National Express loses rail franchise, erects inconvenient barriers anyway

The Government today announced that the National Express East Coast Mainline will be state-run once more from December 12th. No big surprises there, since the decision was made on or before July 1st. Yet a day later, National Express submitted plans to Newcastle City Council to erect electronic barriers in the city's Central Station. They were a condition of National Express winning the franchise in 2007, so it's all a little odd they hand in the application two days after losing it.

Fast forward to last month, and the barriers are put in place, ready to be activated. Except passengers can't quite understand why they're positioned where they are:

Bitterwallet - Newcastle Central Station ticket barriers

Central Station is a major transport hub in Newcastle - it's also on a major bus route and one of the biggest terminals on the Tyne and Wear Metro system. In short - a massive number of people pass through the station every day who aren't catching a train. Despite that, the barriers don't simply prevent access to the platforms, but to cafes, a newsagents and all the cash machines located in the station and the neighbourhood. The only way to use these station facilities, will be to collect a pass from a station member of staff.

There are no details in the plans suggesting the facilities will be moved, nor is there any explanation why the barriers are placed where they are - all proposed, planned and implemented by a train operator that won't exist in a months time.


  • Robin
    There is a similar situation at Sheffield station at the moment - which will involve blocking a public right of way!
  • Chris J.
    I live in Newcastle and agree fully. This is so stupid. Access to the Metro service is not affected but not being able to go to the shop and losing access to FOUR cash points is just bloody stupid, they could have done this much smarter.
  • CompactDstrxion
    They were a condition of NX winning the franchise so blame the DfT and the fare-dodgers.
  • Amanda H.
    I drive a car, I dont care.
  • Tommy J.
    I was wondering about this actually - how much business is that newsagents going to lose through this? Being a Newcastle resident myself, those cash machines always come in handy on a night out, with the alternative being a reasonably long walk up to Monument.
  • Cal
    Lol, I just so happen to be going down to London on the 11th and returning on the 12th with NXEC from Newcastle
  • Askgar
    I'm living in Newcastle now and this is nothing compared to a lot of stations, you can still get to 1/2 of the facilities here. Barriers have been in most stations for years, I'm suprised its taken so long for them to arrive here, although I will agree its annoying, its something many other people have been getting used to for a while and complaining about it ain't going to change a thing. Oh, and if they hadn't errected these barriers they probably would have been fined for breach of contract or something so no real suprise they rushed to do it while they still had time.
  • Paul S.
    Which half of the cash machines can you still get to, exactly? How many other stations on the East Coast Mainline are an intersection for bus, train and metro? Was the committee who put the plans together ever aware of the volume of people who use the cash machines on the evening, weekends in particular, because they're the only cash machines in the vicinity? Complaining probably won't change a thing since they're already installed, but it doesn't mean the complaints aren't valid.
  • Ty
    Ooooh bet this is headline news for the north east.
  • Mr. B.
    no money = no war
    Ticket barriers are coming to my local station soon! However, there is fuck all at my local station besides the whole "getting a train" thing, so it'll make no difference.
  • Dan
    Typically bad whitehall doctarine. Just because it works in London.. impregnate it on the rest of the network. Newcastle Central Station is a tourist attraction in itself and a temple of engineering.. John Dobson will be turning in his grave!
  • Alan
    Driving is cheaper than using trains anyway.
  • Steve
    GOOD, I'm happy that SOME of these bastards are being prevented from custom for their shocking train station prices. WH Smith in Manchester Picadilly charges £1.35 for a packet of Wrigleys Extra! THANK YOU NATIONAL EXPRESS
  • Jo
    Paul, There are a few buses that go from outside the station, but the main bus station is at Haymarket, about half a mile walk away (alongside the other new bus depot outside John Lewis). So to call it the main interchange is perhaps misleading, especially as the Haymarket metro station has just received a multi-million pound refurb, and is probably the busiest one on the network.
  • kingjehovah
    steve,manchester piccadily is pretty much dead central so there is absolutely no reason to use the whsmith in the train station! its only there to play on tourists and people with no common sense.
  • Paul S.
    Jo, I didn't call it "the main interchange" - you did. I said it was "a major transport hub in Newcastle" and "an intersection for bus, train and metro". And I didn't say it was the busiest station on the Metro network, I said it was one of the biggest.
  • Government B.
    [...] it something we said? Probably not, because it seems as if National Express is burning through money faster than a [...]
  • Joe
    "Jo, I didn’t call it “the main interchange” – you did. I said it was “a major transport hub in Newcastle” and “an intersection for bus, train and metro”. And I didn’t say it was the busiest station on the Metro network, I said it was one of the biggest." I realised after I'd posted that you'd not called it the main interchange, apologies for that. Other than the cash machines though, I think this is all a storm in a tea cup - this was something that needed to happen, although the metro barriers need to be done properly too. There is separate metro access other than through the train station, and I'm not entirely sure you need to go through the barriers to get to the station - metro station tunnel, let alone the outside access.
