Damn the gods


"Have you seen what's happening out there? Have you even bothered to look?"

"They need to be reminded of the order of things. Turn them on eachother."

"One day, somebody's going to have to make a stand. One day, somebody's got to say enough."

Since we first began writing about the problems of soggy newspapers and absent cash machines, Brockley has made great strides, in many ways.

But one of the most aggravating, retrograde steps is also the most pointless.

The gate to the southbound platform of Brockley Station.

Why oh why oh why?!

Every night, half of the people on every train from London decant when it reaches Brockley. And every night they are forced to walk up the stairs and then down the stairs so they can be processed via the ticket office. Except when someone in the ticket office decides to listen to the desperate buzzing of commuters standing by the gate. Sometimes they open it. Sometimes they don't.

As we stand there, wondering whether we should just start walking to the stairs or hang on for one moment more in the hope they open the gate, we can't help imagining the ticket office as Mount Olympus and the staff, the gods who play with our fates. Will they push their button and let us through - or are they busy seducing Athenian chicks? Who knows?

Because the rules by which they decide to open the gate are seemingly so arbitrary that we never know quite when to give up waiting - which wastes even more time.

If you do throw in your lot with the ticket office, you'll often find commuters backed up down the stairs, as the office struggles to cope with the sheer weight of numbers, which means they throw open the gates anyway, thus rendering the whole exercise (designed to check people's tickets) futile.

Long-term, the station is due to be remodelled. Short-term, TfL, whose own figures predicted that the number of people using the station would treble due to the introduction of the East London Line, need an urgent rethink. The simplest solution would be to keep the gate open in the evenings.

We're going to contact TfL to make them aware of the issue. If you share our frustrations, please post your comments here. If not, then it's obviously just us and we apologise for wasting your time.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. The situation at present is downright dangerous. with people backed-up down the stairs and everyone generally getting very irate with station staff. It's not pleasant.

Monkeyboy said...

Does seem monumentally stupid, the gateline is simply not big enough and cannot be made big enough. You could ask to see their Emergency & Congestion Relief Plan - I expect it just says "open the gates when the customers look like crying" It must be on a 'to do' list but thee are SO MANY urgent jobs being kicked into touch at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Its pretty poor, what are disabled, elderly or those with pushchairs supposed to do?

Anonymous said...

yes dangerous especially on the stairs.Not a nice atmosphere. \just not big enough.

ppp said...

There's been talk about making public services a co-op. I would love the local station to be managed by a mix of users/local businesses and interested parties.

crofton parker said...

I took the train home at rush hour for the first time ever last Weds - on my usual post-11pm trips the office is closed and the side gate is open. I couldn't believe the crush. It was bad enough already, and then a guy started f-ing and blinding at the staff, really really frothing at the mouth, and suddenly it felt dangerous as well. Would not want to be a frail elderly person on those stairs in such an angry seething mob. I'll stick to my later trains.

ppp said...

Oh and you ask
'The gate to the southbound platform of Brockley Station.

Why oh why oh why?!'

Sadly it's one of the gifts of the oncoming ELL.

Brockley Nick said...

@mb - yes, it's fair enough that they have a long list of projects and a dwindling budget. But this is a problem that can be fixed simply by leaving the gate open and swallowing the fact that they might lose a bit of revenue via ticket dodgers (they can't process people properly through the current system anyway, so this would be a negligible loss).

@PPP - not the ELL's fault though really is it. Yes, it's a new policy introduced by TfL but Southern were hardly model owners. And as above, it's a problem easily fixed. The increase footfall caused by the ELL might even force their hand...

Peps Pepper said...

I share your concerns and note that, prior to the change of control from Southern to TFL, the gate tended to be open and staffed during peak hours.

So, I agree that we should make sure TFL are aware of this issue and ask if they can find a short- to medium-term solution.

It remains to be seen but, like the bigger issues surrounding this development, it may be that we can have our ELL extension and eat it.

Conrad said...

No it clearly is ridiculous. The amount they save from fare dodgers would be negligible away compared to the lawsuit for some falling down the stairs because of the overcrowding.

As others have said the atmosphere is really unpleasant with all the pushing and shoving, it makes me dread using the train more than ever.

Monkeyboy said...

That station will contravene every Station Planning guideline going. I should imagine the standards used are very similar to those on the Tube, there are various formulas used to define width of passages and number or gates etc. Also the fact that you exit inta an area where there are peeps buying tickets is not great. Would be interesting to see if you could get details of the planning/design process behind installing the gates? There should have been a risk assesment and some justification as to why they think the risk is kept As 'Low As Reasonably Practicable'(The 'ALARP' condition to use rail jargon)

A freedom of information request perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Completely agree, at the moment when I am travelling I usually have my son with me in his buggy, it's bad enough that I have to cart it down the stairs to get the train north bound but extremely annoying to have to cart it up the stairs in order to get out on the way back when there is no need if the gate was open.

Brockley Kate said...

The current situation is an absolute mess. If they can't install a set of gates and ticket office which are large enough to cope with the volume of people, then they shouldn't force people through the gates/office. It's as simple as that.

I feel really sorry for people who are trying to get to the Platform 1 trains, quite a few times I've seen them being trampled by the flood of people heading in the opposite direction.

Tim said...

I agree it is annoying, but to all those who say it is "dangerous" or "scary", why don't you just hang back for 120 seconds?

Anonymous said...

Should the gate be classed as an Emergency Exit.

Anonymous said...

I'll bring my Bolt Croppers.

b. said...

its a complete nightmare - needs sorting.
2 penneth added.

