back to article National Express to 'ban' trainspotting

An almighty war of words has broken out between National Express and The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) over alleged plans to see trainspotters ejected from platforms along the East Coast line. According to the Evening Standard, the TSSA says it was "told at a meeting" that rail aficionados would no longer be …


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  1. gsl

    Platform Tickets

    About a year ago I needed to get to the platform at Leeds station (there's an information booth there). It was 20p for a platform ticket as I remember. Whether I like platform tickets or not, the TSSA are wrong, they exist on at least one of the stations on the NXEC route.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Platform Tickets

    Not quite sure what one person quoted in the article is going on about; you can get a Platform Ticket at leeds. The machine that gives them is right between the two platform entry gates.

    It's about 20p or so; I used them all the time so I could go onto the platform to meet people or say goodbye properly. This was back in 2004 or so.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    reminds me

    The bootnote reminds me of something I heard about Japan Rail having somekind touching up carriage where the woman in it are paid to be viable targets for train letchers. You pay extra to get a letch carriage. It's quite a novel solution - you'd never get it over here.

    Ahh only in Japan. What a place.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Artful Fare Dodgers..

    The Guardian notes that fare-dodgers are "believed to cost the industry five per cent of its annual revenues - or about £270m".

    Not quite Guardian. For the last 10 years, I would estimate 30% - 50% of the commuters on a local stopping train that I use daily travelling - into a City - do not pay at all. I'm subsiding these as I join the train on from many stops before the Terminal City station and the conductor has time to sell me a ticket.

    This scenario of local commuter trains serving Local stations with NO ticketing facilities terminating at mainline stations that are NOT Gated must be a national problem. 5% ??? no where near. Bring ON the Gates at ALL Mainline Stations.

  5. Matt


    I live in a country where there are not gates at train stations. They don't appear to be losing loads of money and even better you mostly get a seat on the train and it runs on time.

    Perhaps the UK should change it's assumption of guilt policy.

  6. paul
    Thumb Down

    Keep off the trains

    At several thousand pounds for a yearly train fare to London and Back from the sticks and/or £120 for a normal return (about £1 a mile) both with the added privileged of being able to sit on the floor as there are never enough seats - WHY DOES ANYONE USE THE TRAINS? Its far far cheaper , faster and easier to drive.

    In addition, the govt giving the rail industry as a whole billions and billions (more than when it was nationalised) - the shareholders / top execs must be on to a big winner.

  7. Martin

    be careful out there

    Force female workers to wear see-through tops and then charge a fiver a head for "blousespotting

    and all those caught looking at them could be looked up under the new porn laws for this non consensual (sic) act

  8. Wokstation

    This is a local station, for local people. There's nothing for you here!

    Most of the stations round here on the East Coast Line are unmanned, which'd make this a bit tricky to enforce. Those that aren't unmanned have large sections of track visible from public land... including level crossings. All they'll do is move the spotters to the unmanned stations and potentially dangerous, un-supervised, areas.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    News to Me!

    Though I am no train spotter I have been issued /free/ platform passes many times in the last couple of years to help family on or off trains when they are travelling with luggage. All you have to do is ask the guard on the barrier for a platform pass and they hand one over. So of course no platform passes have been sold since the demise of BR.

    Seems like someone is on the fast track trying to build up a head of steam and all they are doing is blowing smoke.

    Just the ticket for a Monday morning laugh, and ah I see a light at the end of the tunnel as lunch is fast approaching!

  10. Justin Cottrell

    No Platform Tickets????

    what do you mean there is no such thing as a platform ticket. You can buy one at bognor station. It costs 10p to get on the platform. Other train stations also do them. see . It mentions platform tickets. Although the automated machines dont sell them, you can get a ticket from the ticked booths.

  11. Sandy Scott

    Platform tickets

    Platform tickets are definitely still around - when I last asked if I could go onto the platform to meet someone (admittedly at a South West Trains station) I was just given a grubby grey ticket by the attendant, for free, no further questions asked.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lord Adonis ???

    You jest, surely ?

