Blackpool North: The most unfriendly station in the country?

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gazthomas

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I wonder why they're so unfriendly?

I am doing the 4 day GBRf railtour in September and I look forward to the harassment when we arrive at Blackpool at around 12.30am on Saturday morning for a break of just 10 minutes or so!
 
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the sniper

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I am doing the 4 day GBRf railtour in September and I look forward to the harassment when we arrive at Blackpool at around 12.30am on Saturday morning for a break of just 10 minutes or so!

Surely that's deliberately timed to avoid angering the BPN mafia? :lol:
 

John Webb

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I wonder why they're so unfriendly? .......
As has been mentioned earlier in the thread, inebriated parties heading home from Blackpool have caused problems in the past and it seems the station staff aren't going to run any risks with anyone at any time of the day!
 

bramling

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Was there yesterday and despite the upgraded station platforms, new wires etc was not let on to the platform for the 13.38 departure until 13.37 despite the set being in the platform and ready. It was also a "front set" so everybody that had been held behind the door (and there were quite a few!) took quite a while to walk up the platform and board. I suspect that's why the train departed 3 late!

It’s a real shame the opportunity wasn’t taken to make some changes during the recent remodelling works, like creating some more circulating space and finally ending the nonsense of the doors.

Which stations still do this practice? I know Skegness is one. Does Exmouth still do it? These are the only ones that I can think of where it happens on a full-time basis. Other places may do it at busy times.
 

HowardGWR

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I wonder why they're so unfriendly?

I am doing the 4 day GBRf railtour in September and I look forward to the harassment when we arrive at Blackpool at around 12.30am on Saturday morning for a break of just 10 minutes or so!
I shouldn't think there will be any problem just after midnight.
 

PHILIPE

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As has been mentioned earlier in the thread, inebriated parties heading home from Blackpool have caused problems in the past and it seems the station staff aren't going to run any risks with anyone at any time of the day!

Are there any seats on the platform ? Because, if so, they are there for bums to sit on them.
 

Chrisyd

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Won't an arrival time of 0030 on a Friday night, be a time when you will be most grateful of a set of secured doors to keep you safe from the residents/visitors of Blackpool?
 

leananger

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IWhich stations still do this practice? I know Skegness is one. Does Exmouth still do it? These are the only ones that I can think of where it happens on a full-time basis. Other places may do it at busy times.

Clacton do it sometimes. I thought I was going to miss a once an hour service and was relieved when people were still being held!
 
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Kite159

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Which stations still do this practice? I know Skegness is one. Does Exmouth still do it? These are the only ones that I can think of where it happens on a full-time basis. Other places may do it at busy times.
Clacton do it sometimes. I thought I was going to miss a once an hour service and was relieved when people were still being held!

In a way you could probably add Inverness to that list, the ticket barriers remaining closed until a couple minutes before the service is due to depart when they are set to accept tickets.
 
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randyrippley

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It’s a real shame the opportunity wasn’t taken to make some changes during the recent remodelling works, like creating some more circulating space and finally ending the nonsense of the doors.

Which stations still do this practice? I know Skegness is one. Does Exmouth still do it? These are the only ones that I can think of where it happens on a full-time basis. Other places may do it at busy times.
All three are seaside resorts................
 

bramling

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All three are seaside resorts................

I don’t really get the whole thing. It seems to be staff clinging to a throwback to the days of hoards of holidaymakers being handled on summer Saturdays, which is something which nowadays simply doesn’t happen to the same extent.

None of the Southern region stations do it, not on a regular basis at any rate, and I’d place a wager some of these are busier at times. Does it happen at Weymouth?

Exmouth in particular I don’t see the point - they seem to create more crowding issues by keeping people in the small booking hall, and Exmouth is more of a commuter station in the week - again no different to far busier stations.

This leaves Blackpool North and Skegness. The latter seems to have a big issue with excess demand relative to the size of the trains, plus clientelle issues, so I can understand the value in doing a ticket check - something which doesn’t seem to happen at Blackpool North as they have gates. The practice really seems to be more about staff playing games and playing at crowd control than anything else - for real crowd control they should pay a visit to London Underground which might open an eye or two.

I see Inverness has got a mention. This isn’t somewhere I’m familiar with, but presumably here this is more about ticket checking than anything else? There definitely seems to be a greater focus on revenue protection in many parts of Scotland, so perhaps it’s just a logical extension of that.

