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Category Archives: South West Trains

The waiting room on platforms 2 and 3 at West Byfleet station is locked, vandalised and crumbling, and has been for many years. Isn’t it odd that when a fortune was spent on building a new footbridge with lifts at West Byfleet a couple of years ago nothing was done about this continuing eyesore – a depressing and frustrating sight for those waiting for trains. Maybe if, as seems likely, there is no intention to spend serious money on it, a little bit of cash can be allocated to just demolishing it and removing this reminder of more civilised days  – when it was open, in good repair, unvandalised, and could provide a refuge for passengers. Days lone gone, I fear.

April 2011 update: It IS going to be demolished and replaced with a new, “vandal-proof” shelter, I understand. The same thing will happen to the shelter that has just disappeared on platform one. A “vandal-proof” shelter is an interesting concept – not least to vandals. But look at all the improvements set in train once Wokingmatters takes up the cudgels!

August 2011: Platform one got an enclosed shelter with seating, platform three got an open shelter with no seating. Preferential treatment for London commuters, you see. But platform three does have the benefit of its unspoilt wildflower meadow. I hope it’s protected by the Nature Conservancy Council, if such a body still exists.

A glossy newsletter from Woking MP Humfrey Malins – sorry you’re going, Humfrey – plops on to the doormat. Included in the list of his commendable activities is a picture of Humfrey conferring “Secure Station Status” on West Byfleet station, accompanied by a slightly bewildered-looking member of station staff, and two smug-looking South West Trains managers. According to SWT’s website, secure station status is only conferred after meeting strict criteria set by the British Transport police and the Department for Transport. In West Byfleet’s case, they obviously took into account the passenger shelter on platform one, the evening gathering place for local youths, where the detritus of discarded chips and bottles, broken or otherwise, accumulate day after day. They would also have kept in mind the waiting room on platforms two and three, which has been locked up and barred to deter vandals for many years. And then of course there is the new footbridge and lift, still barred to passengers while work to finish them, which started well over 18 months ago, seems to drag on for ever. And what about the secure stations certificate itself? No sign of it being on display in the passenger ticket office/waiting area. Well, it would only encourage attacks from vandals, wouldn’t it?

It gives me no pleasure to report that suspicions about South West Trains tactics on staffing ticket offices, voiced on a blog on this site on January 19 this year, already appear to be coming true. After apparently accepting the government’s insistence last month that they should not slash the opening times of many ticket offices, SWT is approaching this from another angle, as predicted, by keeping the ticket offices open but cutting staff anyway. Thus at West Byfleet station plans are afoot to cut the current staff by 60%, from five to two. This will mean that when two ticket windows are required to be open to cope with peak morning demand, from around 7-9.30 am, only one window will be open, creating long queues and frustration and forcing people to board trains without tickets, and be treated as suspected criminals by SWT guards as a result. Are SWT suggesting that peak passengers numbers are down by 50%? A veteran member of staff who attempted to inform his customers of this news was threatened with suspension as a result. These cuts are likely to be replicated at other stations in the Woking area and across the network. This is typical of SWT’s arrogant behaviour, towards government now, as well as long-suffering passengers. Don’t let them get away with it!

Last week the government told South West Trains that its plans to reduce opening hours at more than 100 ticket offices to save money and staff were largely unacceptable

It sounded like a rare piece of good news. Then SWT responded by announcing that 480 jobs would have to go anyway

This raises the possibility that SWT will go back to the government after the job cuts are implemented and say that it  no longer has the staff to keep open ticket offices at existing times, presenting it with a fait accompli. SWT justifies its call to reduce ticket office opening hours by saying that there are more ticket machines on stations. These, as everyone knows, are often broken … and if the ticket offices are shut there will be no one to fix them