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Posted on Thursday 4th December 2008

Picket the station tomorrow

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Here’s the latest press release from RASC. Hope to see you tomorrow at the picket of the station, from 4.30-5.30pm.

Residents against Station Closure Press Release
2nd December 2008
For immediate release

EAST MIDLANDS TRAINS REFUSE TO ANSWER PROTESTERS QUESTIONS

At the latest consultation meeting between East Midlands Trains and those objecting to the imposition of barriers to Sheffield Station, East Midlands Trains agreed to answer questions about the proposed new pass that will supposedly entitle local residents to free passage through the station. Residents put their heads together and came up with a list of nearly 100 questions and concerns about the proposed scheme. (see below) Instead of answering the questions East Midlands have replied that they will only answer 5 or up to a maximum of 10 questions as they do not have the capacity to respond. If they have not got the capacity to think this proposal through to ensure it is workable before they install barriers they will not have capacity to set up and maintain the pass system. Sheffield Council has not yet decided how to respond as all of the questions are relevant. EMT are expecting the city to relinquish a vital piece of pedestrian infrastructure on the assurance that walkers will maintain the level of access we currently enjoy via the use of a smart card. It therefore seems reasonable that the residents should be assured that such a system has been adequately thought through and issues addressed before they go ahead.

Geraldine Roberts of RASC commented ” This is yet another example of EMT copping out of taking any responsibility for putting a serious case forward. Mr Kelly wants us to simplify what is, even if they do not realise it, a very complex subject.”

Meanwhile the Transport Minister Geoff Hoon has been to Sheffield Station and was met by Richard Caborn MP and Councillor Jan Wilson who showed him the rear entrance and explained how this is a vital pedestrian route for both local residents and the regeneration of the city. With Urban Splash currently working on the redevelopment of the flats and plans going ahead to redevelop Sheaf Valley Park, the installation of barriers would be a significant blow to the area.

Opposition to the barriers is still growing. The latest vote on the City Council website has 94% against the installation of barriers. There is a Facebook group of 500 members and an impressive group of supporters including

Chamber of Commerce – Sheffield
Creative Sheffield
English Heritage
Friends of Cholera Monument Grounds and Claywood
Friends of Sheaf Valley Park
Manor Castle Green Party
Manor and Castle Development Trust
Manor Castle and Woodthorpe Area Panel
Sheffield Campaign Against Climate Change
Sheffield City Council- Unanimous motions agreed 3 9 08 and 5 11 08
Sheffield Green Party
Sheffield Labour Party
Sheffield Liberal Democrats
Sheffield Civic Trust
Sheffield College- Castle Centre
Sheffield Hallam University
Sheffield Pensioners Action Group (SPAG)
Sheffield Transport 4 All
Sheffield Wild Life Trust
Shopmobility
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive.
Urban Splash
Victoria Community Enterprise
Victoria Environment Group

Julie Smethurst, Chair of Sheffield Transport 4 All, said: “Disabled people, and anyone with a communication, sensory or dexterity difficulty, has much to be concerned about with regard to the potential barriers. We would hope that East Midlands Trains would take proper account of our numerous concerns before they install anything. One of the joys of the pedestrian route through the station has been its accessibility and ease of use for disabled people, and it is a sad prospect that man-made barriers should be introduced into what has so far been an excellent, barrier-free area”.

RASC are organising a protest at the station this Friday,
December 5th from 4.30pm.

ENDS

Appendix

Questions for East Midlands Trains on the Sheffield “Gate Pass”

A : General

1. Has a scheme such as this giving timed access, been introduced elsewhere? Has EMT done anything like this before?
2. As the gates are supposed to be compatible with the tram tickets What prevents someone buying the cheapest tram ticket, entering the station and getting on a train whenever they wish?
3. How will intending passengers arriving by the back entrance buy a train ticket? Will such people be allowed free access to reach the ticket office if they do not hold a Gate Pass?
4. How can EMT guarantee that the Gate Pass system will continue indefinitely? It is bound to be expensive and difficult to administer. There is a major concern that barriers will be installed, the scheme will operate for a short while, be found to be unworkable and then removed, thus denying all pedestrian access to the station.

B : Issue of passes

1. How will people be informed that they are entitled to apply for a pass? Will EMT put large notices up at the front and back of the station detailing eligible groups?
2. How will Gate Passes be issued and distributed and how long will that take from application? Is there an application form?
3. Will there be a cost to applicants?
4. Who will process applications and issue passes?
5. Will Gate Passes only be issued to users who register with a name and address?
6. As these passes will be issued to an individual because EMT want to use them to monitor patterns of use and spot fraud, what forms of identification will you require?
7. How will you safeguard and return personal documents?
8. What checks are proposed on the validity of applicants’ data?
9. Will there be any control on multiple or duplicate applications?
10. Are Gate Passes to be transferable in respect of use?
11. Will the Gate Passes be live on despatch to the user, or will some other form of enablement be needed?
12. Would the passes have photos on? What other information would be visible on the pass? What information would be contained in the magnetic strip?
13. How would you define “a demonstrable link to Sheffield”? e.g. what about parents of students who have come to study in Sheffield. Could they apply? This could this mean that if you could be getting requests for passes from parents, siblings, children of students from anywhere in the country. How would you respond to that?
14. Who would have access to the data produced by the passes?
15. Will there be some form of Help Desk?

C Duration of the pass

1. Will the Gate Passes have an expiry date? If so, how frequently will they need to be renewed? What is the process for extension or renewal?
2. Many of the users of the station are students at school, college or university on both sides of the footbridge. This population will change to some extent every year. Will student passes be issued for the length of their attendance at the local institution or be issued every year or be valid indefinitely?

