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Tag Archives: passengers

Passengers without tickets to be hit with on-the-spot fines

RAIL passengers travelling without a ticket on two routes in the Bradford district could be hit with on-the-spot fines in a fresh crackdown on fare dodgers, a rail company has announced.

A team of ‘authorised collectors’ will be positioned at stations along the Airedale and Wharfedale lines to issue £20 ‘penalty fares’ to ticketless travellers.

Train operator Northern is bringing in the changes as part of a campaign to get all its passengers to buy their tickets before they get onboard .

The penalty fares system – already used by other train operators in different parts of the country – will start in the Bradford district on December 6.

It means passengers travelling without a ticket on a Northern train from that date anywhere between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square, Leeds/Bradford and Ilkley, or Leeds/Bradford and Skipton, could be penalised on the spot.

Other stations on those routes include Frizinghall, Shipley, Keighley, Baildon and Guiseley.

Northern says it has invested in new state-of-the-art ticket machines at all stations on the two lines. Posters are going up at stations, while leaflets will be handed out to rail passengers to explain all about it.

Tim Calow, chairman of the Aire Valley Rail User’s Group said that, in principle, it was important to stop people travelling without paying, but more ticket machines were needed at stations first.

“There are some stations such as Silsden and Steeton where there is only one machine – a five minute walk from other platforms, and in Cononley people from the village wanting to go to Skipton will have to cross the level crossing twice to get a ticket first.

“I’ve had emails from Northern saying they plan to put in more machines but I doubt it will happen before December 6.”

Paul Barnfield, regional director for Northern, said: “The penalty fares are a natural extension of the Buy Before You Board Campaign we launched last year.

“Sadly there is still a minority who believe they have a right to travel without buying a ticket.

“Their actions reduce the overall income of the rail industry and, as a result, reduces the money available to invest in further improvements to the railway.

“Everyone who travels by train should have a valid ticket or pass, or must be able to demonstrate they have made every effort to buy a ticket before they boarded.

“If they are unable to do either of these then, from December 6, our authorised collectors will be on hand at stations along the routes to either issue £20 fines or ask customers to pay double the cost of a single ticket to their destination.”

Mr Barnfield spoke of the measures that have been introduced to prevent well-intentioned passengers falling foul of the new crackdown.

He said: “We have invested in new state-of-the-art ticket machines at all stations on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines.

“These machines offer a full range of fares – including discounts.

“With online and mobile ticketing, as well as ticket offices at our staffed stations, there is really no reason for anyone to board a train without a valid ticket.

“For customers who want to pay by cash, our ticket machines will issue Promise to Pay notices which can be exchanged (along with a cash payment) for a ticket when on board the service or at the next available ticket office.”

Penalty fares have been used by a number of train operators across the country for more than 20 years.

The scheme works to a national set of rules which include signs and warning notices at stations. There is also a clear appeals process which has been tried and tested by the industry.

The new scheme seems set to replace a previous ‘failure to purchase’ system, which had prompted complaints from passengers.

Go to northernrailway.co.uk/penalty-fares to find out more about the new scheme.

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Budget 2017: Railcard extended for people aged up to 30

Rail ticket machinesImage copyright PA

Railcards offering discounted train travel are to be extended to people up to 30 years old.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to announce the extension in Wednesday’s Budget after a successful trial that convinced the Treasury the move would be revenue neutral.

Currently, the young persons’ railcard is for the 16-25 age bracket, but a new 26-30 card will be introduced.

The so-called millennials’ card will be available from about Spring 2018.

A trial of the 26-30 year-olds card took place in East Anglia and will now be rolled-out nationally.

It will cost about £30 and travellers will get up to one third off ticket fares, although there will be restrictions on peak-time travel.

Railcards were introduced as a way for train companies to help fill seats during off-peak times. The card for 16 to 25-year-olds has existed in one form or another since 1974.

Image copyright Getty Images

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, the trade body for train companies and Network Rail, said: “It’s good news that government has chosen to build on the trial of a 26-30 railcard by Greater Anglia on behalf of the wider industry.

“A key commitment in our long-term plan to change and improve is to boost communities by enabling more people to travel by train and that’s why we developed this proposal.”

‘Tinkering’

The Treasury said the move would help keep the cost of living down for more young people.

However, Andy McDonald, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary said: “Any move that reduces the cost of travel is welcome but the Tories are tinkering around the edges of a broken system.

“Our railway should be run by and for passengers, not private shareholders and foreign governments.”

