Seems like East Midlands Trains (EMT) may have had a change of heart about the introduction of barriers to prevent pedestrian access through Sheffield Station.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive‘s (SYPTE)most recent annual survey (October 2010) on use of the station footbridge suggests that 60,000 pedestrian trips take place through the station each month by people not making train journeys.
We understand that Sheffield City Council Officers are in talks with EMT about a Voluntary Walkway Agreement which would recognise pedestrians right to use the footbridge through the station without carrying a rail ticket. Significantly, EMT’s operating franchise expires in 2015 and the next round of franchises will be awarded for a 20 year period.
In the meantime, it’s important that people continue to express their right to walk across the station footbridge when travelling between Norfolk Park, Park Hill, Sheaf Valley Park and Sheaf Square.
There are no Compulsory Ticket Areas at Sheffield Midland Station and therefore, according to the Railways Act 2005 and Rail Bye Law 17, you are free to walk through the station to and from town without a ticket provided you are not intending to travel by train.
The footbridge, which is open throughout the day and for much of the night time, is a vital and valuable public asset that provides a safe route to and from town. There are not many issues in Sheffield that can be said to have united public opinion so effectively! Nearly everyone save for EMT recognise the fact that closure of the footbridge to pedestrians would be a retrograde step.
Remember it’s our station and our bridge!
The Residents Against Station Closure (RASC) group are planning a further demonstration at Sheffield Rail Station at 4.30pm on Friday 24th September 2010. Everyone is welcome to support the demonstration, which has all party support, with speakers including Labour’s Paul Bloomfield MP, Paul Scriven, the Liberal Democrat Leader of Sheffield City Council and Jillian Creasy from the Greens.
The demonstration has been prompted by East Midlands Trains (EMT) increasing the frequency of “human barriers” to block the pedestrian footbridge through Sheffield Rail Station and are provoking local residents, who are increasingly frustrated by their antics. RASC were appalled to learn that 45 people who were “cautioned” trying to cross the bridge at Sheffield Station on 2nd September. Press Officer Graham Wroe commented, “EMT’s behaviour is completely outrageous. They have no authority to stop pedestrians crossing the bridge, as Sheffield Station is not a Compulsory Ticketing Area. It is EMT that should be cautioned for obstruction.
Keith Hayman, chairperson of RASC commented, “We will continue to peacefully assert our right to cross the footbridge. We do not condone abuse of EMT staff, neither do we feel they should abuse the public. Many reports we have received over the months indicate that the abuse has come from EMT staff. We question the role played by British Transport Police who supported EMT staff rather than the public and their rights. We will be writing to them to ensure that in future they take account of the rights of the pedestrians.
The bottom line is, EMT must not be allowed to continue to obstruct our footbridge!”
Sheffield Civic Trust recently made representations to the City Council to support the protection of this vital pedestrian link between Park Hill and the City Centre. RASC are also lobbying Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, to instruct the Transport Minister to change the franchise agreement with EMT so that the Sheffield footbridge is permanently open to pedestrians.
On Thursday 9th September, the City Council’s Transport Sub committee decided to set in motion the establishment of a Public Right of Way. Both RASC and Sheffield Civic Trust fully support the City Council’s resolution to permanently protect this vital pedestrian route through the city which has universal support of local residents and, indeed, all other key stakeholders.
The Sheffield Development Framework (SDF) Draft City Policies, Sites and Proposals Map are available for consultation up to midnight on 31 August 2010.
Amongst other things, the documents propose housing, employment and flexible use allocations in all parts of the city.
SCT is extremely concerned that Proposed or to be improved walking routes on the Proposals Maps do not, at least as yet, include the vital pedestrian link through the rail station which connects Park Hill with the City Centre.
Your comments are invited now. Don’t lose this chance to register your views! The documents can be viewed through the City Council’s website www.sheffield.gov.uk or at local libraries.