06 April 2008

Good News ... BUT ...

We’ve recently learned from Southern Railways that when Oyster readers come into operation at Forest Hill Station in January 2009, the gate to Perry Vale will be kept shut throughout the day, only opening during evening peaks. From 3pm until the end of the peak, members of staff will be on hand to read everyone’s oyster card with handheld readers.

This system would inevitably create delays for passengers exiting at Perry Vale. We also question whether staff would be willing to stand in the rain, snow, or freezing/boiling temperatures for hours at a time with trains every five minutes. In reality, this system is likely to lead to the gates being closed all day.

The Forest Hill Society, along with Councillor John Paschoud, is putting pressure on Southern Railways and others involved in the Oyster implementation to avoid shutting the gate. There are two alternatives that we would prefer:

1. Oyster reader available at the Perry Vale exit for pre-pay customers to swipe in and out, similar to the system in place until recently at New Cross Gate. This would allow the exit to remain open as it does today.

2. A new exit onto Perry Vale car park providing staffed ticket barriers all day and an accessible entrance to the station on the Perry Vale side of the station.

Further problems will occur at Sydenham and Brockley where the exits on the northbound (Sydenham) and southbound (Brockley) platforms will be remotely operated for disabled passengers only. Of course, once these gates are opened there will be nobody to stop other passengers flooding through the gates. Honor Oak Park station should be fairly straightforward as a single set of barriers can be placed in the ticket hall.

Definitely one to watch.

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