Save Our Railway Ticket Offices
The government wants to close 1,000 ticket offices
The Department for Transport (DfT) via the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and train operators are consulting on plans to close up to 1,000 ticket offices with further plans to close others at a later date with the ultimate aim of closing all ticket offices on the railway. The operators (via Transport Focus and London TravelWatch) are consulting on their proposals with a 21 day consultaiton which started on 5th July 2023 and closes Wednesday 26th July.
UPDATE - The consultation period was extended on 25th July to now close on 1st September 2023 after threats of legal action around the overall handling and short timetable for the consultation.
What is ASLEF doing?
ASLEF believes that ticket offices are vital to support passengers
We are standing with our sister union the RMT in their campaign to Save our Railway Ticket Offices and are also opposing the closure to ticket offices and ultimate reduction in staffing levels across the network which could lead to our members lone working on greater parts of the network.
We are also writing to each operator to ask them to share with us their updated risk assessments based on their proposals and how this will work alongside an increase in lone working for train drivers.
We have also responded to the Transport Select Committee's call for evidence on legal obligations for accessible transport, you can read our response here the Transport Select Committee has re-opened this call for evidence in light of the proposals to close ticket offices and we have also submitted supplementary evidecne which you can read here
What can I do?
You can respond to the consultation and tell the government what you think
We are encouraging members and the public to also submit responses to the consultation, you can see each operator's proposals via their websites. When responding to the consultation ensure you are specific about your concerns and at which station you hold these concerns as both Transport Focus and London TravelWatch will only be able to raise objections based on the specific stations highlighted as part of this consultation. If Transport Focus or London TravelWatch object to a ticket office closure the ultimate decision will go to the Transport Secretary to be made.
The RMT have also prepared pre-populated consultation responses which can be submitted via their campaign page. Again we suggest that you highlight specific stations at which you oppose their ticket office closure / reduction in hours and outline why you oppose the operators plans.
The Transport Select Committee have re-opened their inquiry into legal obligations for transport providers to provide accessible transport in light of the ticket office closure proposals. The committie are now looking into
- how the proposals could affect disabled people and passengers with access needs; and
- what train companies and the Government need to do to ensure that any new arrangements do not reduce access to rail travel.
You can submit a response to the inquiry and have until 17:00 on the 16th August. You can submit your response via the committee's web page here
Avanti West Coast Consultation Response
30.The move to close all ticket offices whilst other operators are moving at a slower pace is a concern for us. It will further fragment the railways and cause further disparity in service for passengers in the North of England and Scotland.
31.The closure of Glasgow Central ticket office whilst LNER is keeping Edinburgh open unnecessarily creates a divide in Scotland between its two main cities. We would expect parity between these two stations in terms of the availability of a ticket office, questions must be raised as to why Avanti West Coast is taking such a drastic approach to their ticket offices whilst other operators are looking to carry out closures in phases.
32.The closures of London Euston, Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly, the 7th, 8th and 10th busiest stations in 2022 for entries and exits, causes us concern due to how congested these stations can be at peak times. A ticket office ensures that passengers know exactly where to find a member of staff without having to try and navigate through crowds of passengers heading towards gate lines or congregating on concourses. By moving these members of staff to platforms and concourses passengers requiring assistance with ticketing will have to now search through stations, this could cause real issues for passengers with access needs and reduces the welcoming nature of the railways.
33. There will be a reduction in the ‘ticket support hours’ at each station with stations such as Stoke-on-Trent receiving a reduction of over four a half hours of support. The staffed hours are currently planned to stay the same but with the reduction in ticket support hours, which would be the replacement of the ticket office staff hours, it is not clear if these staff members would then carry out other duties and no longer assist with tickets or if this means a reduction in the staffing levels at the station. Using Stoke-on-Trent as an example, when them member of staff would have been in a ticket office, the hours for which a member of staff is due to be at the office are 06:25-19:30 if these staff members are only scheduled to work the ‘ticket support hours’ (07:15-16:00) and not the staffed hours (05:30-00:00), this would mean that those four plus hours that have been lost are also four plus hours where there is a reduction in staffing. More clarity is needed from the operator on how they plan to staff stations and how staff will fulfil roles, particularly with accessibility assistance in mind. We are concerned that ultimately the plan is to reduce their staffing headcount and reduce station staffing levels.
34.Further to point 33. Stafford will see a reduction of over 5 hours of ticket support hours compared to ticket office opening hours. Again, this points to a need of more clarity from the operator as to whether these ticket office staff members will be contributing to the staffed hours or if they are planning to reduce staffing hours and potentially cut jobs. This lack of detail in the consultation process highlights its flaws which Transport Focus and London TravelWatch should make clear when reporting on the consultation.
35. Further to the concerns around the 7th, 8th and 10th busiest stations having their ticket offices closed they will also see a reduction in the equivalent ticketing support hours with Euston’s reducing by 2 hours whilst Birmingham New Street is reducing by 20 minutes and Manchester Piccadilly is reducing by three and a half hours. We need more clarity on how the operator came to the conclusion that it is appropriate to reduce the staffing hours by this much at each station. Ultimately this will likely see a reduction in staffing levels at these busy stations which is the opposite of what is needed when the aim is to grow ridership.
36.Not only will Avanti West Coast close Glasgow Central’s station, the only one in Scotland that they operate, but the proposals are for the ticketing support hours to be reduced by two hours. We need clarity on how this reduction in staff presence and visibility was decided upon and whether impact equality assessments were carried out prior to the consultation being started. This ticket office closure and reduction in staffing will have a detrimental impact on passenger accessibility as well as passenger and staff safety, in particular for our drivers who at this station and others mentioned, may find themselves operating services that stop at stations that have had their level of staffing reduced.