Also on Wednesday, the chancellor is expected to announce a review, led by an independent chair, into airline insolvency arrangements.

If follows the recent collapse of Monarch, which left 110,000 passengers without a return flight home. It cost UK taxpayers about £60m to bring people back to Britain.

The Treasury said Monarch’s failure highlighted the uneven nature of consumer protection when an airline folds.

The review will consider how insolvency arrangements can be reformed to protect passengers and ensure value for the taxpayer.

The review will produce an interim report by summer 2018, with a final report by the end of 2018.

British Airways to board passengers in cheap seats last

Terminal 5Image copyright Getty Images

British Airways is introducing a boarding policy that means those buying the cheapest seats will be called last.

From 12 December, passengers will be assigned a number between 1-5 printed on boarding passes, with the highest figure reserved for economy fares.

BA said the move is about simplifying the boarding process, and bringing it into line with other carriers, including American Airlines and Iberia.

But BA was accused of operating a class system and further eroding perks.

The number “one” will be given to first class passengers, with others assigned to other segments such as Executive Club or World Traveller Plus.

Passengers who are travelling with children or have mobility issues will still be able to board ahead of everyone else.

A BA spokeswoman said: “We are always looking at ways to improve and simplify the airport experience for our customers… Next month we are introducing new boarding procedures to speed up the process and make it simpler for customers to understand.

“This method has been used by airlines around the world for a number of years, including by our partners American Airlines, Iberia and Qatar.”

‘Stupid idea’

But the move has not gone down well with some travellers on Twitter. Banjobob @scottishcringe says: “Nothing quite like a British class system to let you know your place!”

David Smith @drs1969 writes: “British Airways: Are you out of your minds? This boarding method is appalling and universally hated.”

And Sam Vines @samvines6, writes: “Who thought up this stupid idea? If you want to improve boarding process then group by seats, not by price.”

However, the zoned boarding plan was welcomed by Ben Schlappig, who writes the One Mile At A Time frequent-flyer blog.

“Arguably this is an easier system as it can be consistent across aircraft types, and is also easier for passengers to comprehend.

“Ultimately the success of such a system largely comes down to the clarity of announcements and the enforcement of the boarding area. The way I see it this would definitely simplify things, so I’d welcome it.”

Tributes paid to former journalist, 85

A RETIRED Keighley journalist who covered major stories such as the Yorkshire Ripper murders and the Bradford City stadium fire has died aged 85.

Trevor Atkins, who lived in Riddlesden and began working for the Keighley News in 1949, and was a journalist for 41 years, died in Airedale Hospital on November 10.

He leaves his wife Barbara, sons Stephen and Graham, and a grand-daughter, Amy.

His family have said that a copy of the Keighley News, Telegraph & Argus and Yorkshire Post will be placed in his coffin, as he worked for all of those papers during his career.

Graham Atkins, who lives in Exley Head, said: “He was very hard working and caring. He always put other people first and he really did not have a bad word to say about anyone. He wouldn’t judge people.”

Trevor Atkins was born in Keighley and attended Keighley Boys’ Grammar School.

He completed his National Service as a clerical worker with the Royal Air Force. He was an enthusiastic cyclist and would even cycle from his RAF base in Buxton, Derbyshire, to Keighley and back during weekends.

It was while he was with the RAF that he learned to type.

Following his stint at the Keighley News he helped launch a new weekly paper in Shipley in 1963. After a spell with the Telegraph & Argus based in its Bingley office, he joined the Yorkshire Post, retiring from that paper in 1990.

Among the events he also covered during his time as a reporter were the crimes committed by notorious armed robber, kidnapper and murderer Donald Neilson – who was dubbed the Black Panther.

Mr Atkins served as president of both Keighley and Bradford branches of the National Union of Journalists, and was a keen organist and hiker.

He also volunteered his time for a patients’ information group at Airedale Hospital, was editor of the house magazine at Manorlands hospice, and was secretary of the Master Bakers Association.

He was a friend of the Settle to Carlisle line and survived the traumatic 1995 Ais Gill rail accident on that railway, when a landslide caused a train derailment and collision, resulting in the death of a conductor and many injuries to passengers.

Mr Atkins ended up in hospital for five days with broken ribs.

He met his future wife, Barbara Rickerby, in 1949 while working at the Keighley News in North Street. She was then employed as a mender at a business called Tanfield on the opposite side of the street.

The couple were married at Keighley Parish Church in 1956.

Mr Atkins’ funeral service will take place on Thursday, November 23, at The Knowle Chapel of Rest, Keighley, at 1.30pm, followed by a private family cremation.