  13. Bug
    Thumb Up

    Excellent excuse for missing work

    Sorry boss could not get to work as unable to catch the train as the platform is gated off and the ticket office was closed due to staff cuts, out of working hours, or no ticket office as a local country station and the ticket machine had been vandalised, not workiing, etc, etc (choose you own to suit here). So unable to get on the platform or the train.

    Amazing they cut costs (staff, ticket offices, conductors etc), put the ticket prices up and then have to spend more money because of lack of staff to enable that everyone has a valid ticket and a means of getting one.

    Complete muppets, still about par for the course for modern management.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Yes please.

    Then, have an independent due-to-retire government minister (harder to bribe) observe the extra income generated and make sure that the extra income minus cost of implementing and running the gates is reflected in cheaper ticket prices.

    Ah, pipedreams eh?

    Pirates, because they're more likely to give you your money back!

  15. jeffrey
    Thumb Up

    @The Artful Fare Dodgers..

    I recall a 150 mile journey I used to have to make back in the past, it started at a rural station with no ticketing facilities, and ended at a rural station with no ticketing faciliies, With no conductor on the train that I could find, I had several free trips as there was literally no where or no-one to buy a ticket from.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £270m lost to fare dodgers

    Even if we assume this figure is accurate (and not wildly underestimated as I'd hunch), then why not simply employ more station masters (remember them?), ticket inspectors, and ticket sellers??!

    See, all this cost cutting and getting rid of staff over the years and now you have a lot of people who sneak on and off without paying? Well bloody hell, there's a surprise!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Fuss about nothing

    Seeing as trainspotters have to tell the station manager that they're there (for security reasons, so staff know who these people hanging around for ages with cameras and notepads are and what they're doing), getting a platform ticket isn't a huge extra hassle.

    NXEC's insistence on barriers is more to do with passengers not understanding the difference between open and operator-specific tickets; people will often buy a ticket that only covers them on one of NXEC's competitors then board an NXEC train, especially at York.

    Railway enthusiasts hate NXEC for the heinous crime of not being the previous franchise-holder GNER and for re-painting their beloved blue and red trains with old-fashioned crests into NX's more modern grey livery. They've removed some of the loco's names, too, something unforgivable in some eyes. They can therefore do nothing right and must always be criticised.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why newcastle?

    You can just wander around that station if you want - there are no gates, so no platform ticket. I wish there were though - I was sat on a train from there the other day with a £85 return ticket behind some fare dodger who decided that they'd just buy a ticket to York instead of the full distance they travelled (to Manchester).

    Amusingly the conductor found out and they were escorted off the train at Manchester by the BTP. Serves them and their very noisy and annoying child (and their baby who was being fed crisps and tesco pasta salad which is incredibly fatty, and was drinking pepsi! who said good parenting was dead!)

  19. Duncan Jeffery

    Profit a dirty word?

    So often in these types of forums profit is seen as an obscenity. I do wonder where people get theri income from then, or how they intend to retire. They can't work for stste organisations as they would be benefitting from taxes levied on profit. And they obviously are never going to draw pension as that would be funded by profits from investments. Must be great to live on fresh air

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Gates is bad

    <- see pic

  21. Lee Dowling Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Platform Tickets

    My wife occasionally does a bit of mystery shopping. This has involved being paid to go to a Cafe on a station platform at Shenfield and other mainline stations to evaluate their service. This involved the purchase of a platform ticket each and every time. To put this in perspective, she's been doing such jobs regularly for the past five or six years.

    It raises an eyebrow, because they are rarely sold, but they aren't "unavailable" or even that hard to get hold of. You just ask for one. They are also incredibly cheap (especially when the mystery shopper company pay your expenses), and I'm surprised that they haven't been abused yet (i.e. teenagers buy platform ticket if they see a guard at the entrance, hop onto train, get off at a non-guarded station).

    So the claim about the platform tickets is completely false, I feel, and someone hasn't even done the simple homework of *asking* for one at a ticket office.

  22. Peyton
    Paris Hilton

    Learn something new....

