Posted 24th July 2023 | 15 Comments

Two days left in ticket office closures consultation

The passenger watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch say more than 100,000 people have responded to the consultation about the proposed closure of more than 800 station ticket offices in England.

Time is running out, because the deadline for responses is Wednesday.

The Rail Delivery Group and the Department for Transport say only about one in eight passengers still use ticket offices, because the rest buy from machines or book online.

The plan is to bring staff from out of their offices on to station concourses, where they can help passengers with ticket purchases or any other queries they may have.

The unions have been protesting at the plans, saying they believe the changes are the first steps towards thousands of redundancies, while a group of city Mayors in the North of England is challenging the lawfulness of the consultation itself.

The transport authorities in the north, who make up the Urban Transport Group, say the changes are inconsistent, pointing out that Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street, which have over 32 million and 22 million annual users respectively, are losing their ticket counters, while the offices at Leeds (19 million), Sheffield (7 million), Newcastle-upon-Tyne (7 million) and Liverpool Lime Street (10 million) will remain open.

The UTG added that Avanti West Coast is proposing to close all its ticket offices, including London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street, while state-owned LNER is proposing to keep the offices at London King’s Cross, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Edinburgh.

Transport for Wales is making no changes to the ticket offices it operates in England, which include Chester, Shrewsbury and Runcorn East, although nearby Runcorn, which is run by Avanti West Coast and has four times as many passengers as Runcorn East, is set to see its office closed.

The managing directors of individual operators have been defending the proposals.

Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles said: ‘The station proposals are aimed at providing a more modern and flexible service for our customers. They reflect the more convenient ways in which passengers are looking to buy their tickets and check travel information.

‘Station colleagues would undertake a new, more flexible role – bringing staff closer to customers. Passenger assistance arrangements would continue as they do now, from first to last trains, but with additional mobile teams to give greater flexibility in providing assistance across the network.’

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: ‘We’ve had a huge response to the consultation so far. There’s still time to respond to the consultation if you haven’t done so yet. We want to hear from everyone, so we can consider the needs of all station users and local communities.’

Transport Focus added that it will ‘scrutinise the proposals and any mitigations in detail, alongside the public responses’.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.


    This proposal is nothing todo with improving services but all to do with saving money. Instead of relocating staff the next step will be reducing staff.
    Many people when they travel look to railway staff for help which must be there

  • Julia Faire, Coventry

    So many older people DO NOT USE computers - they are not online. They are being side-lined in decisions to close ticket offices - as well as some disabled people. Ticket purchasing is often really complicated and it's hard to work out what is best. i still like to purchase at the ticket office because of this

  • Pamela Sheppard, Narborough

    Please keep Narborough railway station ticket office open because I need help with booking tickets also I would feel less safe if my local station was unmanned.

  • Colin Johnson, London

    Absolutely dreadful. I cannot believe that another load cuts are going to be carried out when we actually need more help & support ie staff.
    probably just being done to make more profit for greedy shareholders & their dividends. No thought for users

  • Gordon Roy Wearn, POOLE


  • William Taylor, bristol

    I am strongly opposed to these closures. I always use them and further on the one occasion a friend showed me how to use the ticket machines he could not get an off peak ticket from it!

  • Mrs Brenda Parish, BISHOP'S STORTFORD

    I am very upset that the railways have decided to close ticket offices. I understand that the government and railways want us to use the trains more for our travel instead of using our cars but this will make it less attractive. The ticket office is always the place to inform you of the best type of ticket to buy and if there are any special offers, especially in the summer months. I live at Elsenham and it is on the Greater Anglia Railway Line, from Liverpool Street to Cambridge. There are a lot of people who may be blind or partially sighted and using a machine or buying tickets on line is impossible. If there are going to be staff at the stations to help people with the machines why not have the ticket offices open. I think it is a tradition of the British way of life to have ticket offices at stations. Why do we have to change now surely the railways should be wanting to make the system attractive to use and ticket machines certainly do not do this. I hope the railways will listen to its customs, otherwise there will be less people using the trains.

  • Kevin OMalley, Weymouth

    I suffer from Glaucoma and pre-cataracts so find it difficult to use both rail apps and ticket machines. It is invaluable to speak to a person when purchasing rail tickets.

  • maggi deimel, Stanhope, Bishop Auckland

    Please do not do this. Using the internet often causes a great deal of stress. Also I have a son who is disabled in his communication and needs to feel that he can take his problems re booking to a human being. Also, I am convinced that the reliance on the internet is going to cause some kind of huge implosion in the future for our society. We are behaving insanely.

