Posted 25th August 2023 | 8 Comments

Ticket office closure responses approach half a million

The number of people who have responded to controversial ticket office closure proposals in England has topped 460,000, according to the passenger watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch.

The consultation period was extended to 1 September at the end of July, and the proposals have triggered a determined reaction from passengers and politicians, who often argue that closing nearly all ticket offices will discriminate against people who cannot use ticket vending machines and who may not have access to smartphones or the internet. The operators have also conceded that a small number of tickets, including railcards, cannot be bought from machines.

Labour shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh has called on the government to admit that the proposals are intended to save money rather than to help passengers more effectively on station concourses and platforms.

She said: ‘This sham process is being driven every step of the way by Tory ministers. It’s time they stop dodging accountability, and come clean on the damage these closures will do. Railroading this botched plan through without consideration for passengers or staff only risks exacerbating the managed decline of the rail network.’

Meanwhile, the RMT has claimed that mass closures could cause the loss of 2,300 jobs.

London TravelWatch chief executive Michael Roberts said: ‘With more than 460,000 responses received already, it’s clear that there are strong views on the future of ticket offices. With a week still left to have your say, it’s not too late to submit a response about your local station.’

Over the coming weeks, the two watchdogs will continue to analyse carefully the proposals and consultation responses before they report their decisions on whether to support or object to the plans. They will be considering various factors, such as whether a station will continue to be staffed, accessibility, the alternative options for buying tickets and whether passengers will continue to be able to use lifts, waiting rooms and toilets, which are sometimes closed when no ticket office staff are on duty.

Reader Comments:

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

  • raymond scott, high wycombe

    i always get my ticket from the ticket office you can ask about train times and lots of other information . it would be a great loss if they were to shut .

  • Anthony, NationWide Issue

    The current ticket machines can NOT sell a plus bus add on.. So when you arrive at your destination you have to go to the ticket office, show your Rail Ticket to prove you have travelled from outside your current plus bus area and request a plus bus ticket for that area.

    I repeat again. Ticket machine do NOT sell "stand alone" Plus Bus Tickets for use with an existing rail ticket. That is a Season Ticket or whatever other ticket or pass your using to travel by the train.

  • Donna Pearce, Berkeley Gloucestershire

    It is bad enough the buses have been cancelled at rural spots now the train service are making it even worse for pensioners who do not have access or are not able to access computers or know how to use today's technologies - don't forget everybody gets old eventually so you will be able to see what it's like not able to get help and advice.

  • Mr Martin Parish, Bishop's Stortford

    I am very upset to learn that the railways want to close ticket offices. When I use the trains I do not want to use a machine. I like to talk to a person and discuss what ticket to buy for my journey, i.e. what is the cheapest option, and the time I will be allowed to travel. I'm not sure if a machine will sell me the best ticket for my journey, and I find it difficult to know how to operate the machines. I feel the whole exercise on wanting to close the ticket offices is just to save money and eventually reduce the workforce of the railways, they will not replace staff when they retire. It is so unfair for disabled people and the elderly who cannot go on line and purchase tickets and find using the machines very difficult and for some disabled people simply impossible. I am sure there will be some staff on the platforms for awhile to help out but then gradually reduced. I think the action to close the ticket offices is quite unsafe and I hope a proper Risk Assessment has been made especially if some disaster occurs, who will help passengers, and direct them out safely from the railway station. I oppose the closure of ticket offices.

  • Ted Greaves, chatham

    The ticket machines only sell tickets from that location. But sometimes a return ticket is not available (depends on locations or times of travel). So you have to buy your ticket on the return trip. But these means your destination requires a working machine or you may miss your train due to queueing at station. Also, I sometimes bought a ticket in advance for route where the ticket machine is not at the start or end of the trip so this will now be impossible. So basically the machine cannot sell valid tickets which you can get from the ticket office.

  • Alison Carberry, Harpenden

    I am very concerned regarding the government’s plan to close train ticket offices. The people behind the ticket offices are the experts on train travel. If I need to ask about the best route with fewest train changes to get from A to B then they know it. If I want to know the best and cheapest way to get from A to B then they know it. They are a wealth of information that I do not have the time or wherewithal to find online.
    I also worry about the absolute discrimination against the elderly who do not use the internet to buy tickets and the disabled who also need help and advice on their travel arrangements. This is a thinly disguised ploy to get rid of jobs and save money. It will be described as ‘re-structuring’. We like our ticket offices and the travel experts who work in them. If you want to save money on the railways then for goodness sake ditch the white elephant known as HS2.
    Save our ticket offices, get rid of HS2. Change and modernisation is not always for the better!!

  • Jonathan C. Smith, Bishop’s Stortford

    I rarely use the railways BUT do travel to London sometimes to meet friends for lunch. I suffer from COPD and have been advised not to travel by air. I want to visit my in-laws in Scotland and we were trying to arrange a rail journey (strikes permitting the journey involves using different operators and their strike days are not all the same). So, I’m an infrequent rail user BUT when I do I need to be able to discuss options to obtain best value. How can I do this using a ticket machine?
    Please reconsider the proposal to close ticket offices. I cannot see how it will improve ‘service’ but can see how it will adversely affect it.

  • R Taylor, Prestwick

    For older people like myself these machines are not always easy to use. They do not tell you about the best value fares to where you wish to go. Their are several occasions when I have needed to use one, the cash side of the machine has refused to work luckily I have had a card with me. So much for the machine saying it takes both cash and card. Safety on unmanned stations is another problems. Many older people do not have smartphones or computers with internet access.