  • Paul S.
    I think it's a pretty big deal Jo - if you go on a weekend, the station is buzzing with people using the facilities there; plenty of them meet there, and hundreds use the cash machines. The nearest cash machine after that is the Centre fo Life - that's in the wrong direction for most people - and then... Monument? At rush hours, tons of commuters hopping off the Metro and buses crab coffee from in there. the point is that the station is more than a place that provides physical access to trains.
  • Joe
    I live in NE2 and i'm inclined to disagree. the HSBC machines at monument are hardly miles away, there's the northern rock machine at the end of clayton street. As i'm sure you're aware, 'central' station is towards the far end of the city, so if anyone was to be meeting there, they'd more than likely be walking back towards town anyway. There are plenty of coffee places and bars just opposite the station, which will be charging cheaper prices anyway. The baguette retailer (forgotten the name) is towards the platforms anyway, not at the station entrance. The metro ticket machines (located in the metro station itself) don't accept notes, and a bus driver won't be too enamoured with a £10 or £20 note. Just not that big a deal.
    • Andy D.
      With all due respect, that's bollocks. You can have a perfectly enjoyable night out in Newcastle and not stray too far from the station. Centurion, Head Of Steam, Union Rooms, Telegraph, maybe up to the Forth. Cash machines? None.
  • Joe
    So let me put this past you. If you were walking towards the station area for a night out, you'd have walked past a cash point anyway? If you had arrived at the station from a train, you'd already be within the barriers. So, unless you've dodged your metro fare/paid with your last earthly £1.30, it's not a big deal. Christ, you mean that you'll possibly have to walk up to a cash point and sample the big market's selection of pubs/takeaways/women on the way? Like I said, storm in a teacup. Then again that's the vast majority of this site in a sentence.
  • Joe
    In fact here you go. 0.3 miles to the Northern Rock cash point just past Clayton Street.,+Newcastle+Upon+Tyne+NE1,+United+Kingdom&daddr=clayton+street&hl=en&geocode=FSDDRgMd9Fbn_ykbMk9XtHB-SDGV02hlyB6KXQ%3BFazNRgMdDVTn_ymvI_kUtXB-SDE-OVP0LLtbcQ&mra=ls&dirflg=w&sll=54.97017,-1.618175&sspn=0.003375,0.012209&ie=UTF8&ll=54.971542,-1.615913&spn=0.003375,0.012209&z=16 or a whole 0.4 to the cash points at grey street,+Newcastle+Upon+Tyne+NE1,+United+Kingdom&daddr=54.972638,-1.61248&geocode=FSDDRgMd9Fbn_ykbMk9XtHB-SDGV02hlyB6KXQ%3B&hl=en&mra=dme&mrcr=0&mrsp=1&sz=16&dirflg=w&sll=54.972023,-1.613703&sspn=0.003375,0.012209&ie=UTF8&z=16 Which, lets not forget, stops you having to cross the very busy road to the station, or piss the taxi drivers off across the zebra crossing within the station building. I apologise in advance if you wanted a night out at the telegraph. next you'll be complaining that you have to walk around and can't scale the station wall.
  • Claire P.
    Cash macines are in the Central Station Metro, new one going in Hero's bar in the station which is accessible (you're all Welcome, also machine along the road at Centre For Life. Barriers only working until 9:30pm apparently and then they are to be opened up until next morning, so late night access for top-ups will be normal. Apparently according to one of the grls at the information point, they had little choice as they were part of their franchise agreement with the government and the City planners decided the end locations because of the National/Railway Heritage boffins
  • Joe
    There you gan then. Christ, can just imagine the editorial on here if/when they start charging for current accounts. BTW you can use the cash points in Gateshead instead, after you've circumnavigated the lift at Central Station.
  • Joe
    Also don't know why my comment didn't show up but it's 0.3 miles to the northern rock near the gate (just off clayton street) or 0.4 to Grey St.
  • Joe
    Still , guess you'll have to scale the wall between the telegraph and the station to keep you happy.
  • Andy D.
    @Joe So nearly half a mile to get some money out? Almost a mile there and back. And uphill half the way as well? In one of Britain's largest cities? Fuck that. But if they're putting them in the Metro station that's okay.
  • Paul S.
    Joe's really got a bee in his bonnet about this.
  • unnamed
    Perhaps you should hire him, he seems bitter about it... Ok i'll get my coat. @ Andy, a whole mile hey? how big are these hills, or are you a two-seat geordie at [email protected]?
  • Mic P.
    Another problem. If they are like the barriers that have appeared elsewhere on the rail system - they will retain the ticket at the end of the journey. I submit the used ticket when claiming a refund of my expenses. The organisation likes used ticket as they show I have made the Journey in a way that the email or the "collect ticket" recipt does not. Not surpised that the new owners - Government - are not going to change. MPs appear not to be good with claiming expenses!
  • PJH
    Not that I suspect that anyone will see this, this late, but there's a free cash machine in Times Square/Center for life, between Twist and Baron and Baroness (Barclay's IIRC, not that it matters much): It's in the red bit of wall here: - 0.2m
  • J. I.
    "For your security " Are they referring to the daily riots on the Station ? "Reduce vandalism" Do they mean the Metro where almost all the windows are diamond scratched ? "Revenue protection" Will it ? I don't think so. A London trip can be initiated with a £2 ticket to Heworth for the determined fare dodger. In short, I think the Adonis team have proved the incompetence which they demonstrated by granting two failed franchises. (I'm being kind to them)

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