The Government’s scheme to close around 1,000 railway station ticket offices has not quite yet hit the buffers. But it has certainly been sent down a side track, as the Rail Delivery Group this morning announced that they are to extend their consultation period by more than a month.
Midnight tonight was supposed to have been the deadline on the suspiciously brief consultation period – one of the points which had attracted threats of High Court legal challenges from disability groups, rail unions and some city mayors, including Manchester’s Andy Burnham.
The watchdog London TravelWatch says it has already received 170,000 representations from the public over the proposed ticket office closures.
It was just after 11am that London TravelWatch received formal notification from the Rail Delivery Group that the consultation will now be extended until Friday, September 1.
Passenger groups said the Department for Transport – who are pushing for the widespread job cuts that ticket office closures would bring – had been “spooked” by the threat of legal action.
More than 150 ticket offices in London are under threat, according to Evening Standard research, including 65 on Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern routes, 40 on Southeastern and 35 on South Western Railway.
They include the ticket offices at East Croydon, South Croydon, Purley and the Coulsdon stations.
At the end of the extended public consultation period, Transport Focus and London TravelWatch will have 35 days in which to discuss the proposals and representations. At the end of that period they may object to particular proposals. The train companies then has to decide whether or not to proceed.
If they opt to proceed contrary to an objection, the matter must be referred first to the Secretary of State for Transport.
All previous submissions already received will be counted and there is no need to resubmit comments, London TravelWatch said this morning.
Michael Roberts, chief executive of London TravelWatch, said: “We’ve received more than 170,000 comments already.
“It is important that a diverse range of views from all parts of the community are heard in this consultation.
“Unfortunately some train companies did not provide people with complete and accessible formats from the start of the consultation period. This has meant that some people may have been prevented from being able to respond to the proposals.
“New comments received will be read, considered and used in discussions with train companies in the coming weeks.”
- For more information on the consultation, and to submit your own comments if you have not done so already, click here
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