Just remembered they sometimes do it at Lelant Saltings and St Ives, which again is presumably for crowd management. However this only happens at busy times, unlike Blackpool North and Skegness where it seems to be a pretty much 24/7 feature.
 

Shaw S Hunter

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I'm sure I have made this point previously but anyone who has ever regularly worked trains from Blackpool North would say that the policy followed by the station staff there is fully justified. It's also worth pointing out that for much of the day there are train cleaners working to remove litter from terminated services, often with no traincrew present due to a terminus being an obvious place to schedule reliefs/breaks, and from time to time train water tanks may be filled. Having passengers mixing with these activities is just inviting problems even though the majority behave perfectly well. It's the tendency for that minority to arrive at the station somewhat the worse for wear that makes crowd control measures necessary. Reality is that Blackpool does suffer from problems with more than just a few drunk visitors.
 

bramling

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I'm sure I have made this point previously but anyone who has ever regularly worked trains from Blackpool North would say that the policy followed by the station staff there is fully justified. It's also worth pointing out that for much of the day there are train cleaners working to remove litter from terminated services, often with no traincrew present due to a terminus being an obvious place to schedule reliefs/breaks, and from time to time train water tanks may be filled. Having passengers mixing with these activities is just inviting problems even though the majority behave perfectly well. It's the tendency for that minority to arrive at the station somewhat the worse for wear that makes crowd control measures necessary. Reality is that Blackpool does suffer from problems with more than just a few drunk visitors.

I can, sort of, sympathise with the above - however Blackpool North isn’t the only station which has to deal with problem people, many other stations do and quite often in much larger volumes than a Sprinter’s worth or two. To me it simply comes across as an entrenched and rather odd method of working which is one (or two if we include Skegness) stations’s peculiar way of dealing with an issue faced across the board. I just don’t see the issue with providing seating on the platforms, not advertising platforms if they want to hold people back for any reason, and locking up units if and when necessary - as is done safely and regularly at pretty much every other station in the country, and at places far busier (in terms of passengers and train movements) than Blackpool North will ever be.

The station gives off an unpleasant, run down and rather hostile atmosphere, and certainly doesn’t offer a warm welcome to Blackpool nor a good first impression. The rebuild was a good opportunity to change things and bring the place into line with how the rest of the railway system operates, instead of continually expecting users to fit around the operating preferences of one particular station and its surly staff. It’s a shame this opportunity appears to have been missed.

Not having had the pleasure of being there since the changes, one wonders if there now presumably being two surplus doors has given the staff options to vary the theme a little with their door games?! Or have they had the doors expensively remodelled to match the new platform layout?
 
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Shaw S Hunter

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The station gives off an unpleasant, run down and rather hostile atmosphere, and certainly doesn’t offer a warm welcome to Blackpool nor a good first impression. The rebuild was a good opportunity to change things and bring the place into line with how the rest of the railway system operates, instead of continually expecting users to fit around the operating preferences of one particular station and its surly staff. It’s a shame this opportunity appears to have been missed.

The very existence of this thread means that there are some on here who clearly agree with you. And yet long before I ever became a railway employee I made plenty of visits to Blackpool and never encountered any such negativity. The crowd control doors were certainly different to just about anywhere else but they never got in the way of me having a pleasant trip. I even have photographs of trains taken from the platforms. Makes me wonder whether it's just an attitude thing, that maybe enthusiasts feel they have a "right to roam" at stations and don't take kindly to being restricted in some way. As for the "Blackpool system" being almost unique think how many times the Euston scrum has been discussed here! Those who are a little older (like me) may well remember that what happens at Euston used to be standard practice at many terminal stations and only changed when the open stations concept took hold. Clearly a decision was taken to most definitely not have the concept enacted at Blackpool and the reasons for that presumably are deemed to hold true to this day. I would also add that I have never had dealings with staff at Blackpool who could be described as surly: attitude (though not necessarily yours!) again perhaps...?
 

bramling

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The very existence of this thread means that there are some on here who clearly agree with you. And yet long before I ever became a railway employee I made plenty of visits to Blackpool and never encountered any such negativity. The crowd control doors were certainly different to just about anywhere else but they never got in the way of me having a pleasant trip. I even have photographs of trains taken from the platforms. Makes me wonder whether it's just an attitude thing, that maybe enthusiasts feel they have a "right to roam" at stations and don't take kindly to being restricted in some way. As for the "Blackpool system" being almost unique think how many times the Euston scrum has been discussed here! Those who are a little older (like me) may well remember that what happens at Euston used to be standard practice at many terminal stations and only changed when the open stations concept took hold. Clearly a decision was taken to most definitely not have the concept enacted at Blackpool and the reasons for that presumably are deemed to hold true to this day. I would also add that I have never had dealings with staff at Blackpool who could be described as surly: attitude (though not necessarily yours!) again perhaps...?

