Following the announcement of plans to close ticket offices at rail stations in England, I joined Vicky Foxcroft MP and Ellie Reeves MP in writing to the Transport Secretary to express our concerns over the impact on our constituencies.
We raised concerns over safety and accessibility for elderly and disabled passengers and over job security for those working in ticket offices.
You can read the letter below.
Dear Secretary of State,
Re: Closure of Rail Ticket Offices in England
We are writing to express our concern over plans to close 14 rail ticket offices across our constituencies.
On the 5th July, the Rail Delivery Group confirmed plans to move staff out of ticket offices and into stations, with the consultation on these significant changes to last just 21 days.
That news will be deeply worrying to families as well as our elderly and disabled constituents, the hundreds of thousands of people employed in our rail industry, the staff employed in our constituencies, and all those who rely on the support and advice provided by staff in ticket offices.
As you are aware, one in nine tickets are still sold at physical ticket offices. That represents over 150 million of the 1.4 billion rail journeys recorded over the past year.
Given the fact that many of those passengers relying on ticket offices will be elderly and disabled rail users that may otherwise struggle to use digital alternatives, it is vital that you offer assurances that those rail users will still have access to the support they need to use our rail network with confidence.
Research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), for instance, has found that only 3% of people with sight loss said they could use a ticket vending machine without problems and 58% said it was impossible.
Given those serious concerns for our constituents, we would appreciate answers to the following questions:
- What will happen to the rail staff currently deployed in rail ticket offices in our constituencies?
- What will the impact be on their job security, during a cost-of-living with rising mortgage and interest rates?
- What the impact of ticket office closures will be on the safety and accessibility of the rail network for disabled and elderly passengers?
- When will digital and pay as you go ticketing technology be available across the whole of the rail network?
Following Southeastern’s December 2022 timetable changes, passengers across our constituencies have already suffered from a service that many feel does not suit their needs. They should not have to face any further disruptions to their travel plans due to the poor management of our rail networks.
Under this Government, private operators have been allowed to profit whilst cancellations have reached record highs, basic services like Wi-Fi are at risk of being taken away, plans to bring forward legislation to reform services have been scrapped and now ticket offices are facing closures without thought for the vulnerable users that rely on them.
Our rail network is already failing passengers in our constituency and is in desperate need of reform. But the people of this country have lost confidence in the Government to deliver a rail network that works for passengers.
We look forward to your response.
Janet Daby MP, Vicky Foxcroft MP & Ellie Reeves MP