Fear for safety of school pupils as land sheriffs are withdrawn from Audley End station

Audley End Railway Station. Picture: SaffronPhoto

Audley End Railway Station. Picture: SaffronPhoto - Credit: Archant

Parents are furious that the railway equivalent of lollipop people, land sheriffs, who keep primary school children safe on railway platforms - and have also helped to prevent suicides - are no longer at Audley End railway station.

Children boarding early morning trains to go to school in Cambridge must now look out for themselves.

Mum, Lyn Hudson from Sewards End, said: “Hundreds of children are on the platform every school morning. There are only two carriages on the trains, they are funnelling to get on, several deep with a huge gap between the platform and the train.

“What happens if someone pushes from the back or someone slips?

“My son is a teenager, but some of the children are as young as eight. There is a big yellow line and land sheriffs would tell the youngsters to get behind it.”

Mrs Hudson said she had contacted customer services at train operator Greater Anglia, which until January 14, funded two land sheriffs to supervise children catching the 7.37am and 7.50am trains.

She said: “I was told the railway company is not responsible for the children’s behaviour and it’s to cut costs but the sheriffs are only there for half an hour.

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“They gave no notice of the cut. They could have left one land sheriff there and they chose to remove them on one of the darkest, wettest weeks of the year.

“It’s not acceptable to put up the fares and cut the service.”

In September, Greater Anglia said it would employ more land sheriffs to improve safety and security for passengers.”

A statement said its 30 dedicated land sheriffs in East Anglia helped to keep customers safe and had helped to prevent seven potential suicides last year.

A spokesman for Greater Anglia told the Reporter: “The land sheriffs who have patrolled Audley End station every weekday morning from 7.30-8am for the last two years have been re-deployed elsewhere on the network, but staff are available for any customers requiring help.

“Many schoolchildren use the trains from Audley End. Our area customer service manager is speaking to schools to offer advice about how pupils should conduct themselves to keep safe.

“We have A Young Person’s Guide to Rail Travel booklet about safety. Parents can ask for it at the station.”

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