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Agenda item

Consultation about Improvements to York Railway Station

A presentation will be given by National Express about improvements to York Railway Station.  This will be followed by group discussion about issues arising.

Minutes:

Representatives from National Express gave a presentation on the proposed improvements to York Railway Station. 

 

The presentation included:

  • Improvements made over the last decade
  • Recent improvements
  • Proposals for 2009/2010
  • The future vision

 

Diagrams of the proposed automatic ticket gates were also circulated.

 

The Group was informed that representatives from National Express had previously met with the Campaign Against Barriers at York Station (CABYS) and were keen to hear the views of SIWG.  

 

The proposal to install automatic ticket gates was part of the franchise commitment and was very much supported by the Government.  It was a key policy of the rail industry. 

 

The Group was shown a map of the proposed developments and it was noted that the long-term aspiration was to work with the council to provide a new bridge, which would link to the city centre.

 

Members of the Group put forward their views and questions about the proposals and representatives from National Express responded to the points put forward:

 

·        Easy access from the short-term car park to the station is essential, particularly as this car park is often used by carers who are accompanying elderly or disabled travellers.

There would be a dedicated walkway from the car park to the station. Phase B of the plans would include the improvements in respect of the Scarborough Road bridge.

 

·        Will it be possible for a carer to accompany a passenger onto the station platform?

Yes.  They would obtain a pass from a member of staff.  An assisted travel scheme is also in place whereby passengers can arrange in advance for support to be provided on their journey.

 

·        Would the same apply if you wanted to meet a friend, relative or colleague on the platform?

Yes.  You would ask a member of staff for a pass.

 

·        How would parents with several children be able to cope with a ticket barrier?

Staff would be available to assist.  Wide aisle gates would also be in place for those with buggies or for wheelchairs.

 

·        Could luggage become trapped in the barriers?

Sensors would be in place to prevent the paddles on the machine from closing.  Wider gate access would also be available.

 

·        What would happen if there was a power cut?

The gates would open automatically.

 

·        Why is funding being invested in this way when it could be used to employ more ticket inspectors?

There will still be guards on trains.  National Express is contractually committed to installing automatic ticket gates. They bring benefits.

 

·        Do you have figures as to the amount of money that is lost through ticket evasion?

Although we are not prepared to state the amount involved, the issue of fraud and fare evasion is a big concern for National Express.  The fact that the franchise is prepared to invest around £1million in gating alone is an indication of how seriously the matter is taken.   The money saved will be reinvested back into the railways.

 

·        Can arrangements be put in place to allocate a place for prayer and reflection?  York has many tourists who use station and the city is also visited by religious travellers.

We will take back the request and give further consideration to this matter.

 

·        The proposed changes do not acknowledge the historical status of York Station.

National Express takes its obligations as custodian of York Station very seriously.  It is committed to maintaining and enhancing the buildings.  The improvements that it has made at stations such as Durham have won awards.  Representatives from National Express have met with the “Cultural Quarter” – Ad Hoc Scrutiny Committee and that meeting had focussed more on the cultural implications.  The ultimate aim is for the station to link in with the development of the “Cultural Quarter”.  National Express is committed to support the master plan for the listed building.

 

·        The station is an iconic building.  The proposed arrangements will make it exclusive and only available to travellers.

The building will not be exclusive.  Visits can be arranged for those who are interested in its history and design.

 

·        How will the proposed changes improve security?

There have been incidents of vandalism to the male toilets at York Station and of people using the waiting rooms overnight and leaving them in an undesirable condition.  Where other franchises have introduced ticket barriers such incidents have reduced, as have incidents of violence and threatened violence to staff.

 

·        Could improvements be made to the way in which passengers are notified when trains are delayed or platform changes are necessary?  The use of an audio system is not helpful to passengers who have hearing difficulties or for whom English is not their first language.  They are reliant on asking a member of staff to notify them if a change is announced.  It would be beneficial for such announcements to be made in a visual form as well as by an audio system.

National Express will look into this possibility. 

 

·        People with learning disabilities or for whom English is not their first language may find it difficult to cope with the machines.

The barriers will be manned at peak times.  Video support will be available and the gates can be opened randomly.  There will be ticket machines for people entering from Leeman Road and the long-stay car park.

 

·        Has an Equality Impact Assessment been carried out in respect of the proposals to consider how different equality groups will be affected?

That is one of the reasons why National Express is meeting with SIWG.

 

Members of the Group reiterated their concerns regarding the proposed changes. A key issue remained the access from the short-term car park.   There were also concerns that the barriers and ticket machines would pose difficulties for disabled passengers or those for whom English was not their first language.

 

The representatives from National Express stated that they understood the importance of the railway station to York and recognised that they were custodians of the station.  They were keen to engage with community groups and work in partnership with them.  Further comments from members of the group were welcome and should be forwarded to them.

 

RESOLVED:            (i)            That a copy of the Equality Impact Assessment template

                                    used by the Council be forwarded to National Express1.

 

(ii)That the Executive be requested to give full consideration to the issues raised by SIWG in respect of the proposed changes to the station and to the Equality Impact Assessment when this was submitted by National Express.

 

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