D Stopped passes

1. Under what circumstances would Gate Passes be stopped?
2. What will the mechanism be for stopping Gate Passes?
3. What would a holder do on finding their Gate Pass stopped?

E Lost, stolen or out of date passes

1. What will be the policy be on replacement of lost Gate Passes? Will lost passes be replaced?
2. How quickly would lost passes be replaced?
3. If someone used some else’s pass and then abused its use, what would be done?
4. If a pass was stolen, would EMT be able to cooperate with the police and catch the person using the pass?

F Time limits and re-entry

1. How long will people be allowed in the station before they are deemed to be a fare dodger? What if someone is meeting someone from a train and it is delayed? Or they are helping someone on a train and it is delayed? Or they arrive very early to meet someone from a train?
2. Will the gates exercise “pass-back” control on Gate Passes – i.e. prevent a repeated entry or exit within a specified time period?
3. If transit of the station is to be undertaken within a time limit from entry, will exit be prevented outside that time limit?
4. What sanction will apply to users exceeding the time limit and how would that be enforced?
5. What sanctions will be taken against Gate Pass users without entry and exit validations that correspond?
6. Is there any reason why a Gate Pass holder should not use it to enter or leave the station when they have another valid travel authority that does not work the gates – noting that there are a number of these?
7. What pass-back control will apply on tickets other than Gate Passes?
8. Will this allow exit and re-entry, such as for customers entering by the tram stop access who want to use the facilities on the other side of the station before returning to the platforms?
9. Will the barrier software allow exit and re-entry by passengers who are interchanging at Sheffield and wish to use the station facilities?
10. What would happen if there was a fault in the machinery so it didn’t check someone out as they leave the station? Could they be accused of fare dodging? How could they prove that the machine wasn’t working properly?
11. If someone walks through the station several times in one day, could the machines misinterpret the data and think someone is fare dodging?

G Compatibility

1. Will holders of SYPTE Senior Citizen travel passes have automatic access, since they can travel free on Northern Rail trains within the region?
2. Will Gate Passes be solely for use as Gate Passes or can they be used for other applications?
3. If Gate Passes can also be used for travel, and passes intended for travel can be used as Gate Passes, how will the gates distinguish between an entry or exit in connection with a journey and transit across the station?

H Disability Discrimination Questions

1. What monitoring has been carried out to measure the number of disabled passengers, in terms of numbers and percentages? What reports have been produced – and please will EMT provide copies?
2. How will the proposals provide access for occasional visitors to those people holding passes?
3. Where EMT says they will allow “mobility-impaired non-rail users (defined in a broad way)” to use the station without a pass, how will it be determined whether someone falls into this category or not?
4. Will it be down to the judgment of individual station staff?
5. If so, how will staff be trained in make these judgments?
6. How broad is the definition – will people with other disabilities fall into this category? (e.g. people with mental health problems or learning disabilities, who may need to use the direct route through the station)
7. If the definition includes people with all relevant disabilities, how will station staff judge people with these (invisible) disabilities?
8. How will people know how to get through the station this way?
9. What provision will there be for disabled people who don’t speak English as a first language – especially if staff are being asked to judge, say, disabled people with learning disabilities?
10. How many people do they expect to fall into the category of being able to go through the station without a pass or ticket? What evidence is this estimate based on?
11. What provision is expected for people who need to collect disabled people from the platform – e.g. someone collecting their elderly mother who has come from Edinburgh?
12. What measures would be put in place to cover the fact that sometimes a disabled traveller would be using their pass as a key to get through the station and sometimes as a ticket for local travel e.g. train to Doncaster or Leeds?
13. in relation to disabled people finding and operating the terminals (wheelchair users, those with manual dexterity issues, cognitive/learning/mental health issues, blind and partially sighted people, deaf/hearing impaired people)?
14. in terms of the impact on these groups of implementing such a system. Are there plans for an impact assessment, risk assessment, health and safety assessment?
15. in terms of sufficient time to navigate through automatic gates (a blind person or someone with a mobility impairment may need longer to get through the actual gate and way find to the other set of gates?)
16. Will the manually controlled free access to be offered to the “mobility impaired” extend to those who have ticket types which do not work the gates?

I Cost

1. How much would it cost to implement such a scheme?
2. How many Gate Passes do EMT envisage having to produce?
3. How long will the scheme take to break even (i.e. save more money from stopping fare dodging than investing in the new system?)
4. If the capital planned to invest in this new system (£1.2 million for the gates + whatever the cost of the Gate Pass system) was used to employ more ticket inspectors, how many ticket inspectors could be employed for the remainder of EMT’s franchise?

J Relationship with ITSO and Yorcard

1. What type of ITSO based smartcard is to be used?

2. Is there confidence that an ITSO based scheme will be fit for purpose

3. If they are branded as or linked to Yorcard, can they be used in the same way as other Yorcards?

4. Can a Yorcard issued by other parties be used as a Gate Pass?

5. When is EMT going to issue its own ITSO smartcards for rail travel as in the franchise agreement?

6. Will these EMT smartcards be administered separately from Yorcard?

7. What rail travel products will EMT be offering on Smartcards?Will these also be available on Yorcards?

8. Will they be available on ENCTS ITSO cards (national bus pass scheme or the Scottish and Welsh equivalents)?

9. Will ITSO cards issued under the ENCTS (but not Scotland or Wales) function as Gate Passes, as they are valid on Sheffield Supertram?

10. Will holders of ENCTS passes that are not on ITSO cards (note this includes all those issued in London, and some others) be allowed through the station to access the Supertram?

11. What products will require entry and/or exit validation at Sheffield?

12. Will any of these cards also serve as Sheffield Gate Passes?

13. If so, how will this be administered and the Pass enabled on the card?

14. Can the Sheffield Gate Passes also be used for rail travel?

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