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:
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.