Ticket office closure plans axed

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Plans for the widespread closure of railway station ticket offices in England have been axed.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the Government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.

This is in response to watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch announcing they opposed every single planned closure due to issues such as the impact on accessibility.

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Rail Delivery Group announced the plan for mass closure of ticket offices in July as a way to “modernise customer service”.

However, the announcement was widely criticised. A consultation over the plans received more than 680,000 responses.

Mr Harper said: “The consultation on ticket offices has now ended, with the Government making clear to the rail industry throughout the process that any resulting proposals must meet a high threshold of serving passengers.

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“We have engaged with accessibility groups throughout this process and listened carefully to passengers as well as my colleagues in Parliament.

“The proposals that have resulted from this process do not meet the high thresholds set by ministers, and so the Government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.”

Transport Focus and London TravelWatch were required to review each proposal to close a ticket office based on criteria relating to customer service, accessibility and cost-effectiveness, before deciding whether or not to object.

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Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: “Following analysis of the 750,000 responses to the consultation and in-depth discussions with train companies, Transport Focus is objecting to the proposals to close ticket offices.

“Significant amendments and changes have been secured by the watchdog – for example, reverting to existing times when staff will be on hand at many stations.

“Some train companies were closer than others in meeting our criteria.

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“However, serious overall concerns remain about how potentially useful innovations, such as welcome points, would work in practice.

“We also have questions about how the impact of these changes would be measured and how future consultation on staffing levels will work.

“Some train companies were unable to convince us about their ability to sell a full range of tickets, handle cash payments and avoid excessive queues at ticket machines. “Passengers must be confident they can get help when needed and buy the right ticket in time for the right train.”


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