Right ticket – right train
Following nationalisation of Britain’s railways in 1948 passenger services were provided by a single operator – British Railways; re-branded British Rail in 1965. This simplified ticketing arrangements. Passengers needed to ensure their ticket was valid for their chosen time and route of travel but all trains were operated by the same organisation. This continued to be the case for over 40 years until the privatization of BR in the 1990’s. Thereafter passenger services were once again provided by a number of different train operating companies. In some instances trains run by different companies operate from shared stations or between the same destinations. Passengers are generally required to hold a ticket for travel on the train of a particular company. If travelling on the train of a rival company over the same route their ticket might not be valid. It took the public some time to grasp this new arrangement and in the initial period, after the break up of BR, it was not uncommon for passengers to board the train of a company not matching their ticket. This was history repeating itself as illustrated by the documents presented here:
Guide Bridge Station: Passengers using wrong trains – 1885
Passengers Travelling in LNWR trains with MS&LR tickets.
Over 100 years ago the staff at Guide Bridge were under fire from their accountant for “allowing” passengers to board and travel in London & North Western Railway (LNWR) trains with Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR) company tickets. The Guide Bridge Traffic Dept put up a robust evidence based defense.
This Railway Clearing House map from 1912 illustrates the complexity of lines in this area just east of Manchester.
The LNWR lines are shown in red. By this date the MS&LR had changed its name to the Great Central Railway (GCR) whose lines are shown in pink. It can be seen that LNWR lines arrive at Guide Bridge from the south but their trains then have to run over MS&LR/GCR lines as far as Stalybridge before regaining LNWR tracks towards Leeds.
The following are transcripts of correspondence between William Pollitt Esq, the MS&LR Company’s Accountant in Manchester and the staff at Guide Bride; and their colleagues at adjacent stations. Colonel Sir William Pollitt had been appointed Accountant for the company in 1869 having previously served as chief clerk in that post. In 1886, shortly after these letters, he became the railway’s General Manager until 1902. Some of the letters are carbon copies but the text can be made out.
To Mr Barker, Guide Bridge. 16/9/1885.
I am surprised to find that during the period the L&NW Co. have been booking locally between Guide Bridge and Stalybridge. 2000 passengers holding thIs Company’s tickets have been permitted to travel in the trains of the L&NW Co. in addition to which there are no less than 6000 through tickets from such places as Hyde, Mottram etc which have been so used.
Be good enough to let me hear from you fully as to why this has been allowed. I can understand that occasionally a few passengers might get into the wrong train but when it is done to the extent referred to shows that a proper supervision is not exercised by the Staff to prevent it, the result being that we shall have to pay the L&NW Co. for conveying these Passengers
You must please give strict instructions that in future Passengers are only to be allowed to travel by the trains of the Company for which they are booked.
Yours Truly, W. Pollitt.
The initial acknowledgment: Guide Bridge 16/9/1885.
I beg to acknowledge receipt of yours E354/109 of yesterday’s date re MS&L Passengers travelling by L&W trains & will give the matter immediate attention & write you further in the course of a day or two.
Mr Pollitt also wrote in a similar manner to the staff at the other stations on the line from Guide Bride to Stalybridge – at Duckinfield (Mr Ogden), Ashton Park Parade (Mr Mycock) and Stalybridge (Mr Price). These may have been the Station Masters, although their job title is not given. The text of these letters is very similar so I only provide the one to Dukinfield Station as an example:
To Mr Ogden, Dukinfield Station. 14/9/1885.
I find that during the period the L&NW Co. have been booking locally between Guide Bridge and Stalybridge. Passengers holding MS&L tickets have been permitted to Travel in the trains of the L&NW Co. – This is as you are aware opposed to the instructions given you on the subject, and I will thank you to let me hear from you in reference to the matter.
You must please take particular care in future that the Passengers are only allowed to travel by the trains of the Company for which they are booked.
Yours Truly, W. Pollitt.
There respective replies are as follows:
Dunkinfield Station,15/9/85, to W. Pollitt Esq
I am not aware that the Passengers we book (for) MS & L trains have travelled by L&NW trains from this Station. As a rule we do not book any of the former so long as the L&NW trains are due.
Of course there are times when we are compelled to book for both Companys’ trains at the same time but we don’t allow the passengers to travel by the wrong trains if we can prevent it. No doubt there is isolated cases that we miss when the platform is nearly full of Passengers – but we prevent all that we see doing what you complain of but I will instruct my staff again in this matter.
Yours Obediently, S. Ogden.
M.S.&L.Ry.Co. Ashton (Park Parade). 15/9/1885. To W. Pollitt Esq, Manchester.
There is evidently some mistake in reference to this matter. My staff have all previously been instructed as to this working & I have now questioned them and am informed that they do not allow it to be done; there are now larger numbers of passengers booked to Guide Bridge & Stalybridge by L&NW trains but with L&NW tickets, this as you are aware did not used to be done & it increases the number of L&NW Co.s passengers very much .
So far as I can learn the instructions are being properly carried out.
Yours Truly, H. Mycock.
Stalybridge. 15/9/85. To W. Pollitt. Passengers riding in wrong trains E354/88
Since I have been at this Station this matter has been enquired into a many times & although there is no doubt but that the practice complained of had been carried on to a great extent yet I am glad to inform you that as there are now properly appointed ticket collectors, cases of the kind are now rare, in fact everything is being done to put a stop to the practice entirely.
There are still a good many passengers arriving here by L&NW Co.s trains holding MS&L Co.s tickets and these are chiefly from stations on the Hyde & Hayfield branch as during the day there are several trains off the branch due at Guide Bridge at or about the same times as the L&NW trains.
You may rely on my giving the matter my personal attention.
Yours Truly, J. Price.
So now returning to Mr Barker’s of the Traffic Dept at Guide Bridge, considered response to Mr Pollitt’s criticisms:
To William Pollitt Esq, Accountant, Manchester. 21/9/1885.
I beg to enclose you particulars of a few L&NW Passenger trains for the month of July 1884-5, shewing the time they left here, as also the times our trains were due from which you will notice in many instances the margin is very little, & when their trains are running a few minutes late and ours due within a few minutes , it has resulted in some of our Passengers travelling by them which is impossible to prevent under the existing arrangements.
In regard to Passengers from Hyde, Mottram & other Stations on the Main Line, I think it would be advisable for them to be instructed not to book further than Guide Bridge in cases where there is not a connection; I would also suiggest that we have a notice board put up opposite the Booking Office & also one on the Up platform to the effect that MS & L tickets between Guide Bridge, Dukinfield, Ashton and Staly Bridge are not available by L&NW trains, and after this intimation has been given, would it not be the better plan for Ashton or any other Station on the Branch to excess the Passengers on arrival.
I have instructions to give preferences to L&NW Co’s Passenger trains, & should a train be running late & arrive at the signal at the same time as ours, it has the preference; you will therefore see it is almost impossible to keep our Passengers out of such trains, & I do not see how this can be prevented absolutely in future, unless the tickets of each L&NW trains are examined before leaving this Station, which would of course result in serious delay. Perhaps you will kindly reply further.
Yours Truly, K. Barker.