Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hope over 'Ghost Stations'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hope over 'Ghost Stations'

Article excerpt


Rail firms in talks to put on station guards following lawyer's murder Editor PLANS to lay on late-night staff at unmanned rail stations are under discussion today.

Train company Silverlink is in talks with Ken Livingstone's Transport for London over the possibility of keeping a presence at the stations beyond normal booking office hours.

A senior source at Silverlink's parent company National Express confirmed the talks began yesterday in response to a public outcry after the murder of lawyer Tom ap Rhys Pryce near Kensal Green station less than two weeks ago.

Kensal Green is jointly managed by Silverlink and Transport for London but is unmanned when the booking office closes at 8.45pm during the week and earlier at the weekend.

Dozens of commuters have contacted the Standard since the killing to express fears about their safety when they get off trains at empty stations.

Teacher Malcolm Bailey said: "If Silverlink staffed the stations throughout the day until the last train this would probably not have happened.

"The commercial aspect of running a service is important but I would rather pay an extra 20p on a ticket and see people employed and providing a valuable service."

Another regular commuter who uses Canonbury station in Islington said the Silverlink routes in North London "are nicknamed 'The Loony Line' on account of the numbers of nutcases, drunks and other weirdos who use the service".

Silverlink's commuter franchise expires next year and will be handed over to Transport for London. National Express made a pretax profit of [pounds sterling]130.5 million last year. Chief executive Phil White earns more than [pounds sterling]1 million a year.

Mr White has come under fire for refusing to order Silverlink to pay the [pounds sterling]50 a night security experts estimate it would cost for a guard to patrol a station for four hours until the last trains have departed.

The total extra cost to install guards at all vulnerable stations would be around [pounds sterling]255,000. …

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