The stations – open for about 18 hours a day – are all very busy, especially during weekday peak periods, and they account for a significant share of the 46 million passenger journeys a year on the London Midland network. Commercial Director Alex Hynes says: “We are working with the British Transport Police to create a safe and secure network. Ticket gates are an efficient way of reducing fare evasion as well as allowing us to gather vital information that can assist us in improving services.” The Birmingham gating project also includes Moor Street and New Street stations, both of which are managed by other companies and are outside the Secom contract.
At the three London Midland stations, Secom engineers installed cameras on both sides of the ticket gates to capture images of passengers entering and leaving the gated areas. The images, 20 frames per second, are stored on digital recording equipment housed in secure locations at each station. Ian Barthorpe, of Secom’s National Accounts Department, says the equipment was selected to ensure clear images to facial recognition standard and of a quality that could be used in evidence in the event of a prosecution.
“The installation involved very strict health and safety requirements – our engineers had to be safe at all times and they had to work at night to avoid blocking peak passenger movements. They also had to work to engineering standards that met with Network Rail’s stringent requirements,” he says.
Over the past two years, London Midland has initiated an extensive programme of improvements to its trains and stations. The company manages 149 stations and operates more than 1,200 services a day – between London and Liverpool, and local services in the Midlands.
Alex Hynes says: “We treat fare evasion very seriously, as do other train operating companies, and are successful at detecting fare evaders and prosecuting. We believe we have one of the lowest rates of ‘fare dodging’ in the country and report to the Department for Transport on our progress, quarterly. It’s unfair that a minority of passengers choose to dodge their fare and the gates are an effective way of addressing this. We have a strong record of reducing fare evasion but we can’t afford to be complacent.”
The CCTV installations at the Birmingham stations follow other Secom security solutions for the rail sector, involving CCTV to protect against vandalism and improve passenger safety at unstaffed stations.