Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

End of Line for Train-Spotters? Rail Company and Unions Row over Plans

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

End of Line for Train-Spotters? Rail Company and Unions Row over Plans

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul James Chief Reporter

WEARING anoraks and bobble hats and sporting notepads and flasks, train-spotters are perhaps no strangers to ridicule.

But banishing them from train stations is taking matters altogether too far.

A row broke out yesterday after union chiefs claimed National Express was planning to ban the spotters from Newcastle's Central Station, under moves to crack down on fare dodgers.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association said its officials were told at a meeting that the ban was being planned on the East Coast line.

National Express strongly denied the claim and said platform passes will be issued to train-spotters - but the union insisted its information was correct and said only those with "no sense of history" would take such action.

TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty said: "Sir John Betjeman will be turning in his grave at this news. It means that the barbarians have finally taken over the industry. Only people with no sense of history would commit such an act of mindless vandalism.

"Young train-spotters have been with us since Victorian times. Now National Express are saying they should be banned because they are a nuisance.

"These people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. They do not respect the industry or its values. They should go back to running buses."

A National Express spokesman said: "This is nonsense and is more mischief making by the unions. Platform passes will be issued to people including our train-spotters who wish to go on to the platforms but aren't travelling.

"Gating is a franchise commitment. It is part of a contractual agreement with the Government as a condition of awarding National Express the East Coast franchise. "Gating is becoming increasingly common throughout the world and the Government's support for ticketing gate scheme was indicated further in February 2009 when it brought forward a scheme to gate 14 stations in South London at a cost of pounds 5.5m "Gating will prevent fraudulent ticketless travel and protect revenue. This substantial lost revenue will be channelled back into the rail industry, including through investment in enhanced facilities. …

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