His family have asked for flowers only, and donations may be made in lieu of flowers to Manorlands Hospice and the RNLI.

Passengers asked to get involved with latest designs for £17m Forster Square station revamp

MEMBERS of the public will be asked how they would like a major £17m revamp of Bradford Forster Square station to look.

The station is in line for a complete transformation by 2021, under a project unveiled by transport bosses last year designed to coincide with new direct services to London.

‘Pods’ housing waiting rooms and other facilities would be built under the railway arches and a piece of scrubland next to the platforms would become a green ‘pocket park’.

The existing lift structure would be removed and new lifts would be set further back to open up views of the historic railway arches behind.

And whereas passengers currently struggle to buy a hot drink, the revamped station would have a new cafe and a shop.

Artists’ impressions of how the new station could look were first unveiled last year and now Bradford Council has released more detailed architectural drawings, with parts of the design further tweaked to create a grander entrance with a taller roof.

Part of the station is now also planned to have a green ‘living roof’.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s executive member for regeneration, planning and transport, said currently the structure housing the lift blocked the view of the original arches and protruded into the station.

“It’s not a great space,” he said.

By stripping this out, he said, they would create a more imposing open space to welcome people into the station and make more of a feature of the the original railway arches, which he said were “architecturally fantastic and quite under-valued”.

He said: “It will be quite a unique station, I think, because we will have these fantastic architectural qualities, linking in with our railway heritage, being brought back into use.”

And transport bosses will soon be heading out with these architects’ designs, asking passengers to chip in with their thoughts, such as whether the eye-catching new arched roofs should have Gothic-style points or Roman-style curves.

People will also be asked about what facilities they would like the station to have, such as whether the waiting rooms should be heated, what kind of bicycle storage should be offered, whether there should be two lifts instead of one and how the pocket park should be landscaped.

Tom Jones, senior transport planner at Bradford Council, said: “There are some key questions we want to ask, focusing mainly on facilities.

“We have got facilities we think are important and we want to run that by the public.”

The consultation sessions will be held at the station over a few days next month, with the exact dates still to be finalised.

The final designs would then be drawn up by next spring, around the same time as the West Yorkshire Combined Authority is due to give the official go-ahead for full funding of the scheme from its £1bn West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund.

Building work could then begin by the end of 2018 and finish in 2020/21.

The rebuilding of the station comes as Virgin Trains East Coast prepares to start running services from Forster Square to London every two hours from 2019.

Transport bosses say this means passengers taking longer journeys will be waiting in the station for longer and will expect better facilities.

Cllr Ross-Shaw said: “At the moment, you just need to go for your service and you are in and out straight away.

“That isn’t ideal and the retail offer isn’t great.

“This is just a more modern, functional rail station.”

The new East Coast services from Forster Square will be in addition to the existing four trains a day which run from Bradford Interchange to London King’s Cross, operated by Grand Central.

Southern Rail disruption delays London’s deputy mayor for transport

Southern Rail trainsImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Delays on Southern services have disrupted commuters in the south east

London‘s deputy mayor for transport struggles to get to early morning meetings because of disruption on Southern Rail, documents reveal.

Val Shawcross’s office said in an email that “Val is a morning person but has to use Southern trains to get in to the office so we try not to have too many early starts”.

Southern Rail has refused to comment.

The train operator has been hit by repeated strikes and its owners fined over its poor performance.

The documents were revealed to the BBC under a Freedom of Information act request.

A City Hall spokesman said: “The deputy mayor for transport works her socks off to make the capital’s transport network more affordable, reliable and accessible for all Londoners.

“Under Sadiq [Khan] and Val, TfL passengers have enjoyed frozen fares and seen a nearly 60 per cent reduction in the number of days lost to strikes.

“If the government shared their drive and gave TfL control of more suburban lines, rail passengers too would get the service they deserve.”

Ms Shawcross did not comment personally.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Val Shawcross was unable to schedule early meetings due to Southern Rail disruptions

The email was among correspondence sent in September from Ms Shawcross’s office to public relations firm Newington Communications, which was arranging a meeting between the deputy mayor and Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) general secretary Steve McNamara.

The emails revealed that Sadiq Khan said he was too busy to meet Mr McNamara in June and arranged for him to meet Ms Shawcross instead.

Ms Shawcross told the LTDA that she was unable to discuss the Uber relicensing decision with it, which it had requested to do, because doing so with a third party would prejudice TfL’s role as regulator.

