PASSENGERS USING STATION UP 10%
The number of people using the Whitchurch train station is up by 10% in the 2010/2011 fiscal year, the latest available statistics show.
That may not be enough to keep the ticket office open, though.
It is expected that the 2011/2012 passenger usage results will be worse because the access from north of town was blocked while the Newbury Road bridge was replaced during February through April 2012.
RECOMMENDATION FOR CLOSURE
The McNulty report issued last year categorized stations based on the number of hours their ticket office was open during weekdays. Our station is “category E”: open 10 hours on average during weekdays.
The report recommends the closure of all “category E” ticket offices.
MORE USER-FRIENDLY TICKETING SYSTEM
The Government’s response to the McNulty report, entitled Reforming Our Railways, called for ‘a more user-friendly ticketing system that communicates fares information to passengers in a straightforward way, so they can confidently select the most appropriate fare for their journey.’
Many find that Kevin “Kev” Durant, our current ticket office clerk, is very ‘user friendly’ and able to find the lowest fare for journeys when asked.
The Government report, though, details the importance of ‘increasing passenger confidence in buying tickets from a machine or online.’
The response also stated the Government will…
‘…specify the use of smart ticketing technology in franchise agreements a they come up for renewal.’
South West Trains introduced the first smartcard system on the UK rail network in 2008. There are machines installed already at our railway station; they are for Stagecoach Smart Cards.
The Public Accounts Committee severely criticised the Government’s Department of Transport in its February report: ‘The Department continues to view Network Rail as an “essentially private sector” company despite giving it over £3 billion a year in funding and underwriting its debt of over £25 billion.‘
It concluded, ‘the Department continues to hide behind the Office for National Statistics classification of Network Rail as a private company which keeps Network Rail’s debt off the public balance sheet and its spending from direct NAO [National Audio Office] scrutiny.‘
Historical footnote: The West of England Main Line that passes through Whitchurch opened 3 July 1854.
The passenger usage statistics for Whitchurch were extracted from THESE and summarized HERE. The McNulty report from May 2011 is HERE and the Government’s response to it in March 2012 is HERE. The Public Accounts Committee’s report (criticism) of the Department of Transport is HERE.