    I had no idea this was really a hobby. I've seen the movie of the same name of course, and aside from learning that it can be a reference for heroin use, I assumed it originated as some tongue-in-cheek reference - sort of in the vein of, how the f*** hard can it be to spot a train?! It's big, noisy, and follows (to some extent) a schedule.

    To each their own of course, but yikes - it's tough for me to think how this would be more exciting than reading a book, going for a walk, sleeping....

  23. Steve

    Tainspotters harm their business

    Why would they want people at stations up and down the country slowly compiling a mass of information in private hands about just how many times their trains arrive late or simply don't appear.

    I got to the station this morning and there was no kind of announcement or display that my train was canceled and the guy checking my ticket before going on to the platform even told me "Your train will be at platform 3" - was it bollocks.

  24. Bod


    The real reason for gates is to cut down on the cost of ticket inspectors, combined with the fact that they are reluctant to challenge people on the trains now for fear of being attacked. I don't know if the policy still exists, but some areas in the south east where stations may not have gates (or the gates are open after certain hours), they will not fine you on the train but instead just let you purchase a ticket, because of the risk to inspectors if they kick up a fuss.

    However this brings me to my beef about gates. Gates at Waterloo! Aghhhhh! Since they introduced those there are now huge queues to get on and off a platform, especially as half the gates aren't working.

  25. Andrew Kelly


    They installed gates at Hertford North a couple of years ago. They are only allowed to be operational when they have 2 Revenue Protection Officers (ticket inspectors to me & you) in attendance. When there aren't 2 RPOs around, the gates are left open. This tends to be after 7pm when all the non-fare paying scrotes use the trains.

    Also had an incident a few months ago where an RPO challenged someone on a train who clearly didn't have a ticket. This person got off the train at the next stop and the RPO carried on checking tickets on the train. When asked why he didn't try to get the offender's details and issue a fine, he said that it's not his job to chase after these people.

    Hardly surprising they're losing so much money. Sack all the RPOs and don't put in any more gates - they'll save millions.

  26. Mark
    Thumb Up


    I intend to make this a regular part of my vocabulary.

  27. Peter H. Coffin

    Trainspotters could solve the business

    I'd bet if Steve above had asked some fellow with a camera around his neck and no bags where his train was instead of the ticket agent, he'd have gotten the correct answer instead of "platform 3".

  28. Anonymous Coward

    About time too

    Weirdos spending all day and night (not to mention money) unhealthily compiling data on the comings and goings of things that really don't matter and then sharing the information with their cohorts.

    So it's no surprise that with most local authorities behaving like this now, they've turned on train spotters because their practices tough a raw nerve.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Steam Age

    Even at my little country station although quite busy about 75000 journies either start or end there annually - call it a wild £5 per journey thats nearly £400000. Are these greedy train operators telling me that they can't employ someone part time at this station to cover two peak hours 5 days per week to sell tickets and give advice.. b---cks.

    Sixty years same drafty little tin hut was actually a 5 platform station with many staff, ticket office, waiting rooms with open fires and cafe no doubt. Someone earlier piping on about got to make a profit, well if you think our greedy ,selfish, bring em in from anywhere to get it done cheap policy is making for a better country then ill eat my hat. We are going backwards to benefit the a well off 10% of our nation.

  30. Paul

    Brain ache

    Why should the govt give a toss about fare dodgers- surely it is entirely lost revenue to the train company. What next, the govt gives football teams a grant to stop kids watching through the gaps in the fence?

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Buying a ticket

    Took the train this morning:

    # Ticket office closed.

    # Police tape around the ticket machine

    #Ticket inspector on the train had a broken ticket machine

    So I joined a queue to buy a ticket at the exit barrier from a suddenly overworked inspector there...

    Must be a Monday

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Train staff not wanting confrontation

    Many a time recently on the route between hull and york, there has been a passenger who has been smoking.

    Contacted the conductor - who was more annoyed that they were disturbed from their little 'office' at the back of the train - what did they do? said they'd make a note of it, and shut the door!

    As for people not buying tickets - that's not surprising when the conductor doesn't come round, or when they do, walk straight past!

    A/C cos i need to still get to/from work!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Can't they just use anti-terrorist laws to stop the trainspotters like everyone else does? Strange looking people wandering round with cameras and making notes - they must be up to something?

