I had the unnerving and dispiriting experience of trying to buy a ticket for a train at Chichester station on Saturday.
I have been a resident of Chichester for nearly 30 years now and am a business owner who travels up to London regularly during the week. The recent record of train punctuality has been really poor, which has affected our business but at least during the week the station in Chichester is well staffed with knowledgeable and helpful people.
This Saturday, the station ticket office was closed and the whole station was essentially unstaffed and yet very busy.
Only three of the four ticket machines were working and the queues for these stretched across the entrance to the station on what was a wet and windy weekend.
Moving the ticket machines would at least allow people to enter the station without dodging through the queues but the point is that unmanning Chichester Station on a Saturday afternoon is a backwards step for humanity. I know this sounds like an hyperbolic statement but Chichester Station is a gateway to our city and as such is an integral part of our community and identity. Train travel should be encouraged for so many reasons, including reducing our carbon emissions and taking traffic off the roads. The lack of staff at Chichester Station at weekends does not do this. It gives the impression to visitors of a ‘Nowheresville’, uninspiring town, and anyone who wants to travel by train is made to feel like a second-class citizen.
There is an insidious trend in society at the moment to forget value and focus on reducing cost. Of course there is a cost to manning busy stations like Chichester at the weekends but the value in terms of return on investment (ROI) to us as a society and Chichester in particular will be the positive impact that this has on well being and visitor numbers etc. which in turn translates into a positive economy.
We need a strategic rethink to what sort of a future we want in Chichester. I am not sure that we can consider ourselves to have a sustainable and vibrant city if our train station is not staffed at weekends to welcome visitors and help travellers.
Richard Sabin, Graydon Avenue, Chichester