Platform Ticket Special
Send your letters to: The Railway Magazine, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 0SU, email: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 ■ The Editor reserves the right to shorten or amend correspondence if required and stresses that publication of a letter does not imply that the writer’s views are necessarily shared by the magazine.
notice outside the barriers, endorsed by the station manager, to the effect that only ticket holders can access platforms and that all platform tickets have been withdrawn! Therefore, the only way is to buy a return ticket to the nearest station, Millbrook, which is absurd. DAVID MEAD, Southern Counties Railway Society
Test case: Chester AFTER being refused permission to go past the barriers at Chester (“You’ll be lucky – if you’re not travelling, there’s no need to go on”), it occurred to me that the plight of railway enthusiasts will not, unfortunately, win the argument for the retention of platform tickets. I can already see newspaper headlines about ‘anoraks’ crying and sulking because they can no longer trainspot. What might persuade the TOCs to re-think is the need to assist the elderly and infirm, plus the revenue aspect. It would only need one case of an elderly person suffering a misfortune because there was no member of family there to assist, and I suspect there would be a case for suing the operator for the distress or injury involved. Perhaps
any campaign you launch should seek donations for costs to defend such an action and prove a precedent? HARRY BARKER, Tarporley, Cheshire
Booked assistants often don’t turn up IT’S all very well train operators telling us to book mobility assistance in advance, but the system just isn’t reliable. My elderly mother-in-law, who is in a wheelchair, travelled from Birmingham New Street to Manchester Piccadilly. Both stations were advised in good time and my wife also travelled with her. She had no problem at Birmingham, where staff assistance was excellent but at Manchester there was no assistance and the staff there claimed no one had told them. It was a good job she wasn’t travelling alone! TERRY BRIDGWATER, Birmingham
Let’s also have an ID card for enthusiasts
I WOULD like to go further and ask your magazine to back the launch of a
national identity card for enthusiasts. ID cards generally are a touchy subject and could be construed as yet another intrusion on our freedoms, yet a specialised one could work in our favour. If it was linked to a railcard and contained a passport size photograph and bar code, it would admit the holder to any station. Obviously there would need to be a fee for this facility and I would suggest £20 on top of the railcard fee of £24. I would also suggest that the card contains British Transport Police contact details to enable card holders to be useful and report incidents such as trespass and vandalism. TONY FAWCETT, email
Cambridge-Ely ticket – just to get on platform! THE Railway Magazine is sometimes difficult to purchase as not all newsagents stock it. W.H. Smith always has lots of copies, but my nearest Smith’s is beyond the barriers at Cambridge. I therefore had to buy a ticket all the way to Ely and back in order to access the shop to buy the magazine . . . and then
found myself reading about the injustice of the lack of platform tickets! I couldn’t help but smile at the irony of it all. While writing, I have also been interested in your recent articles about young people in the hobby. I am a 19-year-old sixth-former and have been a railway enthusiast, both in Canada and England, for as long as I can remember. I can understand the apprehension and I hope that this wonderful hobby will not die. There is such variety in Britain’s railways. We must keep people interested and preserve as much as possible for future generations. Thank you for publishing such an interesting magazine and for defending the rights of enthusiasts. THOMAS BLAMPIED, Cambridge
Falling out of love THE ‘closing’ of stations to all but those prepared to pay the minimum fare is outrageous. It has nothing to do with ‘revenue protection’, it’s just a further erosion of civil liberties. I’m afraid I do not love this country as much as I used to. PETER NICHOLSON, Burnham-on-Sea
British Railways considered turning the A1s out in four different liveries DURING visits of our volunteers from the Brighton Atlantic Project to the plans archive of the NRM, we have unearthed a hitherto unknown gem from Doncaster – a coloured drawing dating from April 1951 showing a proposal to adorn those A1s that were named after old railway companies with the livery of that company. Therefore No. 60147 North Eastern would be in Saxony Green, Great Central in Brunswick & Claret, Great Eastern in Deep Ultramarine and North British in Bronze Green/Brown. Nothing is known of why the proposal was turned down. The attached scan of the original – and now rather grubby – artwork shows that this would have been an attractive feature. No proposal was found for the A1/1 Great Northern, but as that was an odd one out, it was probably best forgotten! MATTHEW COUSINS, Scaynes Hill, West Sussex
A missed connection? RECENT editions of The RM have covered the need to attract and retain young people to ensure our hobby has a future. It has been gratifying to read of steps by individuals and societies that have provided some success. I have noted the ‘Young Ones’ logo in recent issues, with a dad holding his young son’s hand as they set off to explore some unseen place of interest, and it occurred to me that this once commonplace example of domestic inter-action and connection is now rather a rarity. Both generations would nowadays probably feel awkward, if not embarrassed, by the simple pleasure and security of holding hands. Due to peer-pressure, other distractions, etc, it can thus be difficult for values and interests to be translated from older to younger generations. VIC SMITH, Shrewsbury
Time for 4472 to be ‘stuffed & mounted’?
I SEE the NRM has got the begging bowl out again for Flying Scotsman (a quarter of a million pounds this time). Am I alone in thinking that it’s about time this apple green money-pit was stuffed and mounted? It has soaked up money like a sponge and there are lots of preservation projects (such as the Class 15 Appeal and the Class 28 Co-Bo restoration) that, whilst not connected to the NRM, could benefit hugely by a fraction of the sum. I appreciate that, to some, the loco is iconic but preservation should be about more than one engine and the NRM shouldn’t simply be a Flying Scotsman Benevolent Fund. Keep up the good work with The RM. A great read and now the only railway mag worth buying. GARETH HIGGINS, email
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