Passengers Welcome Move to Curb Closure of Rail Ticket Offices

Article excerpt

Byline: NICHOLAS CECIL

PASSENGER groups today hailed a victory in the battle to stop the mass closure of ticket offices by rail companies across London and the South-East.

They welcomed the decision by transport minister Lord Adonis to order the capital's biggest rail operator, South West Trains, to scale back plans to cut ticket office opening hours at 114 stations.

SWT expressed "disappointment" that most of its proposals had been rejected, though more limited reductions in opening hours will be allowed.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, said: "This is a victory for the thousands of passengers who stood up and told the Government they didn't want to lose their ticket office staff.

"The Department for Transport has supported our call that train companies can't get away with blanket closures as passengers tell us they need staff for security, journey advice and ticket sales."

Jo deBank, of London TravelWatch, said: "This is a good victory for passengers. They value the human interaction." Unions had warned that if the Government had failed to act, several other train firms would have axed manning at many stations.

The Evening Standard has called for better staffing on the rail network through its Safer Stations campaign.

The transport minister stepped in to protect passengers from the "unacceptable" cuts. Amid rumours that the train company has already started limiting ticket office opening hours, Lord Adonis stressed today that SWT would be expected to "fully and consistently" staff stations according to his ruling. …

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