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Posted on Monday 8th February 2010

EMT at it again

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East Midland Trains are continuing to upset and bully the people of Sheffield with their ridiculous tactics of denying people access to the bridge across the station. They seem determined to alienate as many people as possible.

Following article is on page 2 of tonight’s Sheffield Star.

08 February 2010

By Nick Ward

FURIOUS campaigners have slammed railway bosses for stopping people without tickets crossing the Sheffield station footbridge.

The move, on Friday evening, comes just months after campaigners won their fight against an application to install ticket barriers to stop anyone without a ticket using the bridge.

Stagecoach, which owns East Midlands Trains, applied to install barriers to improve security and stop fare dodging but faced a massive protest when the plans were announced in 2008.

Sheffield Council’s planning board rejected the scheme in November.

Protesters were angry the barriers would prevent residents from using the station footbridge as a route between the city centre and Norfolk Park.

Members of campaign group Residents Against Station Closure say they are furious after the bridge was closed to anyone without a ticket on Friday evening.

Protester Graham Wroe said: “The six members of a city planning board unanimously voted to reject the scheme after receiving nearly 1,250 objections – and slammed the station operator for pursuing the plans despite such overwhelming opposition.

“But now EMT are continuing to disrupt pedestrians journeys, forcing people to use the unlit and dangerous covered bridge which has no disabled access, or take an extremely long detour to get round.

“On some previous occasions when EMT have carried out ticket checks they have issued pedestrians with tickets to enable them to cross the bridge. On this occasion they failed to do this and forced everybody to walk round.

“We are calling a meeting of Residents Against Station Closure on Monday February 15 at 7pm at Victoria Methodist Church, Stafford Road, to discuss our response.”

Fellow campaigner Mark Halsey has written to East Midlands Trains saying: “I wish to complain at being stopped on the footbridge at Sheffield station this evening.

“This is despite the fact that Sheffield City Council, when you applied to install barriers, made it clear that while you are entitled to run a penalty fare scheme, this only applies to the platforms on which your trains operate and that you can at no time prevent pedestrians from using the footbridge over the station.

“I would like an explanation as to why your staff and company think that the civil law doesn’t apply to them.”

East Midlands Trains said the ticket checks were part of an ongoing plan to prevent people trying to travel without a ticket and have been carried out for a number of months at Sheffield station. These ticket checks are also carried out in other stations across the East Midlands Trains network.

Loads of good comments on the website
http://www.thestar.co.uk/headlines/Outrage-as-residents-hit-by.6051230.jp
and a very supportive editorial
Don’t alienate Sheffield folk.
EAST Midlands Trains are right to be concerned over fare dodgers, who deprive the company of vital revenue which, in turn, threatens its role as employer to thousands of people. But it is not acceptable that their campaign to stop people travelling without a ticket should result in pedestrians being prevented from using a footbridge at Sheffield railway station, which is what happened the other evening when the rail company ..carried out a ticket check operation.
An application for ticket barriers at either end of the footbridge, in effect restricting its use only to train passengers, has already been thrown out by Sheffield City Council, which felt the apparatus was out of keeping with the character of the railway station.
In reality, though, this decision would have been driven equally by sympathy for the campaign against the loss of the footbridge to general use.
For the rail company to unilaterally close off a well used and much appreciated thoroughfare which not only links a major part of Sheffield with the city centre but also joins Hallam University with its bespoke tram stop, is to ignore the feelings of the public at large. The irony is that they no doubt sympathise with the company in its plight against fare dodgers.
We would appeal to them to find an alternative way to achieve their goal without alienating Sheffield people.

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