Blogmas 16: BBC News – “Forged rail tickets being sold on dark web”

A couple of months ago I came across an article from BBC News about the sale of forged rail tickets on the dark web, and in the midst of Southern Rail travel chaos now seems like a good time to look back at it.

It is undeniable that rail tickets are incredibly expensive for what they provide. Four days of commuting into the capital from just outside Zone 6 has cost me £17.20 a day, which is a 16-25 railcard price. That’s a total cost of £68.80 for a train that is perpetually late (the 8:23 arrived no earlier than 8:27 every single day). I was lucky to get a seat each day, but the majority of people after my station had to stand for the 30-40 minute journey.

Because of my railcard (supposedly) I also had issues getting through the barriers at the train and underground stations. Most of the time staff are around, but on my final day I struggled to find someone to let me through and almost missed my train. They also never asked for proof of my railcard, although probably because I look about 12.

It’s no wonder though that there’s a degree of money to be made in selling fakes. Not working in the barriers is no problem as they are indistinguishable at a glance from the real thing, and with prices over half of what you’d pay from a reputable retailer, there is a clear market of commuters and leisure travellers hoping to get a good deal.

You can read the full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37800623. This is also a fantastic example of responsible investigative journalism – they didn’t name the company, so they don’t generate business for them, and they carried genuine tickets alongside the fakes. Well done to the BBC!

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Ballot boxes arriving in Horsham

Blogmas 9: #EUrefSussex

You may have noticed that before the influx of posts for Blogmas, my blog has been pretty empty over the last few months. This does not mean that I haven’t done anything, maybe more the fact that I have done a LOT and have been too busy to update it with news of what has been occurring. Today I wanted to look back on the Referendum on membership of the European Union in Britain and the exciting things I did over the election night.

The EU Referendum took place on 24th June 2016, a week or so after I moved back home for the summer. I am part of the Student Publication Association Facebook group and a mild acquaintance (We’ve never actually met but I’ve heard fantastic things!) posted about opportunities to cover the election with The Argus, my local paper. I sent a speculative CV over to the contact and thought little of it but, to my surprise, got a reply asking if I was able to drive over to Horsham to cover their election count. Although I’m veering away from a career in journalism, I thought it would be a great opportunity and something I would be unlikely to get the chance to do.

On the night, my role was to live tweet the Horsham count and then write an article about the result for publication in their election special the following day. It was my first ever all-nighter and one of my first night/morning drives, but it was a great experience. As a 20 year old ‘workie’ I was the only member of the press in the press gallery and struggled to find anyone official to speak to, save the organisers of the count and a few prominent campaigners in the area.

The live tweeting of the event was my clear strength over the evening and you can relive all of the action over the night on my Twitter moment ‘#EUrefSussex – Horsham’. Getting my name and face in the local paper was pretty cool too, even if it was only 10 words of my own work – the experience definitely showed me that I don’t want to deal with the harsh, fast editorial world if I can avoid it.

EU Referendum Live – Horsham

Today the UK have gone to the polls to decide whether we should leave or remain part of the European Union, the first referendum of its kind since 1975, when the same question was posed over the EEC. Overnight, ballot papers will be sorted and counted, with results being announced from 399 counting places .    the close of polls at 10pm and 7am, when the last areas are expected to declare. The overall result will be announced from Manchester tomorrow morning.

Already billed as a historical event for the country, many national and local groups will be up all night, reflecting on the event and speculating on a result where, for once, every vote counts – the local figures are combined to create a national figure for leave and remain, rather than simply counting the result from area to area as in the General Election. I am excited to be involved in reporting the action for the Brighton Argus and I will be based at the Horsham count, helping them bring results to readers from across Sussex. I will be tweeting all night and a report of the result will be printed in Saturday’s paper.

You can follow the action on the Argus website, by following #EUrefSussex on Twitter or via my personal Twitter @escarr15.

And please, if you haven’t voted yet, go out and make your voice heard. Don’t let your indecision cause the wrong decision.