Government asks train operators to withdraw widespread plans to close ticket offices after watchdog advice
The UK government has told train operators to withdraw plans to close railways station ticket offices in England after a transport watchdog objected to plans for widespread closures.
Plans to close the railways ticket office were brought forward by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and train operators. Plans would have seen the vast majority of ticket offices in English stations closed, as well the Avanti West Coast ticket office in Glasgow Central.
Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith 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.
“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."
Transport Secretary Mark Harper added: “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. 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. We will continue our work to reform our railways with the expansion of contactless Pay As You Go ticketing, making stations more accessible through our Access for All programme and £350 million funding through our Network North plan to improve accessibility at up to 100 stations.”