The closure of railway station ticket offices will have an “unacceptable impact on Londoners”, according to a member of the London Assembly today.
The Rail Delivery Group, under the cover of a very brief public consultation, is implementing the staff-cutting ticket office closures at the behest of the Tory Government. Around 1,000 stations across the country could lose their ticket offices under the porposals.
This week, Charlie King, the chair of the East Surrey Transport Committee, together with representatives of other public transport groups, attended a meeting of Govia Thameslink Railway, the operators of Southern and Thameslink services.
At the meeting, King put forward a set of 24 questions centred on the ticket office closure proposals.
“I got very few answers,” King told Inside Croydon.
With time running out on the short-notice, briefly-held consultation, King suggests that as many people as possible put forward some or all of these questions as they respond to the RDG’s bogus consultation.
THE QUESTIONS THE RAIL OPERATORS DON’T WANT YOU TO ASK
- Government consultations are usually three months. So why just three weeks and via a third party? Is this to circumvent agreed and legal processes?
- Why have you not published the percentage of tickets sold at the Booking Offices station by station? Other train operating companies have.
- The RDG press release states 12per cent of tickets are sold at booking offices. What is the full range across the network?
- Will each station have the same number of staff?
- What is the benefit? If we have the same person from the ticket office outside the
ticket office – no cost saving but probably reduced customer service.
- Why are large stations included in this where use of ticket office is well in
excess of 12per cent, such as London Bridge, St Pancras, Victoria, East Croydon and
Brighton? Even TfL in its closed system has a number of travel centres.
- The ticket office machines can sell a wider range of tickets than the public machines. Will the ticketing assistant/seller have access to the same equipment as the booking office?
- Will the ticketing assistant/seller be able to sell the full range of tickets?
- Will the ticketing assistant/seller be able to print tickets that have been sold online?
- Will the ticketing assistant/seller be able to print tickets or sell only e-tickets so passengers need a smartphone to travel?
- Will the ticketing assistant/seller be able to sell Oyster and Keycards?
- Will the ticketing assistant/seller be able to top up Oyster and Keycards?
- Will the ticketing assistant/seller be dependent on direct fixed electrical connections or
on wifi? Wifi is just not reliable enough for critical systems.
- If the ticketing assistant/seller is unable to issue a ticket, will they be able to issue a permit to travel, so passengers do not receive a penalty fare?
- Where will the ticketing assistant/seller be positioned? Many stations – such as Caterham and South Croydon – have very little room. The ticketing staff should not be in a location that blocks the barrier.
- How will the ticketing assistant/seller deal with cash transactions and how will they
keep cash secure?
- Will the ticketing assistant/seller also assist passengers with reduced mobility on and off trains?
- Existing ticket vending machines – TVMs – don’t sell all tickets, will they sell Advance, Boundary Zone. CIV (Eurostar tickets) Plus Bus as separate transaction?
- Will the number of TVMs be increased?
- Who will be responsible for maintaining and replenishing TVMs?
- Some existing TVMs fail to work in bright sunlight or extreme cold and wet. How will you deal with this?
- The announcement says the transition will be phased. How?
- If timetables change in future, will station hours be changed to suit?
- Does this really save any money?
King said today, “The RDG consultation is badly thought-out, it is hurried and seems to save no money.”
Today, the Labour’s Transport spokesperson at the London Assembly, Elly Baker, called the planned closures “an indictment on the Government’s failure to properly invest in our railways”.
Baker says that the closures would make travel much more difficult for many passengers, and particularly affect disabled passengers who many need assistance, not only in buying tickets, but getting on and off trains and on to the platform.
The consultation, Baker said, “paints a worrying picture for staff and for those who rely on face-to-face support – especially disabled passengers”.
Baker said, “It’s clear from the reaction of the public and passenger organisations that these changes are not welcome and will have an unacceptable impact on Londoners.
“The Government needs to get honest about what these changes actually mean in terms of job losses and the removal of support for paying passengers – especially disabled people.”
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