Fringe Box



Letter: Are SWR’s Claims About Bridge Access Credible?

Published on: 2 Nov, 2023
Updated on: 2 Nov, 2023

From: Ben Paton

In response to: Pedestrian Access to Guildford Station Footbridge To Be Withdrawn

1. The bridge etc is presumably owned by Network Rail.
2. Network Rail is owned by HMG
3. SWR has a franchise agreement to operate the railway station presumably.

Why would GBC and Network Rail acquiesce in SWR reducing its public service?

Where is this ‘study’ available: “A study commissioned by SWR in November 2022 found that almost 2,000 bridge passes went missing in just 25 days. It is estimated that improper use of the bridge passes has led to hundreds of thousands of pounds being lost through fare evasion.”

What is the evidence that 2000 bridge passes went missing in 25 days, ie 40 each day?

If SWR managed to lose 40 bridge passes every single day it does not suggest that it is competent or that its systems are adequate.

How does a bridge pass ‘go missing’?

Rather than withdraw the service from the public, surely SWR should be held to account.
For starters it should disclose its ‘study’ and how it calculates the alleged fare loss of ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’. Is it credible?

Is there an ulterior motive?

And what happened to the borough and county councils’ policy of “Modal Shift”? Aren’t they saying that people should walk and cycle?

How does closing a footbridge assist walking and cycling? Or get people off crowded roadside pavements?

A spokesman for SWR responded (a link to the study referred to in Ben Paton’s letter was requested but not supplied):

Network Rail own the station, but it is co-managed by Network Rail and ourselves.

I believe all the relevant information of our trial in November 2022 is covered in the “Notes to Editors” section of the press release:

Notes to editors

The agreement between the British Railways Board and Guildford Borough Council, pursuant to Section 52 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 and Section 33 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, came into effect on 25 March 1988.

The route through the station is not (as has sometimes been suggested) a Public Right of Way; access is allowed through a condition of this planning agreement. Given that the route is not freely open 24 hours a day (closures for some of each day, during disruption or industrial action etc.) it is also not a permissive path or subject to claims for adoption as a Public Right of Way.

The November 2022 study monitored the use of test-specific bridge passes and also counted the number of pedestrians passing in and out of the station.

Across the 25 days of the study, the number of bridge passes were compared to the number of pedestrians counted. Data was collected between 0600 and 2200, Monday to Saturday, and between 0930 and 1730 on Sundays.

A total of 1,787 bridge passes were lost, an average of 71 per day. Each pass has a nominal value of £5 and across 25 days this led to a loss of £8,900. On an annual basis this would equate to around £130,000.

If fare evaders travelled from Guildford to Clapham Junction, which would normally cost £12.10, this would be £21,600 in 25 days, or around £316,000 per year. If fare evaders travelled to Portsmouth, which would normally cost £23.60, this would be £42,200 in 25 days, or around £616,000 per year (2022 prices).


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Responses to Letter: Are SWR’s Claims About Bridge Access Credible?

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    November 2, 2023 at 12:11 pm

    The last two paragraphs in the notes provided to editors are utter nonsense. I’ve just spoken to SW trains and there is no charge to cross the bridge, so there is no nominal cost of £5.00 and the rest of the figures simply collapse at that point! I can’t purchase a bridge pass as apparently they simply dont exist. Unless the man I spoke to has it totally wrong.

  2. David Ogilvie Reply

    November 2, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    Surely many people use the bridge to get from one side of Guildford to the other as a shorter and safer crossing than on the road bridge. In these cases no fare is lost.

  3. S Callanan Reply

    November 2, 2023 at 1:04 pm

    Would the spokesman for SWR now tell us:

    1) Why the results of a survey carried out in November 2022 were not published until October 2023?

    2) The number of pedestrians in comparison with the number of bridge passes?

    3) Where the “nominal value of £5” for a bit of plasticised paper comes from?

    4) How all the numerous fare evaders travelling from Guildford to Clapham Junction or to Portsmouth in the example would be able to leave those stations undetected and unchallenged?

    • Pete Reply

      November 3, 2023 at 8:42 pm

      It’s simple, this is just as with all SWR initiatives a cost saving exercise, why they can’t be honest I don’t know. They don’t care about community, friendliness, customer service – they are a monopoly that doesn’t need to try and the bridge is an inconvenience that they can do with our. They are an example of all that is wrong.

  4. Ben Paton Reply

    November 3, 2023 at 10:52 pm

    So where is this ‘study? Why is it not published?

    What is a ‘test-specific bridge pass’?

    This statement is as clear as mud: “A total of 1,787 bridge passes were lost, an average of 71 per day. Each pass has a nominal value of £5 and across 25 days this led to a loss of £8,900. On an annual basis this would equate to around £130,000.”

    What’s the answer to the question asked: “Where the “nominal value of £5” for a bit of plasticised paper comes from?”

    On an ‘annual basis’ this ‘study’ asserts that 1,787 x 14.6 “test specific bridge passes” are lost a year. They try to imply that some 26,000 people are jumping over the ticket barriers along the route. That’s 71 jumps every day of the year including weekends.

    Really? Is there any evidence on Network Rail’s CCTV to support this?

    Or is this baloney?

    Is this perhaps connected with the Solum Development?

  5. R Bowen Reply

    November 4, 2023 at 9:33 am

    I use the bridge to travel from one side of the station to another side. There is no loss of revenue. I understand that SWR are more concerned about people buying cheap tickets on line. How would closing the foot bridge prevent this?

    The answer may be that if public access is stopped SWR thinking staffing costs can be reduced.

  6. Peter Julian Sheppard Reply

    November 4, 2023 at 2:58 pm

    I remember the “test-specific bridge pass” – a little bit of paper that was issued for a short time. I also remember there not being anyone at the other end collecting it. So, it’s not surprising to me that some went missing.

    Are the only ones dodging fares and causing abuse ‘bridge users’?

    Do fare-dodgers get on (or off) at the unmanned stations and just claim to be using the bridge?

    SWR assumes that fare-dodgers/fake ‘bridge users’ are travelling to/from Clapham or Portsmouth, where they are more likely to encounter barriers. That seems unlikely to me.

    The logical extension of SWR’s solution to abuse is to bar access to all stations 24 hour per day.

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