Bux­ton guards keep busy

Rail (UK) - - Let­ters -

I am an oc­ca­sional user of off-peak ser­vices be­tween Bux­ton and Manch­ester, and wish to record that my ex­pe­ri­ence is dif­fer­ent from that found by Steven Beesley ( Open Ac­cess, RAIL 839).

As a mainly leisure user, I am of­ten on the first off-peak ser­vice from Bux­ton. In­vari­ably, the guard is on ticket check­ing/sell­ing duty all the way from Bux­ton to Hazel Grove. There are of­ten pas­sen­gers on this train who take ad­van­tage of the abil­ity to talk with the guard, for re­as­sur­ance about their travel ar­range­ments.

As a ca­sual ob­server, I would sug­gest that the main prob­lem with the ar­range­ment is the need for the guard to re­turn to the rear cab to op­er­ate the doors on both the Class 150 and Class 156 units used on this line.

If the guard is in the mid­dle of a ticket trans­ac­tion when a sta­tion is en­tered, there can be at least a 30-sec­ond de­lay (if not longer) be­tween com­ing to a stand­still and the doors open­ing. Thus, there is of­ten a need to make use of the

re­cov­ery time built into the timetable at Hazel Grove.

To keep to time (and pos­si­bly to re­move the re­cov­ery time), there would seem to be three po­ten­tial so­lu­tions:

The guard does not check/sell tick­ets. The driver op­er­ates the doors. The units are mod­i­fied to al­low the guard to op­er­ate the doors from any door on the unit.

We do seem to de­fault, on oc­ca­sion, to the first so­lu­tion on peak trains from Manch­ester to Bux­ton (the other so­lu­tions not be­ing cur­rently avail­able).

How­ever, I sug­gest that the chance of fare eva­sion in this di­rec­tion is less likely than go­ing to­wards Manch­ester, as most pas­sen­gers without sea­son tick­ets are prob­a­bly us­ing the sec­ond part of a re­turn ticket. The ex­tra de­lay at each sta­tion, as the guard makes his way through a throng of stand­ing pas­sen­gers, might also be ex­ces­sive and could af­fect the run­ning of other trains be­tween Pic­cadilly and Hazel Grove.

As the Bux­ton-Manch­ester tim­ing is vir­tu­ally the same as the first-gen­er­a­tion Class 104 DMUs (two out of three cars pow­ered), it would seem that cen­trally con­trolled doors may have im­proved safety, but not per­for­mance.

Thirty-five years ago, the Sun­day hourly ser­vice was run re­li­ably with two units. To­day, we re­quire three units for the same level of ser­vice! And we do miss the won­der­ful views of the Peak Dis­trict out of the front win­dows. Ron Sin­clair, Bux­ton

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