth, Devon

Even in the war, we had access to stations AS a boy during the war and in all the years since, I have always been allowed onto platforms, either to watch trains or to see friends and relatives onto their train. Even in the days prior to ‘open stations’, there was never a problem obtaining platform tickets. It is all very well saying there will be staff to assist in helping, but they have enough to do without any extra work. NORMAN DILLEY, Inverness, Scotland

Another nail in coffi n of ‘turn up and go’ IT is about time railway operators realise that they are in receipt of public funds, provide a service to the public and that the public therefore expect to be able to enter a station without being assumed to be some sort of ‘weirdo’ or ‘potential criminal’. I am aware of staff assistance options, but those have to be booked in advance. Why should we have to go to all that trouble when my wife and I can simply walk on and carry her mother’s luggage for her? After all, there are no longer any porters to do such a job. It seems that barriers are yet another way of trying to force rail passengers to book days or weeks ahead. The

LEFT Will this be something a rarity in years to come – a platform ticket issued in 2009. This one is from King’s Langley, Herts. Although most stations should still be able to issue tickets, few do in practice.

‘turn up and go’ type of passenger is an irritant to the ‘bean-counters’. IAN BRADBURY, Stalybridge, Cheshire

Test case: Leicester I RECENTLY had to meet my partner at Leicester station. I had not been there for some time so I arrived early to spend a little time on the platform watching train movements. I noticed that automatic barriers had been fi tted but there was an open section covered by a ticket collector. As I approached him, I was greeted by “Where do you think you’re going?” I explained that I was meeting my partner off the Cambridge train, to which he replied: “Is she a cripple?” I was taken aback by this and asked what he meant by such a comment. His reply was “Unless she is crippled and incapable of carrying her own bags, you cannot go on.” I was totally gobsmacked, but, keeping my cool, I asked what would happen if I wanted to photograph the trains. Where could I get permission? His harsh reply was: “The company does not want those sort of people on its stations.” I can understand security measures but this is getting to the point of madness. Whatever happened to good customer service? J.E. HILL, email

Test case: Lincoln BARRIERS and ‘platform passes’ have been the norm for some time at Lincoln and have often been the cause of bad feeling. However, members of Lincoln Railway Society are admitted through a special arrangement with the station manager on production of their membership card – but even then it depends who’s on the gate. When A4s 60007 and 60019 visited the city a few months ago, I was allowed in with my LRS membership card, but my partner behind me was fi rmly denied access! The resulting impasse was only resolved with the intervention of the station manager himself. The Lincoln Christmas Market railtours regularly attract large number of enthusiasts and, to get around the ban, several opted to spend £1.80 on a day-return to Hykeham. This shows that most of us would be prepared to pay 50p or £1 for a platform ticket, which would increase revenue for the TOC. JIM SPARKS, Market Rasen, Lincs

Test case: Southampton I WAS at Southampton Central the other day to meet a senior citizen off a Cross-Country service but found a