We Own It, Bring Back British Rail, along with rail unions ASLEFand TSSA will protest against ticket office closures at the Department for Transport today (Tuesday).
The organisations, which represent rail workers, public service users and passenger interest groups will hand in an open letter to the Department for Transport (DfT) which asks the government to scrap “disastrous” plans to close almost all railway station ticket offices in England.
The government’s plans to close most ticket offices across all the DfT rail companies in England would make thousands of jobs redundant and has been widely criticised by pensioner and disability groups. Over 460,000 responses have already been received to the consultation, reflecting an unprecedented level of public interest.
Cat Hobbs, We Own It director said, “No one, except the profiteering private rail firms, stands to benefit from this disastrous decision to close such a vital service that so many different kinds of passengers depend on, especially disabled and older passengers. The rail companies are showing exactly why they should never be trusted with our railway.
“A railway system that is run for people, and not profit, would put the experience of rail users first. This plan puts the profits of private railway companies first. Instead of closing ticket offices, let's open more. Instead of putting the profits of private companies before passengers, our polling shows the public wants our railway taken into public ownership.”
Peter Pendle, TSSA Interim (Joint) General Secretary, said, ““The closure of ticket offices affects everyone, especially vulnerable passengers and those with disabilities and additional needs. It’s cruel, cynical and unnecessary and the government needs to shelve the plan completely.”
Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, said, ‘It is clear that government-driven lies about redeployment have been shown to be false and it will be the travelling public and the future growth of the railways that will be damaged by these cuts. Disabled people will be forced off the system; tourism will be damaged; and the safety of every passenger, and every member of staff, will be compromised. Stop the cuts now.’
The consultation closes on September 1.
Notes to Editors
The protest will take place on Tuesday 29th August 10:00 to 11:30
Mick Whelan - ASLEF
Mel Taylor - TSSA
Jenny Kidman - Passenger
Paula Peters - Disabled People Against Cuts
Noeleen Grattan - KONP Haringey (solidarity)
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Rt Hon. Mark Harper MP,
We, the undersigned rail passenger organisations and rail workers unions, are writing to ask you to intervene and scrap the disastrous plans to close almost all railway station ticket offices in England.
At a time when the government should be working to make rail an attractive public transport option for the public, we should be seeing plans to open new ticket offices in stations without them, rather than plans to close the ticket offices that we do have.
With England’s complicated and fragmented ticketing system, ticket offices currently provide all kinds of rail users, not just those that lack digital skills or a smartphone, with support to purchase the right tickets for their journey.
As the Sunday Times has recently reported, owing to the complexity of our ticketing system, these proposed closures will likely result in the average rail passenger paying more for their rail fares than they currently do. Further research by the Association of British Commuters has shown that this could mean passengers in London paying up to double what they currently pay for day trips outside London.
What is worse, these proposed closures likely do not fulfil the government’s statutory equalities duty. As a recent letter to the Office of Rail and Road and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, signed by key disability rights activists and passenger support groups suggests, this move “is sure to have a disproportionate effect on disabled people and put them at ‘substantial disadvantage’”.
Finally, this move removes key staff from our train stations and therefore undermines the safety and wellbeing of rail users and will leave remaining staff overwhelmed and without adequate support.
In order to keep the cost of running our rail stations under control, the real solution is to cut the profit-greedy private rail operators out of the system and run our trains for people, not profit. Cut their profits, not our ticket offices.
We call on you to row back on these harmful plans to close ticket offices.
Peter Pendle - Interim (joint) General Secretary, TSSA
Cat Hobbs - Director, We Own It
Mick Whelan - General Secretary, ASLEF
Ellie Harrison, Director, Bring Back British Rail