  34. John Smith Gold badge

    This is clearly an example

    of Lord Adonis flexing his management muscle.

  35. William Towle

    @AC, 11:49

    "Back in 2004 or so"? Quite. Leeds has had barriers installed since then. Several smaller WY stations are due to follow suit, including the unstaffed ones on the Calderdale line and probably others. Whether it's possible to get platform tickets is no longer clear (I've got a season pass and don't need to know). It would be a shame if someone's intentions are misread because they're no longer available.

    As for fare-dodgers, gates aren't really going to help, but then I don't really think that's the point. The barstads just set about barging past you once you've put your ticket in the other side ... and they get to do it -more than before, I suspect- because the barriers mostly seem to serve as a staff-reducing exercise and hardly anybody's there to sort them out late at night (and probably wouldn't want to be).

    Leeds' failure to open the gates when nobody's attending means your footfall opens the gate, you get winded by some ahole barging past, and their footfall ahead of you causes the gates to close in on you. It's not remotely pleasant!

    // venting makes me feel good!!

  36. Dave


    maybe people should learn to read. the article says that they are PLANNING TO REMOVE this facility, not that it has been removed.

  37. MarkMac

    Gated stations

    Fare dodging... gated stations... hmm, lemme see:

    Spend millions installing electronic gates which either eat your paper ticket or reject it, and which can be vaulted over anyway.

    Or employ someone to check tickets as people go through the entranceway. Hmm.

    Which makes more economic sense? How many people can you employ for £270m pa?

    Whose bright idea was it to have unmanned stations anyway? Thats the bloody problem. If there was someone to sell tickets so you didn't hvae to rely on a nearly-always-defective ticket machine, and someone to check tickets in and out, and someone on the train to check them too, how could people dodge fares?

    Brainwave: employ people, reduce unemployment, save money, provide human contact. etc.

  38. Mike Richards Silver badge

    @ Peter R

    'Lord Adonis ???

    'You jest, surely ?'

    Setting aside the fact that with Lord Adonis *someone* is having a joke even if I can't see the funny side. It's all too true: 'Andrew Adonis, Baron Adonis is a United Kingdom Minister of State in the Department for Transport, a role he has held since 3 October 2008.' (Wikipedia)

    As the author Robert Harris once said about this leading New Labour intellectual (sorry, I can't keep a straight face) he's 'more Andrew than Adonis'

  39. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Ticket inspectors

    Many trains don't seem to have them these days; and I suspect one or indeed both of the following reasons:

    1: trains are so grotesquely overcrowded on many routes, the inspector can't physically get through the train, or;

    2: they get so much grief from passengers that they daren't go into the cars - telling people who've spent £x thousand on a season ticket that they shouldn't stand in an exit, or telling others that they should find somewhere to put their luggage other than the tables or aisles when there is no luggage space* - can't do much for morale.

    * no, I have to say it - don't stop me now. What TWAT developed the interior layout of Virgin Pendolinos and put luggage racks in the middle of the cars? Meaning you have to walk half the length of the car down a narrow aisle to stow your luggage, THEN turn around to fight your way through the rest of the crowd trying to do the same???

  40. Anonymous Coward

    gsl/anonymous coward

    The platform ticket machine at Leeds station went some time ago - it was removed to coincide with the installation of the new ticket gates, funnily enough.

    Ticket gates which are the worst I've used anywhere in the UK. The are far too slow to open, apparently too stupid to understand when to retain a ticket and stupidly easy for fare evaders to get through so completely negating the point of the things. Why couldn't they use the same gates as have been in use in far higher volume settings in London for years? Presumably because the crocks they have installed were cheap.

    National Express have been running the old GNER franchise into the ground. GNER's service was outstanding on every level; the only remarkable thing about NX is just how little time it's taken for them to destroy it. (I have commuted more or less weekly Leeds to London for about 8 years, so I've had the pleasure of watching the process first hand.) Sadly BMI have just discontinued the LBA-LHR route, so now NX have a license to sink even further into the mire.