37.Overall, we believe that Transport Focus and London Travel Watch should consider the proposed reduction in ticket support hours and inquire as to why there is a lack of clarity around whether these proposals will result in staff reductions and ultimately less availability of staff to assist passengers with ticket purchasing and to assist passengers with access needs. Ultimately, we believe the intention is to reduce the staffing levels at these stations which as we have made clear will cause issues for safety, accessibility and reduce revenue as such we are fully opposed to the plan to close ticket offices
C2C Consultation Response
30.All 25 ticket offices are at risk excluding Fenchurch Street, Basildon, Grays & Southend Central. The current proposals leave us with concerns around the safety at certain stations due to the ticket office closures.
31.Dagenham Dock, East Tilbury, Limehouse, Ockendon, Purfleet, Rainham, and West Horndon are losing ticket office staff and will not have a ‘floorwalker’ present under the proposals. This is clearly a cut in staffing, and we are concerned for the knock-on effects this could have for passenger accessibility and passenger and staff safety and the implications it could have for our members working services that stop at these stations.
32.We note that C2C highlights its CCTV systems and roaming mobile security teams to supplement police patrols and the live CCTV monitoring. We need further information on what their intended time spent at each station is and what kind of training they will have i.e. would they be of any assistance to passengers or purely operate in a security role. If the intention is just to have a presence appear every now and then at a station to try and discourage any anti-social behaviour / criminal activities then we do believe that the removal of a fixed member of staff via shutting a ticket office and then refusing to have a ‘floor walker’ or adequately railway safety trained member of staff present will make matters worse and could impact on passenger or staff i.e. driver safety.
33.Under the current proposals, refunds, railcard sales and excesses can only be processed at the retained ticket offices at Fenchurch Street, Basildon, Benfleet, Grays and Southend Central. It is not clear what provisions will be in place, if any, for any passengers who wish to use the ticket office for these purposes after their local station’s office has been closed. It seems that only those living near to the stations retaining their ticket offices will be able to visit a ticket office for these purposes. C2C should be ensuring that all services are available across the network before closing ticket offices and removing the access of passengers to certain products based on their location along the network. These proposals in their current state will have a serious impact on passenger accessibility to the network and to all ticket types.
34. Further to the above point only Senior Rovers will be available online, at TVMs / Floorwalkers and at ticket offices. All other Rovers and Rangers are not available online or at ticket machines which would mean to access them a passenger would need to get to one of the retained ticket offices. This seems to be a plan to deter passengers from accessing these ticket types and we are opposed to the denial of access to these tickets which the closure of ticket offices will cause.
35. Beyond the stations that are seeing their offices closed and no ‘floorwalkers’ provided, the following stations are also seeing a cut in their staffing levels once ticket offices are closed. Barking, Basildon, Benfleet, Chafford Hundred and Thorpe Bay. These stations are a mix of both national and London and we would expect TrasportFocus and London Travel watch to investigate the impact these reductions in staffing will have on accessibility and safety. We are of course opposed to de-staffing at these stations and as such the planned ticket office closures.
36.Ultimately, we believe that TransportFocus and London Travel Watch should inquire further into C2Cs plans to ensure that passengers across the network have access to the same products and support and also inquire into the true proposed staffing levels and the impact this will have on accessibility and safety for passengers and staff. We believe that the aim of the ticket office closures is to de-staff parts of the network and drive down demand for certain ticket types, reducing revenue and stifling the growth of ridership, for this reason and the others mentioned above we are opposed to these plans in their current form.
Chiltern Railways Consultation Response
30. We understand that Chiltern is proposing to close its ticket offices and move the staff to ‘multi-skilled customer helper’ roles. These ‘helpers’ will be able to sell products which are not purchasable through the self-service machine, it is not clear however if they will accept cash still as the consultation only mentions TVMs accepting cash.
31. As we have outlined above, as the ticket office staff will now be in multiple areas of the station it is not clear if there is any intention for these members of staff to be at a set location such as by TVMs or if they will be roaming around stations. Our concern is that a passenger who needs their assistance may be left struggling to find them, whereas, with a ticket-office the passenger knows exactly where to go to find the staff member.
32.There is a lack of detail in the proposals as to what the staffing levels at stations will be, it presently just states ticket office hours compared with staffing hours. If some products are only available to purchase via ‘customer helpers’ then there needs to be clarity as to when they are working, will they be available through all the staffing hours.
33. We would suggest that London Travel Watch and Transport Focus seek clarity from the operator on staffing levels as on the face of it, if for example Aylesbury moves from 06:00-19:10 to 05:50 – 01:00 with the same level of staffing and same availability of ticket purchasing then this could be a positive to passengers as the new hours of operation of what were previously ticket office staff has increased, the same can be seen with Warwick Parkway moving from 05:25 – 18:35 to 05:15-00:45. However, we believe the staffing hours and ticket office opening hours have been mixed to confuse respondents and to give the impression that a greater level of staffing will be provided. In reality, what is more likely is that the customer helper will not be available throughout all the staffing hours, leaving those who need assistance with ticket purchasing such as the tickets and products not available through TVMs or with general access needs unsure as to whether a ‘helper’ will be available to assist them.
34.Ultimately, we are concerned that these proposals amount to a reduction of staffing levels at stations, and this has been hidden in the consultation process. We are opposed to unagreed reductions in staffing at stations due to the impact this will have on passenger accessibility and passenger and staff safety
East Midlands Railway Consultation Response
30.The current proposals stat that “… staff will be available at the right time and in the right locations according to customer demand,…”8 We expect there to be clarity from EMR as to how this system will run to ensure that staff are on hand to provide assistance to passengers when a ticket office was able to do this before. The fact this is lacking in the proposals does not enable passengers to way up the proposals effectively.
31.Whilst EMR is committing to keep all stations that are currently staffed, staffed. It is not clear as to what level of staffing or hours of staffing the proposed mobile staff team will provide. This will remove the certainty that passengers had around staffing levels at stations which have ticket offices. This in turn will reduce accessibility for passengers and could impact on safety for both passengers and staff.
