Monday, September 05, 2005

Westcombe Park Station office hours

Proposals by S.E. Trains for changes to local Station Office opening times were raised at a recent Greenwich Council meeting with South East Trains boss, Mike Gibson. Details of the outcome are posted below:

1. The total hours to be covered at Maze Hill and Westcombe Park stations by the booking office or the new platform staff at each station will be at least as many as the booking office is now open. The specific hours will probably be different as South East Trains are anxious to ensure that 'sensitive' times are covered - e.g. school finishing times and late evening.

2. Platform staff will be trained for a number of functions - assisting disabled passengers, ensuring that ticket machines are working, answering the public's queries, dealing with anti-social behaviour. Some will be trained as Police Support Officers with the power to detain. South East Trains are keen that platform staff are more flexible in the duties they undertake than present booking office staff.

3. South East Trains will check the ticket machine at Westcombe Park station following complaints from a number of passengers that it is frequently malfunctioning.

4. If the SRA agrees the proposal, the new arrangements are likely to come in on September/October. South East Trains are clearly intent upon the changes whatever representations they receive as they believe booking office personnel are under-used at many stations and staff will be better employed. They seem to have reached an accommodation with trade unions and recognise that not all present booking office staff will want to change their jobs or will be suitable for the new responsibilities. The company believes that sufficient internal staff can be found for these duties to ensure full staffing from the beginning.

5. It was accepted that booking office staff often fail to keep the offices open at appointed times and that there is therefore a question as to whether or not platform staff will be on duty when they are supposed to be. He believes that unannounced checks by 'flying' managers will be sufficient to deter staff tempted to desert their posts.

6. South East Trains plan to provide both platform and on-train staff with portable ticket machines to overcome the difficulties many passengers have with station machines. However, this is a medium-term plan and it was stated that they cannot put a timetable to its introduction although some idea of the time scale will be given in due course.

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