  41. Kevin Whitefoot

    Why not just sell tickets on trains?

    Seems to work here in Norway and worked fine in Sweden last week and Switzerland last year. I just get on the train wait for the conductor and buy a ticket, no drama, no fine. Oh, and of course there is almost always a seat and it's clean and hasn't been vandalised.

    Boffin icon for the benefit of the rail companies.

  42. This post has been deleted by its author

  43. Dave Henderson

    Blouse spotting

    Cool - platform tickets, boobspotting passes and seethrough blouses. What more could a budding rail enthusiast wish for?

  44. Youngdog

    Gated barriers in Leeds - an apology

    I, and many others I'm sure, do have to take some responsibility for this. When I was a destitute student in Leeds back in the early 90's I used to cut the dates out of old Metro cards and stick them on my latest one to form new expiry dates. NEVER got caught. It is only now looking back with deep shame that I realise I was just a smart arse little tosser who ruined it for everyone. I do feel better now I’ve got that off my chest though!

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re:Profit a dirty word?

    Profit is seen as a dirty word when it manifests itself as excessive greed in industries that amount to monopolies and specialise in skinning the public for services they have no choice but to use. A dead give-away is ridiculous levels of executive pay. I've personally yet to see any plus side to the rail privatisation at all (I don't count higher fares as a benefit), so in this case I'd say privatised rail was the ideal poster child for profit as a dirty word.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    Rail Rant!

    No doubt Rail execs are paid enormous amounts of money just like the banks and big corp execs (well perhaps not quite that much!) , for what very little improvement in rail travel at increased cost to the traveller. The shitty train i use is about 30 years old, uncomfortable, rains in and the service is not worth the £50 i pay per week at all, which by the way would be £25 by car! which i'm thinking of going back to.

    When will our smiling leaders get it, no one employee is worth £100's of thousands or millions per year, whether they are an Exec or a Bog cleaner. We are sick of the greed, they cannot justify what they earn. Who the hell needs more than a £100 K per year, no one!. Its just pure bloody greed and ordinary man in street is getting extremely pissed off with the way things are in the UK. Ordinary I mean, not a celebrity, not a bullshitting financier, not a benefit claimant not a criminal or an illegal immigrant, not a druggie, not a piss artist no just a family man that wants to work for a living and support his family. We are being drowned in a sea of bullshit, on the telly with the celebrity weather presenters, mountineers and from the Government and from greedy corporations shafting there employees!. Thats my rant but one for a lot of ordinary people!!.

  47. Mr Ropey

    NXEC Can't ban trainspotters

    What seems to have been overlooked is that NXEC DO NOT OWN any of the stations on the East Coast Mainline, they are leased from Network Rail. Thus a part of the lease conditions they have to abide by NR rules and regulations, one being that "rail enthusiasts/trainspotters are to be accomodated as long as they advice a member of station staff that they are on site, and no act in a way that breaches any safety regulations".

    Having had a major row with the station security gestapo at Bromley South station a few years back when having fulfilled all of the criteria, the Met were called to assist. Whilst talking to the two plods I pointed out the notice at the entrance to station stating that the station was the property of NR and leased to SE Trains.

    Plods radio'd in, duty inspector phones NR, NR confirm excatly what I said, two security buffoons then threatened with arrest for wasting police time! Result, two lovely letters of apology and some vouchers for free train tickets, all station staff (re)issued with guidelines which 90% still seem to ignore!

    As for the RPI's/inspectors not chasing after fare dodgers, I wouldn't either! I am an ex BR employee,. I jacked as I could see from the mess the buses were in 1989 that the railways would end up a shambles! Even then ticket gate staff, RPI s and guards were regularily being assulated. Attacks got so bad on the Waterloo - Reading services that security guards were employed to ride every service train after 1900! That was in 1988 as well, 20 years later its now worse!

  48. John

    Platform tickets exist!

    Anyone who lives near or been to Guildford Train Station knows that platform tickets exist to allow pedestrians to use the station as a cut through from town to one of the towns estates....

    Currently for free but i Imagine it wont be long until they indroduce a small charge!

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