Archive for March 4th, 2009

The Ticket Collector

Wednesday, 4 March 2009


The Ticket Collector’s heading

(Click on the picture to go to the Ticket Collector’s blog.)

The Ticket Collector is a campaigning blog, written somewhat in the style of BTWT and focussed firmly on fighting the worst abuses inflicted upon passengers by Britain’s crazy railway ticketing regime. We applaud this excellent initiative and hope that all BTWT readers who travel by rail in Britain will support the campaign. Here is the entire article which the ticket collector published on January 18. We were going to publish just an extract to give you a taster, but it is so well argued and so pithily written, that any attempt by us at a précis would be to mutilate an excellent piece of work!

Proposed ticket office closures set to reduce choice and increase queues

As you’re probably already aware, several TOCs – notably Southeastern Trains (SET), South West Trains (SWT) and First Capital Connect (FCC), have announced plans to massively reduce staff numbers. SWT tried to claim that the jobs were “management, administration and other roles”, however the BBC revealed that this was not the case (see: Frontline train jobs will be cut). SET made a similar claim. Both SWT and SET claim that “reduced growth” is the reason for this, which is absurd – they are admitting that there is still growth, so why cut staff if their business is still growing? Perhaps they predict that the economic downturn will result in a reduction in passengers in future, and they are pre-empting this now, in order to sustain profits?

SWT proposed massive reductions in ticket office opening plans, these plans were “mostly” rejected (see: Cuts to ticket offices rejected), but the fact remains that some closures are going ahead. FCC are proposing draconian reductions (see: Move to stop ticket office cuts ) which prompted the RMT to launch a campaign against the cuts.

Whenever I visit Waterloo or Victoria stations, the queues for purchasing tickets are enormous – surely they should be increasing staff, at stations such as these, not reducing them?!

So what does this mean for passengers? Well, the TOCs think that people should buy online, use ticket machines, and – in the not too distance future – use smartcards for journeys in the London area, therefore less staff are needed to sell tickets. But at many stations I see ticket machines with no queues yet passengers choose to queue to speak to a real person.

It is now the case that, in order to get good value fares over certain routes, splitting tickets may be necessary. Or, in order to get fares down from extortionate levels for ‘InterCity’ journeys, you have to book in advance. Or maybe you want to purchase a Rail Rover/Ranger.  Or a group may wish to take advantage of GroupSave discounts. These products are not available from machines.

We at theticketcollector do not want to see any job losses, nor any reduction in ticket office opening hours. But if the TOCs are to press on regardless, then they should at least be forced to allow the purchase of the entire range of walk-on fares from ticket machines, and that includes all rovers/rangers, all discounts including GroupSave, all add-ons including PlusBus, and purchasing tickets from any destination to allow combinations to be bought.  And all this must be implemented before any TOC is permitted to proceed with any of their proposed cuts. Anything less is simply unacceptable.

The Ticket Collector has added BTWT to the TTC blogroll. We are delighted to reciprocate.

Two sides of Lodz Kaliska

Wednesday, 4 March 2009


The West side from the North.


The Eastern Viaduct, gantries, but no tracks


The East side from the North


From the air looking South
From a photo by Hodowca

(Click to see original and details of licensing.)


The Eastern viaduct looking South

The Eastern and Western viaducts. Google Maps

(The picture can be enlarged, zoomed, scrolled or switched to map view.)

Lodz Kaliska Station is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma. A 20 year long rebuilding project was suddenly terminated just before its completion. The old station, an attractive building in the art noveau style, was built in 1902 for the broad (Russian) gauge Warsaw – Kalisz Railway.

The construction of a new station commenced in 1985. The project was jointly financed by Lodz City, Lodz Province and PKP, and managed by PKP’s construction office in Warsaw, by-passing PKP’s Estate Office in Lodz. Predictably, like all major PKP construction projects, the work missed successive completion deadlines and ran massively over budget. Then, in 1994, after all the new infrastructure work was complete, the project was suddenly terminated leaving the virtually complete facilities on the East side abandoned.

A massive viaduct across Al. Bandurskiego was left uncommissioned without even sealing the concrete deck against penetration by water. A tunnel providing direct access from the station hall to the bus station was simply abandoned. Now trees and vegetation cover the former building site which looks like more like a bunker from WW II than a building site abandoned in 1995.

Perhaps, if the planned high speed line across Poland ever gets built, Lodz Kaliska will one day be completed.