Ed said...

Thanks once again Nick. I have nearly lost my rag a few times queuing up the stairs only to storm through the luggage gate minutes later.

The other Brockley nick said...

I completely agree. The arbitrary nature is the killer feature -and then when you do get up the stairs to find the gates open is unbelievable!

Not to mention that it is dangerous with so many people squished in to such a small space. Such poor poor planning.

I feel so sorry for little Brockley station, its such a mass of contradictions and cock ups!

We need a new station, built at ground level with entry on to platform 2 where the ticket machine used to be and bridge with lift access to platform 1 once you are in.

Anonymous said...

Tim, try applying the 120 second principle to all public transport in london and see how far you get!

Anonymous said...

Dangerous? Scary?

Hope there's not another war any time soon...

TH Nick said...

Could the problems here (the shoving and sense of danger) not be avoided by people just having a sense of perspective? I mean, having to queue for 2 minutes to get off the station isn't a good reason for getting irate and certainly not for shouting and swearing at the staff.

Brockley Nick said...

@The other Brockley Nick: do you fancy writing this site? You summed the issue up very neatly.

@TH Nick: That would certainly help, I think everyone would agree with you that civility is important, but it's a needless bit of frustration on the daily commute that is only going to get worse as the station gets increasingly busy.

Tim said...

Anonymous: Would I not get exactly the same distance?

Mb said...

TH, yes perhaps. But people don't, in the same way that If people didn't panic on a sinking ferry or burning building they could evacuate quicker. You design in accordance with normal behavior, with the occasional bad temper factored in. It's basic 'human factors' and passenger flow modeling, although it must have been fairly obvious that the current set up was not going to work. I suspect that good sense will prevail eventually.

patrick1971 said...

There was a similar issue recently at both Forest Hill and Sydenham stations, where previously open gates were closed after the introduction of ticket machines, leading to dangerous overcrowding. There was a VERY long thread about it on the SE23 forum; ISTR they got their MP involved and eventually the gates were reopened. So there's precedent!

Thank god for the good sense of Crofton Park and Ladywell :-)

Anonymous said...

I commuted at rush hours to and from Brockley with a pushchair + small child for virtually all of last year. I still do with child, but no pushchair.

Apart from a (ridiculously long) period when it was broken, since the introduction of ticket barriers, I've always had the gate opened when I've buzzed, so some credit to the staff.

Of the many things the station needs, the highest priority should be sorting out access to Platform 1. Despite the really heart-warming friendliness of 99% of other Brockley commuters - I always received offers of help carrying the buggy down - it's totally unacceptable that this is not being addressed urgently before the ELL. It is elsewhere - I think Forest Hill is getting/has got a lift?

Changing the gate opening policy is much easier, though not cost-free if it must be manned. But there is a risk that a lobbying campaign to get this will use up the time and capital that MPs, councillors, TfL, etc are prepared to spend on Brockley, and this will push back resolution of the Platform 1 situation even further.

Any contact with TfL or potential supporters of a campaign should cover all the problems of Brockley Station.

Anonymous said...

100% Agree, even a friends who could be visited have noticed and made a comment... ok 1 friend...

R

crofton parker said...

Wouldn't it actually MAKE tfl more cash if they left the side gate open? I thought that if you don't touch out on your PAYG Oyster, you are 'punished' by the company charging you as if you've gone the furthest distance possible, presumably Zone 6. So if the side gate was kept open, and people didn't swipe, tfl would cash in until people realised and then the situation would sort itself out and we'd have swipes AND side gate and we'd all live happily ever after. Or have I got it all wrong?

quick brown fox said...

Totally agree: it's at best inconvenient and at worst dangerous.

A ground level station with at least half a dozen ticket barriers is what's needed. It's ridiculous to make everyone arriving on platform 2 trek up the stairs, through the ticket office and then back down to street level.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% it is down right annoying. It may also be against disability discrimination laws.

Brockley Nick said...

Thanks for all your comments. I've now spoken with TFL (thanks MB) and they've promised to review the points and come back with a response soon, which is very decent of them. More soon.

Anonymous said...

agreed... let's have the gate open when its busy.

ppp said...

Tonight was a corker with the rain and umbrellas.

BCY said...

I believe this link from Lewisham Council maybe of intrest:

http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/6C367A1A-C57C-4AC2-8186-CB35E0922B3E/0/7f770c00014346eeb2c156c50ba693f3Item13Rail17September2008.PDF

It's amazing what Google and four words bring up in a search: brockley station planning permission

Have fun!

BCY

StuartX said...

The Brockley Cross Action group brought this up at our last Brockley Common meeting with TfL, Lewisham chaired by Joan Ruddock. The senior TfL rep, (name later) was sympathetic. He was left to understand in no uncertain terms that this new policy (to stop fare dodgers) was undermining the whole of the Brockley Common scheme (level access), causing chaos in ticket hall and on bridge and they needed to sort it out fast. Joan Ruddock and Darren Johnson and head of Lewisham's Highways were most supportive.

I think we should pass our views onto TfL: Mark Eaton:mark.eaton@loral.co.uk

Ed said...

Couldn't agree more. Brockley station is the most badly designed station on the line - if not in London! To have mins of my life wasted every day cos the train companies are too tight to sort it out drives me crazy! The least they could do is leave the gate open. What's needed is a new station built at ground level. Even a ticket booth with a large covered area would be better.

ppp said...

I used Peckham Rye station this morning, it was a case of how the other half commute.

At Peckham: 4 mins between trains to London Bridge, planters filled with thriving plants, helpful staff, there was even a cleaner.

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