NEWS.CATEGORY: Political

TSSA calls for urgent government meeting over rail ticket office closures

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TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has written to Grant Shapps asking for an urgent meeting and calling on the Transport Secretary to ‘come clean’ over reports all rail ticket offices in England face the axe. 

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that a secret plan has been drawn up to begin the closure programme as soon as September.  

Writing to Shapps, union boss Cortes says - ‘closing ticket offices and moving to online-only sales would badly impact millions of elderly, disabled and disadvantaged people who are unable, or far less able, to use online services, yet still need to access public transport. 

‘These proposed closures are in no-one's interest and make a mockery of your so called Great British Railways reforms. 

'With trust at rock bottom between rail workers and bosses, what you are doing, in effect, is further entrenching our dispute with you which is not only about jobs, pay and conditions but the future wellbeing of our rail network’. 

The full text of the letter is as follows -  

Dear Grant 

I’m writing to ask for an urgent meeting in the light of media reports at the weekend which show the Government is planning to close every ticket office on the railways across England. 

It’s vital that our union is able to discuss these troubling plans with you, so they can be properly evaluated and scrutinised given the extreme position you seem to be taking. It’s also important that you are upfront and come clean with the British public, millions of whom place great value on booking offices being open and fully staffed. 

As I have stressed to you before, closing ticket offices and moving to online-only sales would badly impact millions of elderly, disabled and disadvantaged people who are unable, or far less able, to use online services, yet still need to access public transport. 

Properly staffed ticket offices play a vital role both at stations and in our communities, allowing everyone to use our railways and keep passengers safe in the way that empty, or partly empty, stations never could. 

Our union has been asking for clarity on rumours about ticket office closures for months, but no proposals have been shared with us, or the staff who work day in, day out serving passengers. 

Let me be clear, closing ticket offices across the country would be a grave misstep, undermining the whole notion of a people’s railway, because people need ticket offices and ticket office staff. These proposed closures are in no-one's interest and make a mockery of your so called Great British Railways reforms. 

Our members know passengers will be outraged if you were to go ahead with these plans. With trust at rock bottom between rail workers and bosses, what you are doing, in effect, is further entrenching our dispute with you which is not only about jobs, pay and conditions but the future wellbeing of our rail network. 

I want to state again that I’m happy to meet you and other Ministers to discuss the above, and how we can build an economic recovery from Covid which does not require savage cuts. 

Yours sincerely 

Manuel Cortes, 

TSSA General Secretary 

 

TSSA is currently balloting members over strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over jobs, pay and conditions at several rail companies – Network Rail, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast, Northern, LNER, Southeastern, Great Western Railway and C2C.  

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