Station footbridge row concessions

A SERIES of concessions have been announced as part of controversial plans to install ticket barriers on Sheffield train station's footbridge.

They were revealed when Sheffield Council's chief executive John Mothersole met with Tim Shoveller, managing director of East Midlands Trains, which runs the station and says the barriers are needed to cut down on fare dodging.

The company says it will:

n Provide free 'smart cards' which residents and other people who walk across the bridge can apply for.

n Allow elderly, disabled or people with young children free passage across the bridge without a smart card or ticket.

n Let Supertram passengers across with a valid ticket and allow tram tickets to be purchased on the station concourse at the Sheaf Square end.

Mr Shoveller said: "I'm sorry for all the frustration this has caused, which was never our intention. We have listened to and worked with people concerned about the matter to develop solutions, and want to move on."

He added the company needs barriers because a substantial proportion of ticket revenue is lost through fare dodgers on short journeys such as between Sheffield and Chesterfield.

But the company said the scheme is not yet a done deal - and further discussions will continue to resolve the issue.

Mr Mothersole said he did not yet want to comment on East Midlands Trains' offer.

Residents were unconvinced about the train firm's plans, however.

Geraldine Roberts, of Stafford Road, Norfolk Park, said: "This demonstrates Mr Shoveller accepts all the groups of people have a right to use the station, which is an important recognition.

"But I don't think it would work satisfactorily for us - we shouldn't have to apply for smart cards to continue to do something which, given the amount of public money spent, we should have a right to do."

She said that if the card scheme did go ahead, Sheffield Hallam University and Castle College ID cards should be made compatible with the barriers to allow students through and that cards should be sent out automatically to residents without them having to apply.

Coun Bryan Lodge, Labour shadow cabinet member for transport on Sheffield Council said his party - which includes four of the five city MPs - remains opposed to any barriers whatsoever.

He said: "We are opposed to the barriers but I would like to see further details of how these proposals could work."

Paul Scriven, Sheffield Coun-cil leader, said: "Although I'm pleased that East Midlands Trains have recognised some of the concerns raised, I believe any measure which includes gating is unacceptable."

"I have no problem in East Midlands Trains taking measures against ticket dodging. However, I believe they should look at alternatives that don't involve inconveniencing local people. The Council remains opposed to gating the station."

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