On legal advice, she delayed the meeting until after the licensing decision.

TfL took the decision to withhold a new licence from Uber earlier this year.

Taking a walk down a Crossrail tunnel

Crossrail will carry an estimated 200 million passengers a year and cost nearly £15bn.

The Elizabeth Line service will run as far west as Reading in Berkshire and east as Shenfield in Essex.

BBC London‘s transport correspondent Tom Edwards walked down the a key part of the line – the tunnel in central London between Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road.

Signal failure

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionSignal failure! The train traveller’s nightmare explained

Matthew Broad was waiting at Reading station for a train that it seemed would never arrive.

“I was miffed. But then came the familiar excuse – signal failure. It’s a term with a certain mythical quality, often referred to, but rarely explained.”

So Matthew, who regularly commutes from Oxford, wrote to the BBC to ask us to find out more about what “signal failure” actually means.

“My train is often delayed because of ‘signal failure’. But what exactly is this? Why do they go wrong? And what can be done to stop this?” he asked.

Matthew isn’t alone in being plagued by incidents of signal failure. Last year in the UK there were more than 19,000 incidents that caused delays of 100 minutes or longer.

What is signal failure?

Railway signals are traffic-light devices that tell a train driver if it’s safe to proceed along the track. As on the roads, a driver shouldn’t pass a red light.

To stop trains hitting each other, tracks are divided into sections. Only one train should be in a particular section at any time and signals are positioned at the beginning of each one.

But sometimes these systems break and the signal turns red even when there is no train in the section.

Signal failure refers to various things that go wrong, causing a train to be held up at a red signal. The stationary train quickly creates knock-on delays.

Image copyright Getty Images

Why do they go wrong?

Problems with track circuits and axle counters which are used to detect if a train is in a section are common causes.

A track circuit is a small current running between the tracks and trains and an axle counter measures the track wheels going in and out of a section – if the numbers match, the section is clear for the next train.

But track circuits are susceptible to rain – not uncommon in the UK – causing corrosion, while axle counters don’t respond well to heat and sometimes require a manual reset.

Cable theft along the tracks and track points failure (the moveable bit of rail that enables trains to switch between tracks) also cause signal failure.

At its peak, copper cable theft cost Network Rail up to £16m a year.

Who is responsible?

In the UK, the state-owned Network Rail is responsible for the upkeep of railway track and infrastructure, while private train companies operate the trains. Despite being different organisations they have to work closely together to resolve issues.

“We are in the hands of Network Rail completely,” a duty control manager at one of the largest train companies told the BBC. When signal failure occurs, it becomes “hard to predict timescales”, he said.

“When a person is struck by a train, we get to work on reopening the line in 90 minutes, and everyone knows what the task is. With signal failure it can be a piece-of-string estimate. While it’s not about passing the buck, it can be frustrating for us, getting a bad reputation because a Network Rail system has failed again.”

Signal failure may frustrate passengers but the fail-safe nature of the system is part of the reason for the UK’s high safety record. The last fatality as a result of a crash was in 2007.

“Safety comes first in everything,” says Tony Miles of Modern Railway Magazine. “I’m sure passengers would rather signals go red so teams can check out what’s wrong.”

Image copyright MOD
Image caption The 2007 Grayrigg derailment in which one passenger died

What can be done to stop it?

Martin Jones, chief control command and signalling engineer, is responsible for reducing signal failure on Britain’s railways.

He told us the reliability of equipment is key.‎

“We are a lot more reliable now than a few years ago. As we modernise our systems we tend to have control of larger areas, so failure can be worse when the system goes badly wrong. However, it gives us the conditions to monitor equipment more proactively.”

Mr Jones said monitoring enabled equipment to be fixed before it went wrong, preventing signal failure. Currently around two-thirds of track points and 40% of track circuits have been fitted for remote monitoring. This investment in remote monitoring should help engineers locate problems caused by rain and heat before they cause a signal to fail.

Mr Miles says mobile maintenance teams need to be more widespread across the country. “Even in the digital age you still need people on the ground,” he added.

One hope is that Britain will move to a digital moving block railway. Similar to modern air traffic control, this would dispense with the need for trackside monitoring equipment. More precise monitoring of a train’s location would also free up capacity for more trains on the network.

However, this system is still years away – not much consolation for Matthew while waiting for his train.

Image caption Matthew Broad and Network Rail’s Thomas Donaghey, a shift signalling manager

Matthew’s verdict:

So what does Matthew now think? “It’s reassuring that Network Rail have acknowledged reliability can be improved and that they are going out of their way to help make the system better.

