The Gates of Hell

Well, that’s it. I can’t bear it any longer. I’ve finally snapped, and what you’re about to read is the result of several weeks of frustration.

What is the subject of my ire you ask?

The ticket gates at Leeds City Station.

Now, for those unfamiliar with them, these are automatic ticket barriers – you put your ticket or season ticket into the front, the glass gates open and your ticket comes out of the top (or they keep it if it’s a single – the barriers still accept old tickets as far as I know and we don’t want you using them again do we).

In an ideal World, the above procedure is what is meant to happen every time you pass through the barriers.

What actually happens is the barriers take your ticket for a few weeks, then for no apparent reason whatsoever, they begin to take a dislike to them.

To start off with they’ll just spit it back out at you once.

Then as they get more and more angry with you, they take it in and out, in and out, in and out, with the sort of violence normally reserved for stabbing scenes in horror films, until your poor defenceless ticket gets spat out, finally, onto the floor like a used piece of chewing gum.

You then have to fight your way to the floor to rescue your ticket amongst several hundred other commuters who are experiencing the same thing.

You must then join another queue to wait to be let through the barriers by one of the ‘friendly’ barrier staff. This is also a wonderful experience, which I’ll enlighten you with….

The sole purpose of the barrier attendant is to stand at one of the barriers and use a magic Oyster Card style pass to open the barriers after checking the tickets manually. I accept this is probably not the best job in the World, but the level of customer service experienced has to be seen to be believed.

Over the last few months,the following has occurred:

  • Staff have told me I can use my ticket in the barrier don’t I know, as if I’m just being stupid and hadn’t realised the season ticket I’ve been using for 4 months actually goes through the barrier machine. My answer is always the same – it doesn’t work and do you think I’d bother queuing up if it did?
  • One gentleman took my ticket off me, took it out of the wallet it’s kept in and tried to put it into the machine himself. This lead to a minute of awkwardness as we both stood there whilst the machine did its Jack the Ripper impression, chewed my ticket to bits before spitting it out onto the floor. He let me through eventually, but I nearly missed my train.
  • This evening the man didn’t even say anything – he simply looked at my ticket, paused for a moment, and then raised his hand as slowly as he possibly could, pausing again mid-way through the manoeuvre, before deliberately very slowly pressing his pass to the sensor on the gate. He couldn’t have taken the piss any more if he tried.
  • Two days ago I was let through, but the gate shut on me as I was halfway through and trapped me knee and my wrist. Have you ever had some heavy automatic glass gates shut on you? No? Let me tell you – it fucking hurts. I would have complained there and then, but I had a train to catch and a home to go to.

So Network Rail, what are you going to do about this? We’re told there are moves afoot to introduce Oyster Card technology Nationwide, but there seems to be no sign of it up here yet.

I’m currently only 4 months into a 12 month pass which cost me £1500 – fifteen hundred fucking pounds – and it doesn’t fucking work.

In the meantime until the Oyster technology is introduced (shortly after Hell freezes over maybe?), might I suggest the following – either:

  1. Sort out the issues with your gates or your tickets, or;
  2. Think about employing some customer facing staff who don’t have the interpersonal skills of Kim Jong-un.

In the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that – and yes, as seeing as you asked so nicely, I have had a bad day.


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