Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sign Up to Call for Safer Stations; Standard Launches Petition as More MPs Join Campaign: ES INVESTIGATION - RAIL COMPANY GIVES WAY

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sign Up to Call for Safer Stations; Standard Launches Petition as More MPs Join Campaign: ES INVESTIGATION - RAIL COMPANY GIVES WAY

Article excerpt

Byline: NICHOLAS CECIL;LECH MINTOWT-CZYZ

THE Evening Standard launches a petition today demanding that rail companies protect their passengers by staffing London stations until the last trains leave.

The online petition for readers to sign will pile pressure on the operators.

It comes as Chiltern - one of the 10 firms serving London - announced it will be manning all its London stations from today.

Meanwhile, more than 50 MPs and ministers joined our campaign for safer stations, with most saying they will write to the firms to demand better security for rail travellers.

Ealing North Labour MP Stephen Pound said it had united almost all of the capital's MPs, adding: " Sometimes the Standard can speak for London in a way that individual MPs can't."

The campaign was launched after lawyer Tom ap Rhys Price was stabbed to death shortly after leaving Kensal Green station, one of a number of stations on Silverlink routes left unmanned at night.

We have revealed that in Greater London 229 stations are left unmanned for all or part of the day and that crime on the Tube and rail network has soared 38 per cent to a record high since 2001.

Hundreds of readers have contacted us with stories of dark, dingy and dangerous stations which they fear using at night.

The rail operators, who last year made [pounds sterling]130 million profits, have said they cannot afford to keep staff at stations.

However, experts say it would cost just [pounds sterling]4million a year to have a security guard at each one of the stations until the last train has left - a cost that could be recouped by the extra ticket revenue from relieved passengers.

The campaign has won political support for makingthe safety of passengers at stations a priority.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling pledged yesterday to implement a "step change", saying: "I think there has to be a radical change in gear towards improving safety and security at stations."

Earlier this week, Ken Livingstone announced that when he takes control of Silverlink Metro routes next year he will guarantee that all 50 stations are manned at night - and to make that a condition of future franchises. …

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