Station bridge a waste of money

From: NP Johnson

Sheffield

IN your edition (March 1) you reported how the offer of £3million to build a second bridge at Sheffield Station was been hailed as a breakthrough.

I would suggest it is a total waste of money. We already have a perfectly adequate footbridge, of which the city is justly proud.

Ticket barriers, or gates, are a uniquely British solution to a universal problem. Other countries in Europe don’t have them because the inconvenience they cause to the honest traveller outweighs the benefits they bring to the train operator. But if course most other countries have not privatised their railways. The old nationalised British Rail generally scrapped barriers in the 1990s for this reason.

With barriers there will be huge congestion at rush-hour. That could become a safety issue. What if there was an emergency? Friends and relatives will not be able to accompany passengers to and from the platform with their luggage.

Travellers in a hurry who have, for whatever reason, not had the chance to by a ticket in advance, will simply miss the train, rather than having the the opportunity to purchase one from the conductor on board, albeit at a premium, which they can and frequently do now.

In the UK we cant buy e-tickets online, as they do on the continent because they don’t fit the ticket gates.

Is there any evidence of how much “fare dodging” is actually costing the train companies? How can it be economical to spend money on installing gates, and paying extra staff to operate them, in order to prevent this?

If there is adequate staffing of trains and checking of tickets on board. I find it hard to believe that anyone could travel from Sheffield to say, Bristol without a valid ticket.

As far as local services are concerned, these are supposed to be pay trains, where you pay the conductor. Why is someone boarding a train to Meadowhall with out a ticket any different to boarding a tram in similar circumstances?

Gating stations seems to be a response to having fewer staff on board the trains, thereby compromising passenger safety. Sheffield station, recently modernised, with its concourse, Sheffield Tap, and civic footbridge, is a friendly, welcoming gateway to the city, because it operates as an “open station”. Ugly ticket gates, with the inevitable ensuing queues, frustrating and jobsworth officialdom they bring with them, would ruin that impression.

We got rid of them 20 years ago, for good reason. They belong in the past. Let’s not have them back.