Relax: we’re talking ticket machines, not football.
On the “town” side of the station there are 5 ticket machines – and up to 3 manned ticket windows. On the “Kippington” side there is only 1 ticket machine. A queue regularly builds up to use the single machine – we have seen a queue of up to a dozen people, stretching down at least to the mid-level landing on the stairs! The barriers are often closed so that people cannot cross to the town side to buy a ticket – and we have reports of people prevented by ticket inspectors from doing so too (technically if you pass the barrier line without a ticket they could fine you). It’s a long walk up to the main road, across the road bridge, down into the taxi area and up into the main station.
Before the refurbishment in 2012 there were 3 machines on the town side and 1 on the Kippington side. Two new machines were ordered. We asked Network Rail to install one new machine on each side, making 4 on the town side and 2 on the Kippington side. They said that they would do so, provided Southeastern agreed – and we pressed Southeastern to agree.
However in the end both new machines went to the town side. We have continued to press Southeastern to move one of the machines to the Kippington side. Now that it has been put in the wrong place we understand the move will cost around £3,500 (which seems a high figure since there is already power and data connection for the existing machine).
We have had a range of excuses from Southeastern why not:
“it would cost £35,000 to buy a new machine”
We’re not asking for a new machine, we’re asking for an existing machine to be put in a more useful place.
“the majority of passengers use the TVMs [Ticket Vending Machines] in the main entrance hall. (there are five there and one on the secondary entrance). It is assumed that the only people who might be inconvenienced are those using the permit holders car park, the majority of whom would hold rail season tickets.”
That shows a lack of understanding the local geography. All users of car parks 1 & 3 (much the largest) use the entrance because it is closest. In addition at least half the local population who might walk are on the Kippington side (for instance in the peak a procession of people walking from Riverhead is common), and much on-street parking is that side. Finally because of congestion in the station forecourt and delays at the traffic-lights there are a lot of “kiss and ride” travellers being dropped off at the entrance to Car Park 1.
“health and safety”
The all-purpose excuse. Long queues for one machine obstructing the stairs does not seem safe either.
“the problems of having two queues not one”
Eh? Why is this not a problem on the town side, where there could be five queues?
“problem of where to store the floor cleaning machine if the old ticket counter was used to house a second ticket machine.”
Eh??? There is plenty of room to place another machine next to the existing one. Indeed years ago, before the computerised machines, there used to be a second one there. It would not require rebuilding. Indeed there is also room for two or more machines at ground level, which would save any queuing on the stairs.
We are continuing to press Southeastern to see the case for moving one of the town machines to the Kippington side.
We would be very interested to hear views of users of the Kippington side – How often do you see queues for the single machine? Has the queue obstructed your use of the stairs? Have you missed a train because of the ticket queue on the Kippington side?