Closure of rail ticket offices rejected by passenger watchdogs

April 19, 2016 9:00 AM
By Cllr Malcolm Cowan

TrainsThe plans by local train operator Govia for closing ticket offices outside the morning rush hour and relying on 'Station Hosts' has been rejected by both rail watchdogs, London Travelwatch, whose brief covers London and its surrounds out to Hitchin, and Transport Focus, which covers the rest of the Govia network.

London Travelwatch received over 8000 responses including almost 150 from WGC and Hatfield. They concluded 'In the light of the uncertainty and the additional feedback we have received, the Board felt that it was not able to support the proposals at the moment. It suggests GTR should develop a more considered proposal which could be piloted at a few carefully chosen stations.'

Transport Focus summed it up that they oppose the proposal.

Libdem councillor Malcolm Cowan who highlighted the issue in the Welwyn and Hatfield Times said 'The watchdogs were concerned about how little time was given to the consultation, and the lack of sufficient information. The amount of public response, given the lack of time, is astonishing.

When I met with other rail user groups recently, most said there was the germ of a good idea here, by having staff available for much longer, but an alarming lack of detail and specifics for each station. Many of us were not satisfied all the ticket types and information currently available from the ticket office would be available from the machines. That could easily lead to passengers paying over the odds for what are already very expensive tickets.

I hope Govia note the lack of support, and go back to a phased introduction based on full information,so that lessons are learnt and applied in order that we get the best and not the worst of this idea.