Rail union says High Peak ticket offices at risk as Government shift threatens sweeping cuts

A major trade union representing railway workers across Britain is preparing for battle over the prospect of sweeping cuts to station ticket offices, with several in the High Peak among those most at risk.

By Ed Dingwall
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 8:20 am

According to insider sources at the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), the Government has recently updated its guidance to train operating companies regarding any planned changes to ticket office opening hours – potentially clearing the way for thousands of facilities to be shut at rail stations across the country.

The RMT has also issued a list of those stations most likely to be affected, which includes Buxton, New Mills Central, New Mills Newtown, Whaley Bridge and Glossop plus a number of other stops on the lines between Manchester and Sheffield.

The union’s general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The rail industry has made no secret of its goal of closing all ticket offices, and the floodgates have now been opened for an annihilation of ticket offices across the network.

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Trouble could be coming down the line at Buxton station and others serving High Peak communities.

“Ticket office staff not only enhance the passenger experience, but they ensure our railways are safe, secure and accessible. Wholescale ticket office closures would be disastrous for passengers and leave our railway deserted. Disabled and elderly passengers will be particularly affected.”

RMT members, and those of other industry unions, fear ticket office closures would lead to thousands of job cuts and create a ‘mugger’s paradise’ where there would be no staff available to assist passengers in any kind of danger.

Mick said: “This once more proves that the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda is a sham and that England's rail is being downgraded driving unnecessary social tensions between Britain’s nations and demonstrating a political choice has been made to downgrade England's rail users compared to Wales and Scotland.“Make no mistake, RMT is ready to use all means at our disposal to fight any attacks on ticket offices, we will be launching a widespread public and political campaign to protect ticket offices and our station staff members’ jobs.”

While there has been no official confirmation of any planned changes, similar reports have been surfacing over the past few months with no denial forthcoming from the Government.

In March, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) union wrote to transport minister Grant Shapps asking for more details, and raised the prospect of industrial action, but there has still been no public response.

When contacted by the Advertiser, a spokesperson for Northern – the company which operates the local stations in question – pointed to a previous statement by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), an umbrella body representing all operators on the network.

The RDG spokesperson said: “The pandemic has been an unprecedented financial shock to the railway. While no decisions have been taken over ticket offices, with the acceleration of changing travel patterns and more passengers migrating to digital technology, many jobs will need to change to become more passenger-centric.

“Train companies want to work with unions on how to address those changes, while making sure the industry takes no more than its fair share from the taxpayer.”

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