REPORTER Dale Haslam continues his regular blog on his daily train commute in and out of Bolton
PICTURE the scene. You arrive to get your train to work and know you will be late if you miss it.
And just as you are about to board, four ticket inspectors surround you and order you to buy a ticket — and you have never seen such inspectors there before.
This is what happened to me — and scores of others — last Thursday morning at Chorley station and it left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
For one thing, I always pay for train tickets on the way to work. It is impossible not to because of strict ticket checks on trains and at Bolton station.
Sadly, the team of Northern Rail ‘revenue protection officers’ did not see it that way. For those unfamiliar with Chorley station, there are two entrances, one with a ticket office and one with a ticket machine and it is perfectly fine to use both.
Comically, the inspectors were preventing people from walking to the ticket machine and then interrogating them on their lack of a ticket.
“Why didn’t you buy your ticket from the ticket office?”, “You should have a ticket already”, “It’s not my problem if you’re late for work, pal.”
Eventually, they let me on and I arrived at work on time and paid on the train, but it was an irritating start to the day. There is seldom an excuse for poor manners.
I can imagine that the inspectors are used to dealing with unfriendly and abusive characters, but it irks me that they then treat others with a tone approaching outright hostility.
Northern Rail paints itself as a ‘happy to help’ kind of company and, mostly, it is. But hostile inspectors run the risk of scuppering those efforts and alienating customers if they forget to be polite.