  • Charles Littleton, Stevenage

    This is a cynical cost-cutting and union-breaking exercise, glossily dressed up as 'modernisation'. I am not convinced and am totally against it.
    Those proposing it say that most people buy their tickets using the station ticket machines. That doesn't mean that we enjoy or prefer using them. I much prefer talking with a live person about ticket options and ways to reduce the fares. The options on the ticket machines are limited.
    I am sure there have been many complaints from disabled or elderly passengers already about how these plans would discriminate against them. I fit in neither of those categories (except getting a bit elderly), but even I would be discriminated against because I use a certain type of ticket (a carnet of five return trips bought at a time), which I only heard about through an actual live person at STevenage ticket office and which is not provided for by the highly simplistic 'one size fits all' ticket machines in the station. I have to go to the office to get my tickets and I will use the trains even less than I currently do if I am forced to rely on the limited, and expensive, options on the ticket machines.
    Using the trains in Britain is bad enough already. Why make it so much worse, and so much more expensive at a time when we are supposed to be moving away from our cars to using public transport? Why drive people away from public transport rather than encouraging them? This is a bad policy which will lead to no good.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    "The Rail Delivery Group and the Department for Transport say only about one in eight passengers still use ticket offices".
    What other business would deliberately alienate 12.5% of their customers?
    As usual when government gets involved (as we all know who is behind this) things are being done bass ackwards. Rail & Fares reform should come first (GBR). THEN consult on changes.

    FYI - you missed York, Doncaster & Peterborough from your list of ticket offices LNER intends to keep open. It appears they are also proposing to keep open those at Berwick-upon-Tweed, Durham, Darlington, Wakefield Westgate, Retford, Newwark Northgate and Grantham to sell all but 8% of ticket types (accounting for 2.3% of sales).

    [We have already published (twice on this website and also in the July print edition of Railnews) the fullest possible list of offices staying open as provided by the operators. The point about LNER in this story was being made by the Urban Transport Group.

    FYI You may have misunderstood the reference to 8%. LNER is definitely proposing to close the office at Berwick-upon-Tweed (and elsewhere) but it says 92% of ticket types will still be available at the stations which are losing their offices (presumably from staff in public areas or vending machines).

    Quote: ‘As a result of the planned changes, a small percentage (around 8%) of ticket types will no longer be retailed at Berwick-upon-Tweed Station. We’ll support customers with purchasing these online if possible or direct them to our neighbouring LNER stations, Edinburgh Waverley and Newcastle. Customers won’t be able to obtain the following products: Season Replacement, Rovers & Rangers, Excesses; Photocards, Refunds, Seat Reservations, and Rail Cards.’ Source: --Ed.]

  • Gerry Powell, Gloucester

    I feel this is purely a money saving exercise driven by the government. This is the government that is supposed to be reducing carbon emissions !
    This will force more people, particularly the elderly,and disabled OFF the trains probably onto cars !
    OR not travel at all !
    I am 70 and still use the ticket office as the staff are very helpful, if they are on the station how am I to get in, then they may be doing other activities.
    Again the government not living up to environmental promises

  • Jonathan Edward Liggins, Exmouth

    Shutting ticket offices would be a retrograde step. I accept that many people now use the internet. However,many do not and I reverted to buying tickets at Exmouth ticket office a couple of years ago. Frankly, it's much easier. The staff there are knowledgeable, patient and helpful. The ticket office was modernised recently. The staff could not do their job on the platform without access to their computers. Indeed, there's nowhere for them to go if the ticket office is closed and I strongly suspect the Union is right in saying this is a prelude to redundancies.

  • Alan Bowler, Slough

    How will disabled (e.g. Blind, Deaf, Dumb, Physically handicapped, Wheelchair users etc. ) people be served?

    How will people who do not have access to the internet, mobile phone, computer or who do not have a bank card be served?

    It is proposed that the ticket office closures will permit staff to be employed as “Roving Individuals” and I wonder how effective these will be, how many will be available, are they monitored for their performance and what times should they be on duty?
    The fact that rail companies may come up with excuses, weasel words etc. will not help those people who are failed because of the changes.

    “Roving Individuals” - How many per station?
    How may hours will they work (times?)?
    How are they identified?
    (If there is only one person per station, how can they service a number of people with diverse questions or for that matter, travellers who are on different platforms?).

    Assistance – will this still be offered at all stations?

    Will the full range of tickets and discounts still be available?

    Will the “Roving Individuals” be able to handle journeys across two or more rail networks?

    Can tickets still be purchased from stations before the date of travel?

  • Linda Topping, Earley Reading

    I believe this is a money saving exercise and will discourage people from using the railways even more. Global heating has arrived and we should be improving public transport systems, to discourage us from using polluting cars. On a personal level, I value having a person to advise me on the best ticket to get for my journey. I always find the staff in my local ticket offices (Earley & Wokingham) very knowledgeable and helpful. Ticket machines cannot do this, as our rail system is so (unnecessarily?) complicated. There are many people who can’t use technology. What about them?