32.We expect inquires to be made as to the specifics around the level of staffing that will be provided by the proposed mobile teams as there already are accessibility concerns on parts of the network on which EMR operates. For example, Alfreton station currently advises passengers unable to cross the platform due to a lack of a lift to travel to Nottingham to catch a train to Alfreton which will enable the passenger to reach the other platform, essentially removing access from this station due to the inconvenience and added time to a journey this will cause. Further reduction in staffing will compound current accessibility issues and we are disappointed that the operator has not been more open on their plans for staffing levels at each station.
33. A prime example of our concerns around de-staffing is Melton Mowbray station which will see its ticket office closed and then a promise of weekly visits from mobile staff instead of daily visits, with the timings of these visits to supposedly be determined by the outcome of the consultation. This is lacking the detail required to enable respondents to appropriately feed into the future planning of staffing levels and leaves us concerned that this station will mostly be unstaffed,but this is being hidden in the wording of the consultation.
34.We expect TransportFocus to push for greater clarity around staffing levels at each station after the ticket offices are planned to close and are disappointed that this has not been made clear by EMR. We are opposed to unagreed reductions of staffing on the railway and as such are opposed to the current proposals.
Govia Thameslink Railway (Great Northern, Southern & Thameslink)
30.We note that GTR intends to update its ticketing sales to ensure that tickets and products which aren’t currently available at TVMs or online will be available online. However it seems from the proposals that there are no guarantees for this to be in place when ticket offices close which will leave some passengers having to travel to larger stations to access these products. This has the potential to incur additional time and financial costs to purchase these tickets which would discourage these passengers from travelling, reduce accessibility and ultimately result in a loss of a revenue. The ticket offices should not be closed if there is no alternative for passengers to purchase all tickets.
31.The proposals state that the plan is to continue assistance via mobile teams at Carshalton, Cheam, Coulsdon Town and Crawley outside of ticketing assistance hours. We assume, as stated in the proposal that the equality impact assessments for these stations ensures that GTR continues to meet its ATP commitments. We would like clarity on whether or not turn up and go would be available at its current level at these stations or if this assistance is only available via pre-booking.
32.On the face of the proposals some stations will have an increase in ticketing assistance where the ticketing assistance hours extend beyond the current ticket office hours. We would like clarity on how this is provided, if it is the current ticket office staff moving to other roles at the station or if current station staff are also expected to assist with ticketing which enables these assistance hours to be in operation for longer periods throughout the day. Essentially we are seeking clarity on whether or not these stations will see an increase in staffing / staff presence or if this is clever reporting of the numbers to make it look like there is an increase in assistance at a station where in reality it is just reflecting the current staffing hours provided by station staff. Examples that should be investigated are Alexandra Palace, Ashtead, Balham, Battersea Parkm Bedford, Bognor Regis, Burgess Hill, Carshalton, Caterham, Coulsdon South, Crawley, Cricklewood, Eastbourne, Elstree & Borehamwood, Enfield Chase, Epsom, Falmer, Finsbury Park, Flitwick, Gipsy Hill, Harpenden, Hassocks, Hatfield, Heywards Heath, Hertford North, Hitchin, Horley, Hornsey, Horsham, Hove, Huntingdon, King’s Lynn, Lancing, Leagrave, Leatherhead, Letchworth Garden City, Lewes, Littlehampton, London Blackfriars, Mill Hill Broadway, New Barnet, Norbury, Nunhead, Oxted, Palmers Green, Peckham Rye, Polegate, Potters Bar, Purley, Queens Road Peckham, Radlett, Redhill, Reigate, Sanderstead, Sandy, Selhurst, Shoreham By Sea, South Croydon, St Albans, Stevenage, Streatham, Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Sutton, Thornton Heath, Three Bridges, Tooting, Tulse Hill, Wallington, Welwyn Garden City, West Hampstead Thameslink, West Norwood and Winchmore Hill. If this is clever reporting of the ticketing assistance hours then there should be a push back on the closure of these ticket offices as the staff will see their workload increase with no further support and this could impact on passenger and staff safety.
33. If as we suspect, the above stations where it appears that there is an extension of the ticketing assistance hours are actually just the station staffing hours, we assume that the other members of station staff already provide the proposed ticketing assistance as part of their role and that it is not a new addition or change to their way of working, if it is, then we would expect an agreement to be in place with the relevant trade union for these workers about their role
changing before the proposals can factor these staff members in. If this is a change of current station staff roles then the consultation itself is misleading as it would be based upon an assumption of a future agreement.
34.Further to point 32 there are also stations which will see the reverse and have a cut in the ticketing assistance hours, we would like clarity on the intended staffing levels at these stations and how this will impact on passenger safety and experience and whether this will result in unstaffed stations at certain times which could have an impact on our members operating services that stop at these stations. The stations to be investigated are Arundel, Billingshurst,
Cooden Beach, Emsworth, Pullborough, Rye and Warblington. With regards to Warblington the proposals seem to be completely de-staffing this station we are opposed to de-staffing of the railways so are opposed to the plans to close the ticket offices at these stations.
Great Western Railway Consultation Response
30.Thankfully Great Western Railway (GWR) have provided a good amount of information around their plans which unfortunately has been lacking from other operators. This has allowed us to get a clearer understanding of the potential impact of ticket office closures, this disparity in data provided to passengers operators should cause real concerns as to how fair the consultation actually is.
31.It is sensible that passengers will still be able to board a train to purchase a ticket on board particularly as two thirds of stations currently operate without staff.
32.The proposal from GWR reads as if the ticket offices will only close once sales drop below 15% if this is the case then plenty of the ticket offices would stay open until this threshold is met. However, the current proposals already have plans for stations with sales way above 15%, with plans to close ticket office windows between October 2023 and June 2024, it is not clear if the ticket offices will actually stay open if the sales stay above 15% of if the plan is to close them regardless of sale volumes. This needs clarity and we expect London TravelWatch and Transport Focus to seek this and seek to extend the consultation period to allow passengers to be in receipt of the full detail to be able to respond to the consultation.
