Henry Smith MP has welcomed confirmation that the Department for Transport – following a meeting with the Secretary of State, Mark Harper – has decided that Rail Delivery Group proposals to close train station ticket offices and move staff to station platforms, concourses and ticket halls do not meet the high thresholds set by Government: and therefore, in a boost to local rail passengers, should not go ahead.
This intervention follows Members of Parliament raising their concerns over the proposals including the Crawley MP making a formal submission to Transport Focus, who ran a consultation on behalf of rail operators, in July.
“I’m acutely aware of the legitimate concerns over the plans put forward by the Rail Delivery Group on the effect they would have had on people who are digitally marginalised.
“My submission to the Transport Focus consultation earlier in the year made clear there was no case to close ticket offices at any train station in Crawley – it is welcome that the views of those Crawley residents who contacted me on this important subject have been respected and adhered to.”
Over the summer, public consultations were held on proposals to reforming train station ticket offices, with plans for staff to be moved from behind ticket office screens so that more help and advice could be provided in customer-focused roles.
Since the launch of the consultations the Minister of State for Rail, Huw Merriman, maintained that no currently staffed station should be unstaffed as a result of the changes, and made clear that the consultation must be an open and genuine process, with changes needing to deliver the highest quality of service for all users of the railway.
Following the engagement of ministers including listening to concerns raised by Members of Parliament, in addition to meetings with accessibility groups and passenger bodies, it become clear the ticket office proposals do not meet the high thresholds set by the Government.
The Department for Transport therefore communicated to the rail industry that their ticket office reform should not proceed, with ministers expecting train operating companies to now withdraw their proposals and for no ticket offices to close.
Govia Thameslink Railway, operators of Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern services, have confirmed that all proposals have been withdrawn and will not be introduced.