Halifax station should get three new ticket vending machines in the near future as Northern installs more and more of its shiny “smartwalls” across the network. Let’s support our staffed booking offices, expanded maybe to offer a wider range of services. More local and tourist information would be a start. Northern seem to be saying they want to develop the role of the booking office. Stations like Sowerby Bridge — at present unstaffed — could get modular buildings for staff to serve the public.
People still want printed timetables. HADRAG has criticised the current Northern style where you need three separate booklets to find the whole Calder Valley Line service. We understand the plan is for a smaller number of area-based timetables. That could be a step forward.
Image: Sowerby Bridge Station (flickr photo by calflier001 https://flickr.com/photos/calflier001/4605598267 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license)
Paper MetroCards in West Yorkshire are now fully replaced by the smartcards. You can top up your MCard with weekly or monthly travel, based on the MetroCard zonal system, at rail station ticket vending machines (TVMs) across the county. But you have to get your original MCard from a Metro travel centre or Payzone outlet (Payzone charges a fee for the card). It’s a shame the full range of Metro tickets is not available at train stations. We’ve asked why—maybe we just have to wait for a technology update? Surely Northern should expand rather than cut the range of retail services. On Merseyside there are station ticket offices that are also shops selling food and travel goods. We welcome news that our train company is to increase station staffing, but await details of how this will work — probably “roaming” staff rather than behind a glass screen. All well and good but surely traditional office or modern “shop-style” retailing of tickets and other travel products remains vital at key stations. Counter staff can serve in a way not easily delivered either by TVMs or by roaming colleagues with hand-held devices.
And, we might ask, is it always easy enough to get the correct fare from the machine? We found Manchester fares on the TVM at Bradford Interchange defaulted to the “any permitted route” prices, valid via Leeds, asking a startling £22.70 for an off-peak day return instead of the £12.10 for the direct route via Hebden Bridge. Finding the cheaper fare involved delving further into options on the machine. Booking office staff can also have the resources to help with complex journeys that can be difficult with on-line booking if you don’t know with the system.
Good new on fares is that quite a lot of off-peak prices went down in September. For example Halifax-Manchester off-peak day return via Hebden Bridge is now £9.90 (previously £11.70).
But off-peak day returns within Greater Manchester all went up!
Header Image: flickr photo by Tim Green aka atoach https://flickr.com/photos/atoach/3994240224 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license