33.We hold serious concerns around the following stations and the current proposals due to the volume of sales at the ticket office and the proposal to close their ticket offices.
|Station Name||Sales at Ticket Office||Ticket Office Windows||TVMS||Cash payment accepted by TVM|
|Camborne||19%||1||1||No (38% of payments made with cash)|
|Cookham (Only open 06:50-11:30)||31%||1||1||No|
|Weston Super Mare||29%||2||3||Yes|
|Windsor & Eton||38%||1||2||Yes|
34.The percentage of tickets sold at the listed stations is well above the ‘only’ 12% that has been quoted by the RDG to justify the ticket office closures. We have serious concerns around how the volume of sales will be handled by TVMs if the ticket office is to be closed at these stations. We assume the number of TVMs will increase and expect that the TVMs will be installed in a way that ensures congestion of the concourse does not become an issue. However these details have not been presented as part of the consultation. Further to this, Cookham sold over 30% of its tickets in 2022/3 at a ticket office between 06:50-11:30, currently there is only one TVM which cannot take cash payments and 12.8% of transactions were made with cash, presumably the staff will be taking cash payments or there are plans for a new TVM to be installed which can take cash payments, again as with other examples, we lack clarity on what this stations ticketing support will truly look like with the current proposals. Another station of note in the table above is Camborne due to the large volume of cash sales and the inability of the TVM to accept cash, the closure of this ticket office would seriously impact on the users of this station. For these reasons we expect our opposition to the closure of these ticket offices in particular to be raised as part of the consultation.
35.There are other serious concerns around accessibility at other stations, for example Worle station’s TVM is card only and there will only be a member of staff on hand to assist with cash payments between 06:00 – 09:00. Cash payments equated to 11.1% of transactions at this station, which considering could only be made in a three-hour window are quite high. We would expect work to be done to update the TVMs to accept cash payment otherwise these passengers will have to purchase on board and this could result in conductors carrying larger amounts of cash than they did previously due to an increase in on board cash purchases.
36.Yeovil Pen Mill currently only has 1 ticket office window and no TVMs. We assume that at least one TVM will be installed after the ticket office closes. Whilst the staffing times are due to stay the same it is not clear how potential congestion will be handled with staff providing the ticketing assistance at this station if they are standing on the concourse. Further to this 23.1% of transactions were made at this station with cash, the cash from these payments would previously be securely held in the ticket office, these payments will now presumably be in the hands of the staff at the station which could pose a safety concern for staff becoming targets if they are now carrying large quantities of cash. If the plan is for the staff to not take cash payments, this risk is shifted to on board staff and could potentially disincentivise rail travel to those who made the 23.1% of transactions at this station in 2022/3. There needs to be further consideration of the plan to close Yeovil Pen Mill as the current proposals could reduce accessibility and potentially passenger and staff safety.
37.Whilst these current proposals state that staffing hours will stay close to the same at a lot of stations, we would like clarity on whether the level of staffing is to stay the same or higher for the proposed hours at the following stations, as these are the stations at which driver only (DOO) operated services run. Bourne End, Goring and Streatley, Reading West, Thatcham, Theale, Tilehurst, Pangbourne and Windor & Eton Central. If the staffing level is to reduce at these stations, it could impact on passenger safety and could see our members running DOO services at unstaffed stations. This would also have an impact on passengers in need of assistance to access the network. This could lead to an extension of DOO without our prior agreement and due to the safety implications could lead to disputes.
38.Finally we are concerned that the following stations have a reduction in staffing hours and we need clarity on how this will affect the level of staffing at these stations as this could impact on passenger safety and those requiring assistance on the railways. Bristol Temple Meads, Exeter St Davids, London Paddington, Maidenhead, Newbury, Oxford, Reading and Slough. As these stations are potentially seeing a reduction in their staffing level we are opposed to their ticket office closures.
Greater Anglia Consultation Response
30.We note that Greater Anglia is intending to introduce ‘Customer Information Centres’ which will be able to sell all products. It is not clear however, how passengers away from these stations are able to purchase products which are not available via ticket machines or online. We note that the ticket machines are intended to be able to contact the customer contact centre in Norwich, we would like clarity on if that means, via contacting the contact centre that these passengers will be able to purchase other products or if they would need to be at one of the Customer Information Centres at Cambridge, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich or Stanstead. This could bar passengers from accessing certain tickets and products and lead to a loss of revenue for this reason we hold concerns with the current proposals.
31. Bury St Edmunds is cited as an example where the proposals currently operate, however Bury St Edmunds’ platform is elevated and requires a working lift for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility to be able to access the platforms, this requires an adequate level of staffing to be able to assist passengers and report lift faults to ensure that they are fixed swiftly. The current proposals however look to close ticket offices and reduce the station staffing hours. Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge North both operate staffing assistance above a lot of the proposed new staffing levels where ticket offices are being closed so we do not believe that using these two stations as examples of where the proposals ‘already operate successfully’ is fair as it is misleading to the current planned reduction in staffing. We are opposed to the unagreed reduction in staffing of stations and as such are opposing the ticket office closures.
32.Stations such as Audley End, Braintree, Clacton-on-Sea, Colchester Town, Great Yarmouth, Harlow Town, Hertford East, Hockley, Ingatestone, Lowestoft, March, Marks Tey, Rayleigh, Rochford, Waltham Cross, Ware and Wivenhoe are seeing significant reductions in staffing hours, this will have an impact on passenger experience, reducing the welcoming nature of the railway and could impact on our members as they will be driving services to stations that are de-staffed for longer hours of the day. Some of these stations are also leisure travel destinations, we know that travel patterns are changing after the pandemic and we have seen an increase in leisure travel, the reduction in staffing at these stations could lead to leisure travel stifling and undo the work that has been done to increase ridership as passengers arrive at unstaffed stations. Greater Anglia states that staffing at these stations will be based on their busier times, we would like to know if this will adjust as the railways grow and leisure travel increases or if this is a constant reduction in staffing levels based on the busier times at the time of consultation. We must oppose the closure of these stations’ ticket offices based on the current staffing plans.
