Railway bingo arrives at kiosks

Proposed ticket office closures impact the vulnerable

Train operators’ proposals to close almost every staffed ticket office at stations across the UK, under the banner of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), state that only one in eight tickets was bought over the counter between 2021 and 22. But that figure still adds up to a staggering 124 million journeys, many of which were only possible thanks to the existence of staffed offices. Once those kiosks and staff are gone, the only options will be to book online or use a ticket vending machine. This, for many elderly and disabled travellers, including the blind or partially sighted, will be difficult and, in some cases, impossible. The RDG said in a statement that customers “will always be able to access in-person help at a station,” claiming they aim to redeploy staff to wider roles at stations and passengers can actually expect more “face-to-face support”. Unions dispute this claim, with RMT leader Mick Lynch saying the proposed closure of up to 1,000 ticket offices is “catastrophic for elderly, disabled and vulnerable passengers trying to access the rail network.” He added that travellers will be “forced to rely on apps and remote mobile teams to be able to assist them rather than having trained staff on stations.” The ticket office closures are still to be officially signed off by the government but could begin as soon as October and be completed over a three-year period. Up to 2,000 jobs will be cut, which Mr Lynch described as a “savage attack on railway workers, their families and the travelling public.” Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) interim (joint) general secretary Peter Pendle says ticket office closures will mean elderly and disabled people without easy access to the internet will struggle to get tickets at the best price, and that railways will become “less safe for lone travellers, particularly women and the young.” Further controversial RDG plans to switch to driver-only trains, which would mean guards being removed from services, may also increase fears for vulnerable passengers, should they encounter a problem on the platform or the train.

More Like This

Get a free copy of our print edition

August / September 2023, Surveys

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.