TSSA – the union for railway ticket office staff – has called on the government to immediately scrap plans to close almost every ticket office on England’s railways.
The union today wrote to Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, after it was revealed by Transport for London and Transport Focus that close to 700,000 people had responded to the consultation on the future of ticket offices.
TSSA’s Interim General Secretary, Peter Pendle, told Harper that the 680,000 responses had been ‘unprecedented’ with very few likely to be in favour of the Conservative government’s plans which 'have caused uproar’.
Pendle goes on to state in the letter - ‘At a time when passengers are crying out for a fair deal the government seems intent on delivering a post-pandemic body blow which tears down our railways. I'm afraid this is a failure to read the room’.
He calls on Harper to ‘take the necessary steps without delay to halt these deeply unpopular and unnecessary plans for good’.
The full text of the letter is as follows -
Dear Mr Harper,
I’m writing to share my serious concerns about plans to close nearly every railway station ticket office in England.
As you know, the consultation led by transport watchdogs Transport Focus and London Travel Watch has now closed, after receiving an unprecedented response from the public.
Nearly 700,000 people have taken part in the consultation, and I think we can agree that very few will be in favour of plans which have caused uproar since they were revealed.
The Times reports ‘It is the biggest ever consultation response, surpassing the government’s 2012 equal marriage review which attracted 228,000 responses and the 2016 one on the BBC Charter, which was answered by 192,000 people and organisations.’
As we’ve seen the number of people vocalising their opposition to the plans relentlessly climb over the last few months, TSSA has also been hearing countless firsthand stories of people who rely on ticket offices every single day.
Disability and pensioner groups are reeling, their independence and safety under threat. Thousands of rail staff are going into work with redundancy looming over them. Families already facing the brunt of the cost of living crisis are wondering how they will locate the best ticket prices without the steady hand of dedicated ticket officers.
At a time when passengers are crying out for a fair deal the government seems intent on delivering a post-pandemic body blow which tears down our railways. I'm afraid this is a failure to read the room.
In the meeting you held with TSSA in November 2022, you stated that our railway system must represent a “fair balance for the taxpayer and passengers” - closing ticket offices is in the interest of neither.
It's vital that you take the necessary steps without delay to halt these deeply unpopular and unnecessary plans for good. As ever I am happy to meet for further discissions about the way forward.
Interim General Secretary