33.Where some ticket offices are being closed or were already closed such as on Saturdays and Sundays, we note that Greater Anglia is now planning ‘regular’ visits from their mobile team, we would like clarity as to how these visits will be conducted and what the workers exact roles will be. We would also like clarity on what would constitute regular. Examples for Transport Focus to interrogate are Braintree, Frinton-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth, Hockley, Lowestoft, Prittlewell and Rochford, as all of these stations are losing regular staffing on either a Saturday or Sunday to be replaced by regular visits by a mobile team. This will impact on passenger accessibility as previously; a passenger knew the exact time that a station had staff present now they are reliant on ‘mobile teams’ being present when they intend to travel.
34.There are concerns amongst some of our membership that there are future plans to reduce the need for platform dispatch staff after ticket offices are closed and we need clarity as to the true staffing levels expected at stations as a result of these proposals. Ultimately the current proposals will lead to a reduction in staffing levels and this could have a knock-on effect of reducing both accessibility for passengers and safety for passengers and staff.
35.Greater Anglia highlights the availability of their contact centre in Norwich to be able to assist passengers with ticketing needs, we are concerned that the operator will lean too heavily on using the contact centre to replace staff and we would want to see the contact centre used in conjunction with station staff and not in place of. Ultimately, we see these proposals as a way to reduce station staff and are opposed to these plans due to the impact this will have on the railway as a whole and in particular to staff safety.
LNER Consultation Response
30.We note that LNER is taking a slower approach to its planned ticket office closures compared to other operators. We are concerned however that the proposed ticket office closures will lead to staffing reductions on our network and hope that Transport Focus and London TravelWatch are able to raise concerns from the consultation process and scrutinise LNER’s plans no-matter how measured they appear compared to other operators. If they will result in a de-staffing of parts of our network then we will stay completely opposed to the proposals.
31.We are concerned with LNERs plans to close Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Durham, Darlington, Grantham, Newark Northgate, Retford & Wakefield Westgate’s ticket offices with these stations only able to provide walk-up, advance and weekly tickets. This will disenfranchise the passengers that use these stations by removing the ability for them to purchase a greater number of tickets and we expect LNER to outline how they will address this at the stations affected. The current plans state that staff at these stations will assist passengers with online purchases or direct passengers to ticket offices / customer information centre, we need clarity on how this will function as the passenger would have to potentially pay to travel to Edinburgh Waverley, Newcastle, York, Doncaster, Peterborough or London King’s Cross to purchase any tickets which are not available online or at TVMs. If there are no plans in place outside of requiring a passenger to travel to another station then we can’t see how these closures could go ahead due to the impact they will have on the accessibility of the rail network for those who wish to use cash or purchase tickets not available online / at TVMs.
32.Whilst all ticket types will be purchasable at customer information centres there is a gap of what is available via online, TVM and on board trains with rovers & rangers and photocards only available at Customer Information Centres. We are concerned that as stated above the plan is to enforce ticket reform in reverse by closing ticket offices and by making it harder for passengers to access rover and ranger tickets operators will be able to justify their removal as a ticket option at a later date.
33.The proposals state that for each station affected the hours of staffing will stay the same with the current ticket office hours or the station will be staffed from first to last train with assistance with ticketing available during these times. We hope that Transport Focus and London TravelWatch can investigate if the level of staffing at Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Durham, Darlington, Grantham, Newark Northgate, Retford & Wakefield Westgate’s is to be maintained at the current level after the ticket office closes as if the number of staff at the station reduces which we are concerned of, there would be an impact on passenger and staff safety at these stations and for this reason we are opposed to the proposal.
Northern Trains Consultation Response
30.The plan to close 131 ticket offices and only keep 18 open with amended operating times will reduce accessibility on the network, reduces the attractiveness of the railway to passengers through a lack of staff being on hand to assist passengers with purchasing or by being a visible physical presence at stations ensuring that passengers feel safe, welcomed and know where assistance is.
31.The proposal for Journey Makers to be at stations but at lesser times than current ticket office staff are at stations will have an impact on passenger accessibility and passenger and staff safety, all 131 stations will suffer and see a reduction in their staffing levels, as such the proposals should be reconsidered.
32.The presence of journey makers will also be based on the current ticket office sales and station footfall which will mean that there is a reduction in staffing at the 131 stations where offices are closing. We would expect that this would be under constant review to ensure that Northern reacts to any changes in passenger behaviour but the plans for how journey makers will work on the network have not been laid out in any real detail. Ticket offices should not be closing if there isn’t explicit clarity on where the staff taking their place will be and at what time.
33.The current proposals will only leave Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool North, Bolton, Bradford Interchange, Glossop, Harrogate, Hartlepool, Leeds, Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Rochdale, Salford Crescent, Skipton, St Helens Central, Warrington Central & Wigan Wallgate ticket offices open. It is currently only at these 18 stations that cash and card payments will be able to be taken, passengers who wish to use cash to purchase a ticket will have to get a ‘promise to pay’ notice from a TVM before getting on a train and then purchase on board. We expect there to be clear signage to inform passengers of this as there will be a lack of staff at stations to assist and inform the passengers and passengers could inadvertently be punished with penalty fares.
34.We are concerned with the supposed reassurances from Northern that LED lighting and CCTV will be present at stations and help to deter crime in place of staff as the plan is to reduce their presence at station. We find this to be counterproductive, firstly as the presence of staff isn’t just to deter crime but to also assist passengers and secondly as a light and CCTV is not able to react to any incidents at stations whilst a member of staff at the station would be able to react and deal with an incident in a timely manner, this difference in physical reaction times could be the difference between life and death.
