Well, my post about ticketless travel seems to have stirred up a hornets nest. In view of that, I will devote the majority of this post to respoding to points raised in comments.
Firstly, however, Lee, the rest of your questions. The latest Severn Beach usage figures have not yet been obtained, nor has the Severn Beach Line Development Plan been updated. This is work in progress.
There is no immediate prospect of a Clifton Down turnback service due to lack of funding from Bristol City Council as they are focusing on Avonmouth. The problem from our end lies in the fact that the services they have elected to focus on will be at a lesser frequency than if we could run some services only as far as Clifton. Therefore, at present, the proposal for a Clifton Down turnback signal has been dropped and can only proceed if Bristol City Council wish to fund it.
Finally, the new fare structure was discussed with the Severn Beach Line Working Group at two seperate LWG mettings several months apart and both times received universal support.
I hope that this is of use.
Now, responses to the Fare's Fair issue. Tim made several points and so I will number them as he did. (Please see the comments to Fare's Fair if you're interested in the questions).
1) Agreed, and I'm not entirely sure why it is done this way apart from ATOC regulations and I have no idea why they chose to set it up like this.
2) The barriers retain the tickets to prevent fraudulent re-use if, for example, the tickets were not checked on the train and therefore not stamped. Talk to the staff and if you tell them you need to keep the tickets, they'll let you through the manual barrier. Your suggestion is interesting but not cost effective.
3) The reason this is doone is because ticketsless travel on a long distnace HST costs more money than on a short run commuter service, as long distnace tickets are more expensive, even taking into account the larger number of passengers (generally) on a commuter train. When the oyster scheme comes in in 2009, the whole thing will be gated.
4) I'm not sure when and if we have ever claimed that, but if so, it's a dumb thing to say. The barriers are left open because there may be no staff around to help people who get stuck. o say that they prevent antsocial behaviour is silly.
5) It is annoying that you now have to get a ticket in advance and I appreciate that it adds time to your journey. It may well discourage people. It has become necessary though and I am sure that if I can guess the answer if I asked you if you were prefer and extra 10% on your journey time or an extra 10% on your fare.
6) Good point. I would add that FGW cary a lot more people on an intercity train than Heathrow Express do on theirs. However, I feel that the barriers add that extra bit of security for the times when the Train Manager is not able to get round the whole train. I also think that FGW is focusing on the wrong area. On a short trip, with only 2 or 3 minutes between each station, the TM is spending most of his time preparing to deboarding at the next station. That is when barriers become most needed and most effective. However, as I mentioned, FGW are concerned with the more expensie journeys and want to make sure that nobody trravels without a ticket.
7) I've been quite involved at various times with injuries incurred on trains and at stations and truthfully, I can say that I never come across an injury caused by rushes at barriers. I do agree, however, that the short notice given when announcing departure platforms is a problem, especially at Paddington, where platform changes are frequent and short notice often unavoidable. There is no easy solution to this one as it is a product of the rail network as a whole but there are plans in the works to increase the notice provided to passengers.
Finally, we get to the anonymous poster, who felt that my statement: "It does seem officious at times and we would not need to do it so much if we could guarentee that a TM would be able to check tickets but we can't at the present time," was an admission that we couldn't control our staff.
I disagree, as you might expect. I'm not going to go into the ins and outs here of all the things that the TM has to do on a train, maybe later, but it is not as simple as 'tickets aren't checked because the Train Manager is lazy.' Far too black and white. Sometimes it's true and sometimes the TM is hiding because he does not want to face the collective righteous indignation of a delayed commter train, but equally, sometimes, he's just busy. There might be a problem he is called to sort out, and incident on the line, a problem passenger and many other things. I doubt I can convince you with this short commentary so youmay have to trust me for a while, but you are somewhat wide of the mark.
That's all for now. Back later to pre-answer your complaints about the signal failure.