I think there’s a few different issues, the common factor just happening to be the infamous doors.

Firstly, from a purely enthusiast point of view, in actual fact I can’t say I had any difficulty getting what I wanted when I wanted to spend an hour on the platforms a few years back. In fact, I was able to hold quite normal and pleasant conversations with a number of staff there. It is rather concerning however that something which is second nature pretty much everywhere else should come to be viewed as some kind of special achievement - so this is the first frankly odd feature of the place. Having said that, despite having all the required permission granted (being railway staff myself may have helped), I was shouted at from afar by two separate cleaners, including being sworn at, and also by someone else from a car park, not sure if that person was railway staff or some kind of vagrant. Again, the whole experience simply gave the impression of a very odd outfit, completely detached from normal standards of basic human decency - and having to overcome obstacle after obstacle just to do something pretty simple and basic, achievable elsewhere, including in far more sensitive and important locations, without any of the silly nonsense, in a supposedly liberal country.

Viewing things from the viewpoint of a passenger, the station experience is little better. Again it’s the odd station out, and no matter which way one looks at it to any regular rail user it’s an unfamiliar, strange or at best outdated setup. Add in what are, at least outwardly, quite rude and unhelpful staff, especially by north-west England standards, and again one can’t help but form the impression the place is a bit of a freak show. I realise judging by what one reads on here the same may well apply to some of the station’s users.

All this offers a poor passenger experience from start to finish. Being penned in to a relatively small waiting area, devoid of facilities, and seemingly deliberately held back until as late as possible - again when the customer friendly policy found at virtually every other station, including busy London termini, is to be able to wait on the platform, probably on a seat, or even better on the train itself where one can settle down and prepare for the journey. We can read all manner of reasons why staff deem this to be impossible at Blackpool North, yet other places manage these things day in day out, using the same trains in some cases, and in many cases handling vastly greater numbers of people.

Maybe I’m getting the wrong vibes, and to be fair I’m hardly someone who has used the station apart from occasionally, however the vibes I pick up are of an unpleasant and run-down yet self-important and rather arrogant station, tucked away at the end of what is a comparatively backwater branch line, quite remote from managerial eyes, with staff stuck in a past era who are scared to join the real world simply because it’s outside their comfort zone. I’m not sure whether it’s depressing or just odd, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a pleasant place to be. Perhaps it’s just reflective of Blackpool as a whole, however one typically expects a visit to a seaside resort to be a happy pleasant experience, yet Blackpool North station simply makes one feel like having arrived at a freak show in my experience. I’m clearly not the only person to pick up this vibe.

I take the point about open stations, and yes I’m old enough to remember when stations had a ticket collector in a box. However wasn’t this more about ensuring people had a ticket before accessing platform areas? My memory is generally that once past the barrier it was quite possible to roam around, though presumably not at Blackpool North! One wonders if the origin of the Blackpool North setup lies in today’s station being the former excursion platforms, which presumably in those days would have been kept closed off?
 
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Ianno87

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I've spent many years travelling to Blackpool (mainly when I was younger), so the whole "Blackpool Experience" (queuing at the doors, etc. This being the north, everybody respects the order of the queue anyway) has always seemed normal to me; I've just assumed it's always the done thing (probably, as suggested, based on 'tradition' there more than anything else). Follow the staff instructions (I've never been inclined to just wander round the platforms other than for getting on/off trains), and you don't get the staff "attitude" as a result.

The only thing I do find odd is the recent imposition of the ticket barriers. You effectively have to go through them when you turn up at the station (as there's nowhere really to stand 'land-side') then you're 'penned in' until your train boards. And typically, they reject half of valid tickets too; not great on a summer day when there's multiples of prams and children to get through... Before the barriers, the main concourse wasn't a bad experience at all really, almost a kind of atmosphere about teh place (maybe rose-tinted on my part - memories of childhood seaside trips, heading home after a fun day).
 

whhistle

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I'm not aware of anywhere that states rail customers are requested to sign in to take photos while changing trains during their journey.
There's two sides to this though: being reasonable, or difficult.