35.We have particular concern for the impact these proposals will have on our drivers and their health and safety on the network. Currently ticket office staff assist drivers in accessing facilities and personal need points, there is no detail on what level of access our drivers will have to these once ticket offices close and this could be a real issue at the following stations - Alderley Edge, Hazel Grove, Hebden Bridge, Hunts Cross, Huyton, St Helens Junction, Daisy Hill, Edge Hill, Swinton, Wilmslow, Altrincham, Chorley, Northwich, Earlestown, Newton-le-Willows, Burnley Manchester Road. The closure and de-staffing of these stations could have a serious impact on the safe running of services on the network if our drivers are no longer able to access the facilities and personal need points due to the impacts this can have on their concentration, this is an issue we highlight on World Toilet Day8and is traditionally a bigger issue for our freight drivers due to their long turns and time stopped away from facilities but these proposals could worsen conditions for our passenger drivers too.
36.We also have concerns for our members with the closure of Selby ticket office, there have been issues in the past with members waiting for taxis at this station which never arrived and there has even been an instance of a fake taxi turning up and attempting to pick up one of our members, thankfully this was stopped with the assistance of station staff.
37.We note that the equality impact assessments have not been completed for the stations proposed to close, this means that the consultation is not as open as it should be nor is the employer truly aware of the impact and even legality of their plans. We believe the consultation should be stopped to allow the equality impact assessments to be carried out in the first instance.
South Western Railway Consultation Response
30.We note that South Western Railway (SWR) is looking to close all stations following a categorisation model and we are concerned as this model will lead to de-staffing of parts of the network. We also hold concerns as to the impact this will have on passenger accessibility as well as passenger and staff safety.
31.Currently there are 36 stations which are category 4, these will continue to be unstaffed and sell tickets via TVMs. There are 97 category 3 stations and these will have one colleague available to support passengers with ticket purchasing however, when these stations are due to be unstaffed, passengers are expected to use the video call facilities on the TVM, this presents a potential accessibility issue as not all TVMs are currently fully accessible to passengers. Further to this point we are concerned with the impact station de-staffing will have on passenger safety and accessibility at the following category 3 stations on Fridays and Saturdays: Addlestone, Ash, Bagshot, Bedhampton, Brentford, Chessington South, Clandon, Datchet, Esher, Ewell West, Farncombe, Feniton, Frimley, Fulwell, Hampton Wick, Hinchley Wood, Hinton Admiral, Hook, Liphook, Milford, Mortlake, Netley, Overton, Oxshott, Parkstone, Pokesdown, Portchester, Shepperton, Sherborne, St Denys, Sunbury, Sway, Tisbury, Tolworth, Totton, West Byfleet, Whitchurch, Whitton, Winnersh Triangle, Wool, Worcester Park, Worplesdon.
32.There are also proposals for de-staffing on Sunday and Monday at the following category 3 stations: Ash Vale, Bentley, Berrylands, Bookham, Branksome, Byfleet & New Haw, Camberley, Chandlers Ford, Chertsey, Chessington North, Chiswick, Christchurch, Claygate, Cobham & Stoke D’Abernon, Crewkerne, Earley, Hampton, Hamworthy, Hedge End, Hersham, Horsley, Hounslow, Liss, London Road Guildford, Lymington Town, Malden Manor, Micheldever, Motspur Park, New Milton, North Sheen, Romsey, Rowlands Castle, Shanklin, Stoneleigh, Strawberry Hill, Swanwick, Swaythling, Teddington, Templecombe, Thames Ditton, Upper Halliford, Winchfield, Winnersh, Witley, Woolston. We are also concerned as to the impact this de-staffing will have on accessability and safety at these stations.
33.We do not believe there is enough detail in the consultation on the staffing levels that will be present at the category 3 stations named above and expect Transport Focus and London TravelWatch to raise these concerns and objections to the planned ticket office closures at these stations due to the impact this will have on the safety and accessibility of the network.
34.There is a commitment for a minimum of four colleagues during busier times at 33 category 2 stations. We would like further detail on how these busier times will be decided and how they will be monitored to ensure that if travel behaviours change, an appropriate level of staffing is present at these stations. Without this detail a fair consultation cannot take place on the proposals.
35.As not all tickets are purchasable at TVMs or online we note that SWR is intending to introduce a new ticket that allows passengers to travel to a category 1 station where these tickets will be purchasable without any cost to the passenger to make this journey, it does however bring a cost with it, in terms of the time that passengers must spend making a journey to make a ticket purchase for this reason, we do not believe that it is a practical solution. This is listed as an interim solution, however it should not be necessary for a passenger to travel to another station just to purchase the ticket they require and more work should be done by SWR to update TVMs and the online system to make all tickets available before they consider closing ticket offices.
Southeastern Consultation Response
30.We note that Southeastern is looking to close its ticket offices in phases with this current consultation being for phase one. The fourteen busiest stations are to get ‘travel centres’ in place of ticket offices which will provide travel info and ticketing solutions whilst medium and large sized station ticket offices, where agreed will close potentially leaving stations with fewer staff. We need clarity on how the stations with fewer staff will operate and how this reduction in staffing will impact on passenger assistance and passenger and staff safety, for this reason we oppose the closures and expect London TravelWatch and Transport Focus to push back on this lack of detail.
31.The current phase will see nearly all stations within the London fare zones closed with the exception of St Pancras International, London Charing Cross, London Bridge, London Victoria, Bromley South and Dartford. We understand the proposal here due to the use and availability of Oyster/contactless payments at the London fare zone stations, however we are concerned that Southeastern is not recruiting new staff but plans to re-deploy staff from ticket office closures to fill in at stations which are currently unstaffed due to vacancies. We are glad that 18 of the smaller stations which were unstaffed via vacancies will now be staffed, we are however disappointed that this redeployment takes away the staffing levels and resilience at other stations and there needs to be more clarity from Southeastern on the detail of these proposals as in their current form they will reduce passenger accessability and impact of passenger and staff safety.
