NORTHERN has refuted claims that its staff are refusing to let school pupils buy train tickets at Greenbank station.

Parents of children studying at high schools in the area claim that Northern revenue protection officers have prevented pupils from accessing the platform, where ticket machines are located.

This, they say, is a frequent occurrence at Greenbank station, and the issue was also highlighted at this month’s Northwich Town Council meeting.

One parent told the Guardian: “These revenue protection people stood at the gate checking if the school children had return tickets or passes.

“The ticket machine is on the platform, so some children were not able to buy a ticket and get the train home.

“This is clearly a safeguarding concern - particularly at this time of year when it is dark early and cold.”

Another parent added: “Our daughter has been left stranded on numerous occasions and she has called me in such a state because she wasn't allowed to buy a ticket.”

In response to the claims, Northern regional director Chris Jackson said that refusal of travel was used as a last resort against fare dodging.

He commented: “We are working with high schools in Northwich to address issues with some pupils seeking to travel without paying the correct fare.

“Our staff have been at Greenbank station to check tickets and sell tickets to pupils who need to purchase them.

“Where pupils have not had the means to buy tickets, they have still been allowed to travel after providing their details to rail staff.

“The cost of the fare is subsequently charged to parents or guardians.

“Only when details are refused will we consider refusing to allow people to travel.

“We will continue to work with the schools in the area and have invited staff and teachers to assist at stations where problems persist.”

Chris added: “Where possible, customers should buy their tickets before boarding trains.

“As well as ticket offices and ticket vending machines, customers can also buy tickets from our website, our app and from other online retailers.”