By MERV PAYNE
Northern Rail have issued an apology after Gatley train station customers were issued with penalty fares – despite not being able to buy a ticket for their journey.
Several incidents have been reported where the ticket office at Gatley station is either closed or simply unattended. Whilst many passengers have been able to purchase tickets from a conductor on the train, some who have had to buy one on arrival at Manchester Piccadilly when no conductor is present, have been asked to pay for a fixed penalty ticket.
Alyn Francis travelled from Gatley to Manchester for his son’s graduation and found the ticket office unmanned. He said: “I went into the ticket office and I stood there a minute or so but no-one was there.
“I waited on the platform and kept glancing into the ticket office but nothing seemed to be happening, so I got on the train. There was no sign of a ticket collector so at Piccadilly I saw staff selling tickets.
“I said I needed to buy a ticket from Gatley and he was just about to get the process going when another chap came up to me and said ‘why didn’t you get a ticket?’ I told him there was no-one to get a ticket from and he said he was going to issue me with a fixed penalty ticket.
“They’ve now got my details on their computer system which I’m not happy with” he explained.
Other commuters have received ‘debt recovery’ letters threatening the possibility of legal proceedings, conviction and a criminal record or threatened with ‘legal action’ by inspectors – whilst queuing to buy tickets at Piccadilly.
Ticket inspections at the Manchester station are carried out by a third party company called STM – who took over the contract from Group 4 Security.
A Northern Rail Spokesperson said: “We are aware there have been recent issues at Gatley station and we apologise to customers for this. We have a local team who are currently investigating the problems and will be in touch with the affected customers in the near future.”