32.There are two stations which are listed to have their ticket office closed which have seen sales way above the figure quoted to justify their closure. These stations are Knockholt (23%) and New Cross (27%). Knockholt’s office is only open between 06:00 and 10:30 and during this time 23% of ticket sales are made via the ticket office which is currently planned to be closed, consideration needs to be given as to whether the proposed staffing level is sufficient to meet the demand here as moving the staff member from out of a ticket office means they may be tied up with other tasks and unable to complete all the transactions which they would have been able to fulfil when based in the ticket office. New Cross currently has 2 TVMs but only 5% of purchases are made through these with 27% of purchases being made via the ticket office, again clarity needs to be provided as to whether the staffing proposals will be sufficient to meet the demand safely and not lead to any unnecessary congestion on concourses or platforms as passengers queue or congregate around the staff members. We do not believe the closure of these two ticket offices can be justified when their current sales are so high.
33.Outside of the London fare zone stations Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Rochester, Hastings, Ashford International, Canterbury West, Margate and Dover Priory are set to have their ticket offices changes to ‘travel centres’ yet there is no detail on the proposed staffing hours or levels in the proposals, we assume the intention is for these staffed hours to stay the same at the least but as Southeastern is intending to change the function of the ticket office at these stations this details should have really been included and we would ask that Transport Focus push for these details to be published and shared to enable a fair assessment of the operator’s plans, without these details we do not believe the consultation process can be considered to have been fairly run.
34.Whilst Southeastern’s proposals show that, at some stations, the proposed staffing hours will be above the current ticketing office hours we believe this is a deliberate misleading comparison to make it seem as though there will be an increase in staffing and their availability at these stations. We would expect London TravelWatch to push back on these comparisons and seek the true number of staff as well as their hours under current ticket office hours and the level of staffing and their hours under the proposals. We suspect that, and in fact Southeastern has openly stated, there will be a reduction in staffing levels. This is listed to happen at their medium and larger sized stations, the detail on the true staffing level at these stations has not been presented to respondents and for that reason we believe that London TravelWatch should raise concerns with the ticket office closures at the stations in the London fare zones.
TransPennine Express Consultation Response
30.The current plans to close 14 ticket offices and reduce the staffing times at 9 stations will have a detrimental impact on passenger accessibility and could have further implications to passenger and staff safety. At a time when Transpennine Express is finding its way having been brought under the DfT’s control via the operator of last resort, we do not believe that it is sensible for the DfT to be forcing through ticket office closures.
31.The current proposals will see ticket office opening times reduced at Manchester Airport and Huddersfield stations we do not believe these are sensible proposals. Manchester Airport is scheduled to have its ticket office shut 7.5 hours earlier and will be reduced to just one ticket window whilst Hudersfield’s station is having its hours reduced by 5 hours and will also only have 1 ticket office window. We believe that the inconvenient truth for the DfT is that both station’s ticket offices are in high demand accounting for 40% of TPE’s ticket office sales. It appears that the aim is to make it more inconvenient for passengers to use the one ticket office window to try and force passengers to use TVMs and purchase online, this could deter passengers leading to a loss in revenue and impact on safety through congestion from passengers queueing up for TVMs and for the one ticket window.
32.Currently 67% of tickets sold at ticket offices are available at TVMs, there are planned upgrades for 97% of tickets to be available, however these tickets should be available at all TVMs before there are any plans to close ticket offices to avoid passengers struggling to purchase the other 33% of tickets which are only available at ticket offices and after these proposed closures would potentially only be available at Manchester Airport and Huddersfield stations
which TPE is planning to close in 2024.
33.Stations that are seeing their ticket offices closed are also going to have their staffing hours reduced, we have concerns around the impact this will have on accessibility and safety at Grimsby, Northallerton, Malton, Scunthorpe,
Stalybridge and Thornaby. As such we are opposed to the current proposal to close these stations as the reduction in staffing will have a detrimental impact on passenger accessibility and passenger and staff safety.
34.The reduction in station staffing and closure of ticket offices at Brough, Cleethorpes, Dewsbury, Grimsby Town, Hull paragon, Malton, Middlesbrough, Northallerton, Scarborough, Scunthorpe, Selby, Stalybridge, Thirsk and Thornaby will seriously impact on the turn up and go service for passengers using TPE.
35. The current proposals state that if a passenger is only able to pay via cash they are able to board a train and buy a ticket when it is possible, however it is not clear where this leaves passengers that are intending to make a part cash and card payment and could leave them liable for a penalty fare, there needs to be explicit clarity on the plans for passengers to make part card / cash payments for tickets after the ticket offices have closed.
36.Ultimately the current figures on ticket purchases do not match the plans to shut 14 ticket offices. Presently only 69% of purchases are made digitally for journeys to or from TPE staffed stations it is not clear if the ticket office closures will enable the other 31% of purchases to be made still or if it will ultimately result in lost revenue, this appears to be a poor business strategy which is driven by the DfTs desire to close all ticket offices regardless of their usage levels outside of the London transport zones.
37.At a time when FirstGroup has lost their contract to run TPE’s services in part due to their abuse of P Coding and with a combative attitude to staff which has resulted in industrial action, the move to close ticket offices is the complete opposite of what is needed to resolve the disputes and further encourage passengers to use the railways.
