To Whom It May Concern
We are writing to express our firm opposition to the proposed closures of ticket offices across England. As passengers and concerned members of the public, we stand alongside TSSA, the rail union, in opposing these changes and we urge you to reject these plans in order to protect the interests of passengers and rail workers.
The closure of ticket offices creates very significant challenges and below we have highlighted some of these crucial issues which warrant urgent reconsideration:
1. Job Losses
The proposed closures will result in a significant loss of ticket office jobs, affecting as many as 1,923 rail workers. Axing these vital customer facing jobs will have profound impact on the livelihood of these hardworking workers and their families, adding to the growing concern of job security amid a cost of living crisis. The government and employers should be supporting the labour market, rather than axing essential jobs fuelling poverty and causing harm to staff’s mental and physical health as a result of these plans.
2. Impact on Accessibility
Disabled passengers heavily rely on ticket office staff for essential assistance, such as boarding or alighting from trains, obtaining a Disabled Persons Railcard, and planning accessible journeys. The Passenger Assist scheme depends on station and on-train staff availability, and the ticket office staff often play a pivotal role in providing this support. With the closure of ticket offices, disabled passengers may face increased difficulties in accessing the railway and obtaining necessary services.
3. Digital Exclusion:
A significant portion of the population, particularly older citizens, financially vulnerable individuals, and those lacking digital skills or internet access, as well as visually impaired passengers will be adversely affected by the proposed ticket office closures. Without the option of purchasing tickets in person, these groups may face barriers and digital exclusion, leading to reduced travel opportunities and isolation from the community.
4. Community and Safety Concerns:
The closure of ticket offices may disproportionately impact vulnerable groups, including the elderly, low-income individuals, and those without access to cars. Reduced travel opportunities can lead to increased isolation and unhappiness, particularly in rural areas where loss of bus routes is already a concern. Moreover, the visible staff presence provided by ticket offices contributes to passenger security and personal safety, especially at smaller rural stations. With reduced staffing levels and more lone working, passenger concerns about safety may escalate.
We are sure you will recognise how important it is for the public and rail workers to have confidence in your governance and management of the railways. Your plans to close ticket offices have genuinely generated a backlash from commuters and members of the public way beyond our estimations. The future of rail looks bleak if the guiding principles continue on the current path of cost cutting, redundancies, and reduction of the quality of service offered to the travelling public.
Britain needs a world class integrated transport system, with a high quality modern railway at its heart. This will never be achieved if the Government and RDG continue pursuing the managed (and at times seemingly unmanaged) decline of our railways.