THE cost of fare dodging at Sheffield rail station could be almost £14 million – seven times what was originally believed – according to the Government.
Transport Minister Norman Baker said although he ‘fully recognised’ concern about proposed ticket barriers blocking access to the station footbridge for non-passengers, the loss of revenue was an ‘important’ issue.
Mr Baker spoke during a House of Commons debate organised by Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield.
He said: “The costs of ticketless travel relating to Sheffield station is estimated at between three per cent and 18 per cent. The sum of £2.3 million a year was given to me by officials and was based on the minimum figure.
“If it were 18 per cent, the amount would be £13.8 million a year.
“We simply cannot allow money to continue to haemorrhage from Sheffield in this way and that a solution needs to be found that captures the lost revenue as a matter of urgency.
“This is money that should be going to the railway to help improve services and, at the moment, it is being lost.
“It is also unfair that many people are paying for their tickets while others are able to travel apparently free of charge.”
Mr Baker said he was ‘fully aware’ of concern at proposed gating at the station and wanted to ‘find a constructive way’ to solve the issue.
Mr Blomfield said: “Established pedestrian routes for non-rail users through railway stations should be respected and protected, not blocked by ticket barriers.
He added: “The bridge that runs through the heart of the station is the only pedestrian route that unites the city.”
Mr Blomfield called on rail companies to ‘make much better efforts to collect fares’ such as deploying staff on platforms at busy times.