I am delighted that the Transport Secretary has intervened to cancel plans to close rail ticket offices across the country. This follows the publication of the transport watchdog’s consultation response today. The consultation saw 750,000 people submit responses, showing the significant level of concern on the matter.
As both a local MP and chair of the Rail APPG, I have made my concern about these proposals known to both ministers and rail operators, urging them to reconsider. Operators have frequently referred to the fact that only 12% of passengers now use ticket offices, however, this is not an insignificant number of customers. It is clear from their consultation response that Transport Focus agrees. Had the plans gone ahead, the most significant impact would have been felt by disabled groups and the elderly as well as many others who struggle to use the technology which will be necessary to book tickets without the support of ticket offices.
Prior to the consultation, the watchdog outlined several factors which they would be considering such as whether the station will continue to be staffed, accessibility, the alternative options for buying tickets and whether passengers will continue to be able to access station facilities like lifts, waiting rooms and toilets. It is clear that the proposals failed to meet the majority of these criterion and it is absolutely right that the Transport Secretary has stepped in to prevent the closures from happening.