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TSSA call on Department of Transport to halt closures to booking offices

4 February 2016

Manuel Cortes calls for government intervention and for passengers to contact their MPs to complain about delays and staff shortages on Govia Thameslink services.

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, is calling on Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin to intervene and stop the proposed programme of ticket office closures across Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express. 

He is urging Govia Thameslink passengers to contact their MPs and complain about the new rail operator's management of the south-eastern network which it operates on behalf of the Department of Transport.  

Fifteen stations have been earmarked for a "first phase" of closures with the famous station names of Alexander Palace, Tooting, Battersea Park, Wandsworth Park and Streatham Hill all currently set to lose their booking offices. 

And further phases of closures are set to follow with more than 80 ticket offices, north and south of the Thames affected and, up to 130 job losses forecast.  Consultation between the TSSA representatives and Govia Thameslink begins in London today (Thursday 4 February).

Govia Thameslink makes u 22pc of the country's entire rail network and its commuters were revealed to be the unhappiest in Britain last week by the Transport Focus Passenger Survey.

Almost 40pc of Govia Thameslink passengers were reported to be fed up with their current service which ranks bottom for punctuality, value and in dealing with delays. 

The survey also revealed passengers wanted to see more staff employed at stations and on carriages to deal with their enquiries more effectively. 

"Govia Thameslink took over the running of this service in July last year and in just six months they have been named and shamed for having the unhappiest passengers in Britain.

"Making customers unhappy is beginning to look like their business plan because passengers will whole load unhappier yet if these ticket office closures and job losses ago ahead.

"Govia Thameslink passengers’ demand for more staff on stations and on carriages was loud and clear. More staff would help them deal with the difficulties they face whilst commuting - from negotiating the ridiculous fare tariffs, to journey advice, to explaining delays - as well as adding to feelings of security. So these proposals to close ticket booking offices and axe staff, fly in face of both passenger demand and interests. 

"Govia Thameslink manage this service on behalf of the Department of Transport so the buck on this one does stop with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin who is supposed to ensure the service is  run in the public interest but as the corporate need to  squeeze every drop of profit out of passengers means they are managing and absolutely  a staggering decline in service on the busiest network in the country.

"It is an unacceptable state of affairs and is becoming a cause of national embarrassment. I urge passengers to contact their MPs asking them to intervene to stop these closures and make sure their dissatisfaction is heard in Parliament and to the Department of Transport who have the power to terminate Govia Thameslink's contract."

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