LAST week, a change in train fares throughout the Bolton network and Greater Manchester was announced.
Northern Rail has decided to introduce an evening peak time between 4pm and 6.30pm from September 8, meaning off-peak tickets will not be valid at that time.
It means people will either have to pay double or wait around for a long while to get the train home.
The firm is also restricting the use of other discounted tickets and scrapping a cheap evening ticket valid after 6.30pm.
The response to this has been loud and clear — readers of The Bolton News are opposed to it.
One wrote to me to point out the irony that, in the same week the changes were announced, Northern Rail posted glossy pamphlets to many Bolton homes to promote their discounted tickets.
But the most remarkable thing about the criticism of Northern Rail’s move is that a great deal of it is coming from its own staff.
For example, one ticket inspector, who has asked to remain anonymous, contacted me to say it “won’t work”.
He explained that ticket barrier staff have only a fraction of a second to check people’s tickets and will not be able to see all the details dozens of times every minute.
The Northern Rail employee said: “It’s a total sham and it will cause problems. When people with the cheaper, off-peak tickets get past the barriers, they will go on to trains.
“And then it becomes the conductor’s problem. Not only will it cause arguments between staff and customers, but it will be ambitious for staff to re-ticket everyone involved in a short space of time. They just haven’t thought it out properly.”
It must be said that this is not just Northern Rail’s fault.
The Department of Transport has asked the company to increase revenue and none of the available options, such as charging for station car parks, were ever going to be popular.
But that does not change the fact that customers and staff alike are going to find their experiences on the railway more unpleasant as of September 8.