More than 460,000 people have responded to a consultation on controversial plans to close most railway ticket offices in England, it has been revealed.
The figure was announced by watchdogs London TravelWatch and Transport Focus with a week to go before the consultation ends on Friday September 1, following an extension from July.
London TravelWatch chief executive Michael Roberts said: “With more than 460,000 responses received already, it’s clear that there are strong views on the future of ticket offices.
“With a week still left to have your say, it’s not too late to submit a response about your local station.”
Over the coming weeks, the two watchdogs will continue to analyse the train operator proposals and consultation responses before they report their decisions on whether to support or object to the plans.
They said they will be considering issues such as whether the station will continue to be staffed, accessibility, the alternative options for buying tickets, and whether passengers will continue to be able to access facilities like lifts, waiting rooms and toilets.
Rail unions and passenger groups have launched campaigns against the plans, warning they will particularly affect disabled and elderly passengers.
Natalie Turner, deputy director for localities at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “The proposed closure of up to 1,000 railway station ticket offices across the country risks increasing levels of social exclusion for millions.
“The move will have a disproportionate and negative impact on a wide range of passengers who struggle to access services online, including some older and disabled people, people on lower incomes, and people in rural communities.
“Advancing technology can improve some customers’ experiences but for many it won’t replace the level of support able to be provided by a person.
“This move will undoubtedly deter many from travelling by train, including the more than one in four people aged over 65 who do not own a smartphone and the one in five people, rising to almost one in two among those of pension age, who are disabled.”
– Details about the consultation can be found at https://www.raildeliverygroup.com/uk-rail-industry/customer-focused-reform/customer-focused-stations.html
Transport Salaried Staffs Association president Melissa Heywood said: “460,000 is an unprecedented turnout, which shows that the public are firmly against the Government’s plans.
“Mark Harper (Transport Secretary) needs to read the room. His cruel and unnecessary plans are being voted down. He should scrap the idea right now.
“The consultation is open till the first of September. We urge anyone who has not yet done so to take part and make it clear that the proposals to close ticket offices are unacceptable.”