Pokesdown Station - A response to SWT

The recent Echo article was disappointing not just because the first statement by South West Trains suggested something that wasn’t true (SWT have not ruled anything out, in fact it is not really their final decision), but it was more disappointing that the PR machine was unquestioned by our local paper. Hopefully we can begin to respond.

Other stations of similar size have received funding
SWT fail to acknowledge that other stations are receiving accessibility upgrades...and it is stations with similar size to Pokesdown that are winning funding. Llandaf in Cardiff is presently undergoing a lift install with Access For All funding, despite being in a much better shape than Pokesdown. 

It’s this fact which is so frustrating. The complete lack of proactivity by SWT means we lose out whilst other stations gain because they have a train operator looking ahead.
llandaff and pokesdown
Is it really such a small station in the "lowest third"?
Pokesdown is not the biggest station, but let’s set a few SWT facts correct. There are at least 60 stations with fewer passengers on the regional network. Unlike many above Pokesdown, there are reasons to suggest these passenger figures are wrong and Pokesdown is much higher up the list.

In fact there’s no debate that passenger numbers are under reported. When challenged at a recent meeting with the claim that probably 50% of passengers passing through Pokesdown are not recorded, we were met with the answer “I wouldn’t disagree with that”. We have been surprised by the number of people who have come to us saying they buy Bournemouth tickets even though they normally use Pokesdown. These are commuters, visitors and one off users - there are all sorts of reasons from poor information to the lack of regular peak trains stopping. These people use Pokesdown Station but their numbers are not recorded. We also know that without barriers, Pokesdown is a hotspot for fare dodging.

So what can be done to count numbers? Install barriers? This is opposed by SWT. They argue it would need to be manned 24 hours a day. We agree it’s probably an unnecessary overhead, but it doesn’t help understand how many people really use the station. SWT initially agreed to install a temporary ‘sensor’. Believe it or not, no action has been taken by SWT despite agreeing to this and to date we have received no response.

It’s also important to note that as access is denied to a large number of users, the uplift in customers is likely to bigger than at any other project. Even Brockenhurst has some limited access prior to lifts.

The elusive ‘free taxi’
Unfortunately the offer of a free taxi from Pokesdown to Bournemouth station was well hidden up to now. There was no display of this at the station. And to date this is still not this has not been done. Having to book in advance is not exactly easy or feasible in this day and age, and we have heard reports of passengers being denied this service. It’s simply not a suitable alternative.

We don’t know why SWT are hellbent on not working with us - yet. We have heard lots of conspiracy theories about their motives. We do know they have not consulted the community (something they are meant to do as part of the Acccess for All deal) and we do know they are sniffing around for some ‘match funding’ before they talk. Arguments about value for money seem to be a smoke screen.

Hopefully this will begin proper dialogue rather than having to listen half truths via the SWT PR department.

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