- Richmond – Kingston – Return
One thing you learn quite quickly when travelling on rails is where the demarcation of roles and responsibilities lies. For example, Drivers on the Overground are not allowed to use the ramps, and indeed are not trained to use them nor told where they are. The most obvious and common demarcation is that of the revenue inspectors. These are the guys who man the ticket barriers and check fares on trains. I’ve always found them very friendly and willing to fetch help but I’ve never, ever, had them offer help.
I arrived on the platform at Richmond with plenty of time before the train, unusually for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone in a South West Trains uniform. After a little search I got lucky and noticed in the distance four or five guys standing around in what I can only assume was a union meeting. Fortuitously they were standing by the platform ramp which immediately raised my confidence levels. This wave of confidence was dashed on the rocks of reality when I approached them and realised they were all revenue inspectors. Undeterred, I asked them if they knew of anyone who could help me with the ramp. Their predictable shrugs and efforts to point me towards the closed and deserted staff booth only served to confirm what I already knew about ticket inspectors. To be fair to them, after a brief discussion one of them did go into the nearby station manager’s office who was kind enough to come out and put me on the train.
My arrival, at Kingston, went entirely without incident.
Over the last three years I must have been through Kingston 250 times so I thought I knew it reasonably well. As a station, it’s big enough to have a 24-hour staff presence, but of only one person so if that person is litter picking or helping other passengers then finding them is not necessarily easy. There are ticket inspectors and ticket office staff but they’re not much help if you’re looking for mobility assistance. This has only rarely caused me a problem but on the trip back today I was advised of a new protocol, to let the ticket inspector know I was travelling so that he could radio the customer service assistant. I’ll do this in future, but I’m not sure where this leaves me if the ticket inspector has gone home or on a meal break. I’m also fairly sure it’s not policy, but one guy’s good idea.