TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has written to Grant Shapps asking for details of government plans to close hundreds of railway ticket offices across England.
The story, broken by the Sunday Times, has not been denied the Department for Transport.
Cortes, in his letter, calls on Shapps, as Transport Secretary, to provide ‘details of these plans, so they can be properly evaluated and scrutinised’.
He goes on to say - ‘I have no doubt that passengers will be outraged if you were to go ahead with what seems to be wholly counterproductive cuts to ticket offices’.
And raises the prospect of widespread industrial action - ‘we would have no hesitation in issuing ballots for industrial action and I’m sure we won’t be the only union doing that.
‘As things stand your much vaunted ‘Great British Railways’ reforms run the risk of becoming nothing more than a Great British Farce’.
The full text of Cortes’ letter to Grant Shapps is as follows -
I’m writing to you about very concerning media reports over the weekend relating to the future of ticket offices across England.
The Sunday Times reports ‘Rail industry leaders are in talks with the government about closing hundreds of ticket offices as part of the modernisation of the network’, something, I note, which has not been denied by your Department.
I think it’s imperative that you now come clean and let the travelling public and our union know the details of these plans, so they can be properly evaluated and scrutinised.
I’m sure you are aware that 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.
I have no doubt that passengers will be outraged if you were to go ahead with what seems to be wholly counterproductive cuts to ticket offices.
Keeping these facilities open in their current form, and retaining their present opening hours, is the best way forward for passengers - especially for women, those with young children, the elderly, anyone with a disability, the digitally excluded and any other vulnerable groups.
Not only that, a properly run and fully functioning railway is vital in building an economic recovery from Covid. Taking £2 billion a year out of the rail budget, what your government is doing, flies in the face of such a recovery.
Moreover, I want to stress that if media reports are correct and we see an extensive programme of closures then jobs will be at risk, raising the threat of compulsory redundancies.
If that were to happen, we would have no hesitation in issuing ballots for industrial action and I’m sure we won’t be the only union doing that. As things stand your much vaunted ‘Great British Railways’ reforms run the risk of becoming nothing more than a Great British Farce.
TSSA General Secretary’