Worksop and Retford rail ticket offices to stay open after huge Government U-turn
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Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the government had asked train operators to withdraw their proposals because they failed to meet high passenger standards.
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.
Train companies said that only 12 per cent of tickets were now bought at station kiosks.
But passenger watchdogs Transport Focus and London Travelwatch objected to the proposals, saying they had received 750,000 responses from individuals and organisations in a public consultation.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “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.”
Councillor Jo White, Deputy Leader of Bassetlaw District Council, said: “This was a huge concern for passengers and staff at Worksop Train Station. The proposal would have meant no staff based at Worksop station after 1pm.
I heard many different concerns on why closing the ticket office at Worksop Station was a bad idea. People told me about needing the support of staff to purchase the right ticket, the machines breaking down, people with disabilities needing assistance, Worksop station toilets only accessible when a key is provided by staff, the waiting room having to close when there are no staff available and the hard-working station staff facing redundancy.
The proposal to close ticket offices was due to government pressure to cut costs and had the backing of the Prime Minister.
The U-turn is a great relief - I know that many people using Worksop Station participated in the consultation. The high level of response has meant that the government had to sit up and listen. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond.
Rail union TSSA has said it is delighted that the government has admitted defeat over plans to close almost all railways ticket offices across England.
TSSA – the union representing rail ticket office workers – has been at the forefront of a sustained campaign to ‘Save Ticket Offices’.
The union's campaign has resulted in the widespread condemnation of the proposals by passengers and disability, women’s and pensioner groups, drawing 750,000 responses.
Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, has now told train companies to withdraw the plans after both Transport Focus and London TravelWatch today formally objected to the proposals.
TSSA General Secretary, Maryam Eslamdoust, said: “Our union has fought tooth and nail for many months to stop what would have been a catastrophe for our railways.
“We are delighted that the government has admitted defeat and scrapped these wrongheaded plans. It shows the power of our union and of the great British public in making sure these planned closures have now reached the end of the line.
“Though the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, has acted today frankly none of this need have happened. We have been saying from the outset that railway ticket offices and station staff are a vital and loved public service. They should never have been under attack in the first place.
“I pay tribute to every single one of our amazing members and the public beyond who worked so hard to make sure this was a battle we won. This is their victory and a victory for our railways.”