Today the Star reports on the recent meeting between Tim Shoveller of East Midlands trains and John Mothersole, the Chief Exec of the Council. See the story here.
East Midlands trains seem to think they are offering "concessions", but they haven't budged an inch on our main objection to installing barriers to the station. They are proposing a system of passes, whereby local residents would still be able to walk through the station. However they don't say who will qualify as a local resident- but it is quite clear that this will not include everyone who currently uses the footbridge as a pedestrian route. For instance my children no longer live at home, but when they visit they always use that route to get to town.
The plans to improve Sheaf Valley Park,the green space immediately behind the station, and make this a part of the city centre regeneration will also be completely undermined by this scheme. The city centre sadly lacks green space. There are currently plans to improve the footpaths, making them disabled access friendly, install lighting and plant a great variety of new trees and bulbs. Workers in the city centre could escape here for a pleasant lunch break- but not if they can't get through the station to get there.
It is not clear how this pass system will work. Hard core fare dodgers will undoubtedly gain access to such passes and continue to dodge fares. Frustrated passengers who board a train at an unstaffed station, never see the conductor on the train and then can't be bothered to wait to pay for a journey they have already made, may be stopped by the barriers causing further delays to their journey. Surely it would be more efficient for both train passengers and fare collection to have enough conductors on the trains?
Elderly, disabled and parents with young children are still to be allowed through the barriers. How are these categories going to be defined? Surely this is discrimination against the fit and healthy? Will someone who is disabled (say with ME) have to prove they have this disability to get through? How old is old? And how young is young?
East Midlands trains have still not managed to offer us any statistics on how much revenue they are losing from fare dodging or how much will be saved from the barriers. The new pass scheme will obviously be expensive, as will the installation of the barriers. No one is saying we should go easy on fare dodgers- but I don't believe this is the best system to catch them. It will be less expensive, more productive in catching fare dodgers and far more popular with the many people that use this pedestrian route to employ more conductors and keep the station barrier free.