IN WHAT seems a complete reversal of previous network-wide policy, Virgin Trains East Coast has removed automatic ticket barriers from its stations at Grantham, Newark Northgate and Durham, while those at London King’s Cross, Darlington and Newcastle are no longer continuously staffed.

VTEC Managing Director David Horne told Modern Railways barriers are not popular with long-distance customers, many with luggage, and that the increased revenue arising from the presence of gatelines at these stations was not sufficient to offset the cost of leasing them. Instead, VTEC has dramatically increased its Revenue Protection Team, which it claims is showing far better ongoing results.

VTEC is also experimenting with the removal of car park barriers too, relying instead on number plate recognition, as already seemingly successfully applied by HS1 at Ebbsfleet. Meanwhile, with any possibility of the much-opposed proposals for a gateline at York now seemingly removed, VTEC is pressing ahead with plans for a new ‘customer zone’, including the travel centre, a new first class lounge and much-needed new ladies toilets. Alan Williams