TWO transport firms are at loggerheads over the installation of a new set of barriers at one of the area’s biggest railway stations.
Ferry operator Wightlink has hit out after train company South Western Railway (SWR) fixed the blockades at Portsmouth Harbour station.
The maritime group claimed the train company had ignored its protests over the plans, which it said could cause confusion among passengers and impede people from using the ferry port.
However, SWR has fired back, arguing the gates will improve security and won’t impact customers using the ferry terminal.
But Wightlink’s chief executive, Keith Greenfold, has expressed his frustration over the situation – and said legal advisers from the ferry firm had written to SWR’s managing director.
Mr Greenfield said: ‘South Western Railway has installed this gateline despite our opposition to the scheme.
‘Managers at SWR first informed us of their intention to install a barrier at our regular consultation meeting with them on October 18.
‘We immediately told them this was unacceptable to Wightlink as it would impede our customers, staff and visitors from freely accessing our port and were surprised and disappointed to see this gateline has been installed.
‘Our legal advisers have written to SWR managing director Andy Mellors to advise him of our concern and ask him to remove the structure, pending further discussions.’
SWR said the new gates would help to clampdown on the number of people dodging train fares.
The company insisted the gates – which aren’t yet fully installed = could go nowhere else in the station, citing the current location as the best one available.
AN SWR spokesman said: ‘We recognise Wightlink’s concerns and have been trying to address them by offering a variety of opportunities that would allow passengers to purchase ferry tickets on entering the station.
‘While the gates are being installed in line with our franchise commitment, we have offered to leave them open and non-operational while talks continue.’
Wightlink said passengers using its services had a legal right to pass through the gateline to reach the FastCat terminal at all times.
SWR said passengers who use the trains to travel to or from the ferries will be unimpeded by the gates.
It added the company had ‘assured Wightlink’ that passengers who are solely using the ferries will be permitted free access through the gate to reach the ferries or leave the station.
There will be a member of the SWR stations team controlling the gates at all times when they are in operation.