Category: Ticket Offices

Liz Warren-Corney

We don’t want “convenience”, we want service - Terry's story

Close up of a hand holding a train ticket on a train

Terry is 80 years old, a retired bank worker, a father and grandfather, living in London. He told us why he disagrees with ticket office closures.

I don’t like the idea of ticket offices closing. If you want information, you can’t always get it off a board or a ticket machine. You need someone who can find an answer for you.

It’s so much easier when you can just ask someone, and they give you the right answers. Ticket machines are machines by the definition of the word. Not even fitting them with AI will help.

I’ve got a Freedom Pass for London and a Senior Citizens Railcard. If I go to a ticket office and they combine the cards I can get out of London to visit my daughter in Canterbury, and back again for £20.90 – and the return half is valid for a month. If I buy it online it’s £24.85 for the same journey.

A Ticket machine will only ask for 1 card – it doesn’t want to know if you’ve got 2 discount cards. No, it only wants 1 and which one do you choose?

If you go to a ticket office, they know exactly what to do. You just pay and present them with the cash, it’s all done and sorted, no faffing around.

You go to a machine it’s a case of which one does it want? Does it want a credit card, a debit card, a railcard, a Freedom Pass, both, neither? It’s too confusing. You don’t know exactly what the machine wants.

So, there you are, standing around at the machine, looking for help and whenever you want someone to talk to, they’re the other side of the station. All your help’s disappeared!

If you’ve got someone behind a ticket office window, you’ve got someone waiting for the next customer.

Take them away, more than likely you’ve got loads of people milling around, all asking questions of someone else who doesn’t know.  

The railways say ticket machines are “convenient”. Well, it’s “convenience” gone too far. We don’t want “convenience”, we want service. That’s what the railways should be giving - service to the customers who pay their bills.

If rail companies take the service away, people aren’t going to want to look at a machine and figure it out, they’ll get their car out.

It defeats the purpose of getting people out of their cars. There’ll be more cars on the road and more traffic jams.

The train takes cars off the road but to do that people have to want to go on the train. That means you’ve got to have customer service and that’s someone selling tickets because they can answer your questions.

We’ve got an aging population. I’m one of them. I’m pretty good with technology, but when it comes to discount tickets and whatever I’m lost. Someone in the ticket booth knows what to do. They’ve been trained and they can answer questions you’ve not even thought of till you get there.

With a Freedom Pass and a Senior Citizens Railcard you need to take both of them to get the discount. The person behind the counter knows what to do. Does the machine know what to do? Is there a facility on the machine to take more than one discount pass?

I’ve been a Tory voter all my life. All my life. But now they’re getting rid of the ticket offices, I just think “what a load of merchant bankers!”

Come the next election I’ll vote Labour rather than Conservative. Things have gone from bad to worse since we came out of lockdown. I’ve been telling everyone I think the Tories’ll be out. A lot of people will lose their seats and it’ll do them some good.    

We don’t need more ticket machines we need real people in the ticket offices.


A row of cartoon people in various railway company uniforms. they are a wide range of ages, races and a mix of male, female and non-binary. One is in a wheelchair, another has an LGBT + pride flag badge. One has a hijab and another is wearing a turban. Text reads "Our Rail Our Future, Your Ticket Offices , Keep Them Open." in white on red and blue background.

Our Rail Our Future - Ticket Offices Campaign

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