West Midlands Trains (West Midlands Railways & London North Western)
West Midlands Railways
30.Ultimately we see these planned ticket office closures as a way to reduce staffing at stations and note that the proposals state that unstaffed stations will now have new mobile teams deployed to them, it appears that these staff members will be sourced from the ticket offices which will close at Aston, Berkswell, Bescot Stadium, Blake Street, Bournville, Bromsgrove, Butlers Lane, Canley, Chester Road, Coleshill Parkway, Coseley, Cradley Heath, Dudley Port, Erdington, Five Ways, Four Oaks, Gravelly Hill, Hagley, Hall Green, Hamstead, Hampton-in-Arden, Jewellery Quarter, Kings Norton, Langley Green, Lea Hall, Lichfield City, Lichfield Trent Valley, Longbridge, Malvern Link, Marston Green, Northfield, Old Hill, Olton, Perry Barr, Redditch, Rowley Regis, Sandwell & Dudley, Selly Oak, Shenstone, Shirley, Small Heath, Smethwick Galton Bridge, Smethwick Rolfe Street, Spring Road, Stechford, Stourbridge Junction, Stourbridge Town, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sutton Coldfield, Tame Bridge Parkway, Telford Central, The Hawthorns, Tile Hill, Tipton, Walsall, Widney Manor, Wolverhampton, Worcester Foregate Street and Yardley Wood. This ultimately means that the staff members at the listed stations will now be moving around the network to visit other stations. This will ultimately reduce the level of staffing at the stations where ticket offices are planned to close, unless West Midlands Railway is planning on hiring extra staff members. This staffing reduction could have an impact on passenger accessibility and passenger and staff safety, it is for this reason that we need clarity on the true proposed staffing levels at these stations, without this detail we do not believe it is fair for these ticket offices to close as respondents do not know what the stations will look like in terms of staffing once the ticket office closes.
31.We are seriously concerned that these proposals have been put forward without the plan for mobile teams being properly worked out. The proposals state that staff deployment plans are expected to be developed, yet a consultation is being run on the ticket office closures which will lead to staff becoming part of this deployment plan. We believe this lack of clarity for respondents does not allow for a fair consultation as respondents do not know the full detail of the plan for staffing after ticket offices close.
32.As mentioned above, there is no clarity on the staffing hours of the mobile teams, we just know that they will be roving around and assistance will be managed by the customer information centres or if not pre-booked and there is not a roving member of staff present, it will be the conductor's responsibility to assist. We wonder how much consideration has been given for any passenger attempting to use turn up and go, waiting for assistance from a conductor at a station where the roving member of staff is not currently present. In this instance the conductor may need to move down the platform to assist a passenger boarding and this could lead to potential delays to services if ramps are required which are not ready and waiting as would be the case with a member of staff at the station. As the proposals admit, these roving staff members could lead to unstaffed stations which weren’t unstaffed before so we wonder how much consideration has been given to staffing cover for passenger’s trying to use turn up and go as they may now find themselves at a station that is unstaffed when it wasn’t before. For these reasons we believe the planned closures at the listed stations should be halted whilst clarity on station staffing is sought.
33.The closure of Selly Oak and Kidderminster the 4th and 9th busiest stations run by West Midlands Railway in 2022, causes us concerns. The current proposal just states that the mobile team will be deployed on a flexible basis, ideally there should be clarity on what the level of staffing at these busy stations will be once the ticket office is closed. It seems from the current proposal that the current staff at WMR will be stretched thin by having them move around the network, whilst this may improve staffing levels at some stations it will reduce it at others. Selly Oak has a ticket office that is open from 06:00 – 21:00, based on these proposals the assumption is that there won't be the same staffing level from 06:00 – 21:00 but it is not clear what the staffing level will actually be or at what time of day the current staffing levels will be maintained, this impacts on passengers planning their trips. Whereas currently they know the opening hours and the times at which they can easily receive assistance from a designated member of staff at a designated area the current proposals could leave passengers guessing about staffing levels and reduce accessibility on the network.
34.As has been highlighted, the current proposals can lead to greater workloads for conductors and we assume that West Midlands Trains has not carried out the appropriate analysis of how these changes will impact on conductors as these have not been published and has most likely not appropriately consulted with the recognised trade union first before putting these proposals out for consultation. If this, as we suspect, is the case, then the consultation should be halted for the new staffing plans for the mobile teams to be worked out and for an analysis on how these plans will impact on staff with discussions between West Midlands Railway and the unions representing the workers who will be impacted to take place first. These changes to staffing could also impact on our members due to their on-board crew member taking on a greater workload whilst they could potentially be stopping at more unstaffed stations than they previously did.
London North Western
35.Unsurprisingly, the plans for London North Western mirror that of West Midlands Railways. We are therefore concerned with the plans to close the following ticket offices Adderley Park, Apsley, Berkhamsted, Berkswell, Bescot Stadium, Canley, Coseley, Dudly Port, Hampton-in-Arden, Hartford, Kings Langley, Lea Hall, Leighton Buzzard, Lichfield City, Lichfield Trent Valley,Marston Green, Northampton, Nuneaton, Sandwell & Dudley, Smethwick Galton Bridge, Smethwick Rolfe Street, Stechford, Tame Bridge Parkway, Tamworth, Tile Hill, Tipton, Tring, Watford North, Winsford, Wolverhamptonand Wolverton. There is a lack of detail as to what the staffing level of these stations will be after the offices close nor is there detail on at what time these stations will be staffed, this could leave stations which a currently staffed at specific times, unstaffed. This could have a detrimental impact on passenger accessibility as well as passenger and staff safety with the turn up and go service being degraded.
36. The four stations which will see their ticket offices turned in to Customer information centres were chosen due to their size and strategic placing for passengers to travel from, to or through to enable them to purchase tickets, particularly if the TVMs aren’t sufficiently upgraded in time. We do think that at the very least the TVMs should be sufficiently upgraded first before ticket offices are closed but ultimately the staff should be on hand and able to sell all products and assist passengers alongside TVMs.
37.The proposals state that ‘ticket stops’ are being seen as a long-term solution for customers who cannot or do not want to use bank card payment or digital ticketing. This seems to be an outsourcing of the operator’s responsibility to handle cash transactions. We have concerns that this will lead to lost revenue through the third-party making profit from ticket sales. We are also concerned that this third-party will not have sufficient knowledge to assist passengers and will not be sufficiently knowledgeable on the railway or services to be able to, firstly properly assist a potential passenger with purchasing a ticket and also be the first impression for potential passenger that West Midlands Trains would want, as ultimately the third-party will have other priorities which supersede rail ticket sales.
38.As with West Midlands Railways, conductor workloads could increase, and we echo the concerns raised under point 34 for London North Western