“I’m shocked, though, that such simple things as rain continue to cause problems.

“It’s interesting that Tony Miles mentions how teams more widely dispersed along the rail network would be able more immediately to respond to faults. As with the digital moving block railway, I suppose it’s a question of money. And in an era of cuts it’s not clear whether there’ll be any more available.”


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Christmas rail delays: Work to shut lines across UK

Railway workers completing engineering workImage copyright PA

Rail passengers are being advised to travel earlier to avoid disruption over the Christmas period, with more than 200 sets of engineering works planned.

Routes across London, Kent, East Sussex, Lancashire, Essex and Glasgow are among the lines to be shut.

Network Rail, which controls the UK‘s railways, says 95% of the network will be unaffected and it is the least disruptive time to do this work.

Bus replacements are planned but journey times are likely to increase.

London Paddington will be closed for four days between Christmas Eve and 27 December with Great Western Railway advising passengers to travel by 23 December “at the latest”.

Between 23 December and 1 January, there will be no Greater Anglia trains between London Liverpool Street and Ingatestone or Billericay.

Elsewhere, buses will replace trains between Preston and Lancaster from Christmas Eve until 27 December.

Over this three-day period, those travelling between London and Glasgow will also face longer journey times as passengers are advised to go via Edinburgh.

Southeastern trains will not be running to London Bridge, Charing Cross or Cannon Street from 23 December to 1 January.

Network Rail’s chief executive Mark Carne said most of the network is open for “business as usual” but some routes will be “heavily affected”.

He strongly advised passengers to plan ahead this Christmas.

“We know that our railway is up to 50% quieter than usual during the festive period, so taking on and delivering these huge transformational schemes at this time of year minimises our impact on passengers.”

Belfast Flybe flight lands without nose gear

The plane landed without nose gearImage copyright PA/Liam McBurney
Image caption The plane landed without nose gear

A Belfast passenger plane has landed without nose gear after it experienced “technical issues” and circled for more than an hour above the Irish Sea.

Fifty-three passengers and four crew members were on board the Flybe flight BE331 from Belfast City Airport to Inverness, which had to be diverted.

It landed at Belfast International Airport at about 13:30 GMT.

The airline said one passenger was taken to hospital with “a minor hand injury” but no-one else was hurt.

‘Difficult manoeuvre’

“Flybe can confirm that there has been an incident involving one of our Bombardier Q-400 aircraft, flight no BE331 which landed with no nose gear in place,” its statement said.

The Dash-8-400 aircraft was scheduled to leave Belfast at 11:05 GMT and was due to land in Scotland at 12:10.

Shortly after take-off, the pilot identified a problem with the landing gear.

The flight circled in a holding pattern for over an hour near Belfast Lough, before the crew declared an emergency and diverted to Belfast International Airport.

The airport’s operations director, Alan Whiteside, has praised the actions of the captain.

“It was obvious on the [runway] approach that the nose wheel was not down and therefore he did have a problem,” Mr Whiteside told the BBC‘s Evening Extra programme.

“A superb bit of flying on behalf of the flight deck crew.

“They landed the aircraft, touched down on the main wheels, held the nose of the aircraft up to the very last minute to bleed off the speed.

“Then when the nose dropped, they were able to control it in a safe landing on the runway.”

Mr Whiteside added: “It was stressful for the crew, but it was probably just as stressful for the passengers.”

Image copyright PA/Liam McBurney
Image caption The Flybe plane had 57 people on board – 52 adults, one infant and four crew members

He told the programme that the “only injury was a sprained thumb, with one of the passengers”.

The damaged plane blocked the runway, but Mr Whiteside said that because there are two runways at Belfast International, the airport was able to continue operating.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said it was sending a team to Belfast International Airport to investigate the incident.

The pilots have also been praised by the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA).

“Landing without a nose gear is a very difficult manoeuvre, but one pilots train extensively for,” BALPA tweeted.

The Flybe pilots “appear to have done a sterling job”, it added

The airline said its “primary concern is for the welfare of the passengers and crew”.

“We are sending a specialist team to Belfast to offer assistance and we will now do all we can to understand the cause of this incident.”

Image copyright Geoff Coyles
Image caption The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is sending investigators to Belfast

Fire crews were on standby at Belfast International Airport for an emergency landing, according to Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS).

“The aircraft has landed safely. No action required from NIFRS at the scene,” it tweeted.

A number of flights were delayed for a time after the incident.