TRAIN conductors failed to check passengers’ tickets on 25 of 100 journeys in the region, a report has found.
Thirty-nine of the Northern Rail trips analysed by TravelWatch NorthWest between April and October were made in Cumbria and Lancashire.
The independent passenger group research found customers were ‘largely content’ with their experience, but it was a ‘concern’ that a conductor was not seen and tickets not checked on 25 per cent of journeys.
Northern runs trains on the Settle to Carlisle and Furness lines.
The report said: “This survey of just 100 journeys on Northern trains represents a mere fraction of all the trains which ran during the survey period, but it still gives a realistic snapshot of the good and the bad which the travelling public experience.”
The report acknowledged that conductors were faced with a ‘multitude of conflicting duties all at the same time’, including ensuring train and passenger safety, selling and checking tickets and ‘fitting in’ announcements.
The report went on: “When there are many passengers and unstaffed stations in quick succession the conductor usually has an impossible task.”
It said the conductor issue needed attention to ‘reduce the scourge of ticketless travel’ and reassure passengers that there was a staff presence on the train.
Elsewhere, the research praised Northern for its ‘valiant efforts’ to run services on an old fleet, against a backdrop of an unexpected 40 per cent growth in passenger numbers.
Northern Rail area director Lee Wasnidge said he was pleased passengers were ‘content’ but said there was more they could do to tackle overcrowding.
“Unfortunately, as a result of overcrowding, our conductors can struggle to check all tickets on-board particularly busy services,” he said.
“We have been working hard to give our passengers every opportunity to purchase tickets before they travel with the installation of more ticket vending machines, our online ticket facility and now our new iPhone app.
“This is already helping reduce ticketless travel on our network. It is widely known we have some of the oldest rolling stock on the railway and, as is highlighted in the report, we maintain our trains to the highest level.”