You could say that everyone who has purchased a return to Blackpool North is "changing trains". But what is a reasonable definition (in time) of that? If you've gone to the station to purposefully take photos and then go somewhere else, that's not exactly "changing trains during their journey" from what is reasonable (IE, thinking about Crewe to Rugby changing at Stafford).

I'm not protecting the staff there, but twisting the meaning of rules/regulations/requests is why our society is like it is today.
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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I may have missed something earlier in the thread, but has there been any official TOC information ever been made public about how the TOC actually deal with passengers at Blackpool North railway station who are awaiting to depart by train from this railway station, now the station upgrading has been completed?
 

shredder1

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I had the misfortune to visit Blackpool North yesterday and was struck by the unfriendly atmosphere and the lack of "customer service and customer experience" i received.

I don't want to say to much as i am going to write to Northern but:

1) Accused by staff of dawdling on the station platform having helped the guard help an old lady off the train!
2) General stasi like approach to anyone on the station - NOT happy about taking pictures of station/train/tower
3) A gated station which then holds you in the concourse behind locked doors?
4) Allowed through said locked doors 1 minute before departure

It was all a very poor image for Blackpool and all very odd

A very good post and yes its appalling, many of us have had serious issues with the staff there while going about our legal business, I too have had to write in about issues and ignorant staff I`ve experienced, they seem to send out a standard apology, but don`t do anything about it and the staff continue to be an embarressment to them. Not very good for a town that relies on tourism.
 

shredder1

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in fairness i bet the staff have to deal with all manner of drunkenness/anti social behaviour/fare dodging/fighting etc but still...........

Which is all the more reason why they should support those of us who support them, we are extra eyes and ears when things go wrong, to alienate your supporters is hardly a wise move.

My last experience at Blackpool North says it all, I arrived on a Leeds train, took ONE picture of the train that brought me in, and headed for the ticket barrier, as I was only in Blackpool for the trams, some small aging balding twit jumped on me before I could get to the barriers reading me the riot act, so I just pushed passed passed him and told the sad little man to go away, he then phoned the police and told them I swore at him, and an officer who was on the platform came over, I showed him my press pass and he took my side, saying that he was aware of the staff members attitute, and explained he had to come over to me because he had been called, to his credit the police officer practically apologsied to me. I later wrote into Northern who also apologised also and told me they would send someone round, a regional manager I think, to have a word with the staff member.[/QUOTE]
 
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bramling

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Follow the staff instructions (I've never been inclined to just wander round the platforms other than for getting on/off trains), and you don't get the staff "attitude" as a result.

I wouldn’t entirely bank on that. I’ve seen people get shouted at for not leaving the platform quickly enough after arriving by train, for daring to do things like prop their bicycle up against a wall for a couple of minutes to get things together or standing still to take a phone call. The place has a sour reputation for good reason, unfortunately.

The more civilised way to arrive in Blackpool is via Blackpool South, which again seems to manage without rude staff and doors.
 

NorthernSpirit

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Don't forget that Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe also had problems at Blackpool North in 2017 when they were doing All The Stations.

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Something that came to me and that is what would happen should ever a fire breakout in Blackpool North? Its not as if you've got an easy escape either, what with the platform doors bolted shut and as for the ticket gates, the gestapo would still want your ticket despite a cloud of black warm smoke bellowing away behind them.

Would the station be viewed as a fire risk because of the way the station is bizzarely operated?
 

Chrism20

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There is a fire door at the opposite end from the gates next to the BTP office, it was an aentrance before the gates were installed.

Surely the gates will be programmed that if the fire alarm triggers they automatically open.

I’d imagine over the years it’s been assessed a good few times and isn’t deemed as a risk.

What are they doing with the Virgin services? Is it the same nonsense?
 

Crossover

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I have been to Blackpool North a couple of times since the electrification and they weren't using the ticket barriers - most of the staff were sorting the buses on each occasion

I arrived on one of the Pendo services a couple of weeks ago and went to take photos of it and a test train in the adjacent platform, so me and my friend were by far and away the last people off the platform. It was only as we walked towards the exit, that I suddenly remembered where we were and that we hadn't been chased off yet! There was a staff member at the door but nothing was said as we left!
 

Crossover

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Are there any seats on the platform ? Because, if so, they are there for bums to sit on them.


Since the work has been done, the platforms are devoid of pretty much anything, including signage. I honestly can't recall seeing any seats on the platforms!
 
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