YP Letters: Northern's unfair policy on rail fines

From: P Armstrong, Bingley.

Disruption continues on rail services across the North.

MAY I congratulate Tom Richmond on an excellent column every week in The Yorkshire Post. He tells it how it is without all the political correctness we have to accept from other people.

I was particularly impressed with his report the other Saturday about the railways. I wrote to your newspaper a few weeks ago about the non-appearance of the paper timetables. I am a frequent rail passenger –not a ‘customer’ – and luckily not as a commuter.

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One aspect of Northern’s policy is that of fining people at least £20 for not having a ticket, it seems very discriminatory towards young and old.

Bingley is perhaps the busiest station on the Airedale line, there is a ticket office with one person serving. The queue can be right out the door. Then perhaps someone wants information, or to book a ticket for weeks in advance or has a problem paying by card. This is when passengers are supposed to either use the machine or, if they don’t have a card, get a promise to pay. If the machine is busy, this is often impossible.

The ticket machine is on the Skipton side so it makes it necessary for Leeds-bound passengers to come over the bridge or around the street.

Saltaire is even worse. This is an unmanned station, the machine is on the Leeds side, so passengers towards Skipton have to go over the road bridge to get their ticket, back over the bridge and down a long cobbled ramp to the platform. It’s impossible for old people and lone parents with small children.

If all the conductors got out of their cubby holes, they could collect fares on less busy trains.

I think part of the problem is the travelling public is simply a nuisance to the rail companies.

If those in control got out of their offices, tried to buy a ticket, travelled on the trains – not first class, and at busy times –they might appreciate what it is like for everyone else.

From: GC Wilson, Forest Crescent, Harrogate.

THE item (The Yorkshire Post, June 18) relating to the pay of the top public sector officials, and the article by Andrew Vine (The Yorkshire Post, June 12), should be read together.

Since a significant number of the best-paid civil servants are employed in the Department for Transport, perhaps this department is at the heart of many of the troubles which the railways are currently experiencing.

Since Network Rail is, in effect, a nationalised company, it is effectively owned by the DfT. Many of the problems being experienced by commuters, and others, stem directly from a number of failures by Network Rail and hence the DfT.

For example the cascading of rolling stock around the country where different types of trains are moved from one area to another is in some cases dependent on the completion of ungrades by Network Rail.

This is a complex arrangment and failures to complete projects on time can have a serious effect well away from the ‘local’ area. As an example, Network Rail has failed to complete the elecrification of one of the lines to Stirling and as a result could not release all the trains destined for English regions.

Not only was there a failure to complete but insufficient notice was given to the receiving companies that this failure would occur. How can a timetable be prepared and drivers trained when there is so much uncertainty at the top of the pyramid? It is no use training drivers on their route knowledge too far in advance since if a driver has not driven on a route for six months he is deemed to have lost his knowledge and has to be retrained. This is but a small example of a very complex system whose number one priority is safety.

As a final point, the Department for Transport’s fingerprints can be found in the new trains due on the East Coast route. Those who have had the doubtful benefit of riding in them liken the seats to ironing boards. You have been warned!

The real question is whether the Department for Transport is fit for purpose.

Respect the roundabouts

From: Godfrey Lomas, Otley Road, Eldwick, Bingley.

I ARRIVED in the West Yorkshire area in 1986 – that is more than 30 years ago – and was involved slightly in a scheme to place some mini roundabouts in the Wakefield area.

Since then, I have seen mini roundabouts appearing all over the area. Yet local drivers still seem to ignore them, perhaps mistaking them for the council just wasting stretched resources by using up old stocks of paint?

Apart from anything else, this is dangerous and inconsiderate of other road users.

Such behaviour always has been – and still is –illegal. Mini roundabouts, as the name suggests, are just small versions of those big green spaces to be seen all over the place.

After two near-misses this week when travelling in professionally controlled vehicles, I feel that it is time that people started to pay due respect to these traffic measures before the police wake up and take action.

Grand plan or better buses?

From: ME Wright, Harrogate.

I WISH Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake well with her “transformational” plan for the city’s transport (The Yorkshire Post, June 18). But might not extending railway car parks encourage even more cars on to the roads? Dare I suggest fewer of them and vastly improved, properly integrated bus services – one ticket for the whole bus/train journey and at a much lower price than now?

I realise that any council’s ambitions are constrained by Westminster’s mindless addiction to bottom lines, dividends and bleats of “competition” as the sovereign remedy for everything.

In contrast to so much else, Leeds City Council’s record on attractive public transport has amounted to ‘far too little for far too long’.

Can this plan make the vital difference? I hope so.