Closed petition Require train operators maintain ticket offices at railway stations
It has been reported that railway tickets offices across the country will be closed or repurposed. We want the Government to require train operators to maintain ticket offices at railway stations, to enable passengers to purchase tickets and get advice over the counter.
We believe ticket offices have a vital role to rail passengers. As well as ticket sales they give help & advice on travel & carry out assistance & cycle reservations bookings, which can be difficult to book online or over the phone.
Some passengers can't purchase tickets online, and closing ticket offices is likely to create accessibility problems for the elderly, people with disabilities & overseas visitors.
Surveys have shown passengers want staffed stations, and the Government should act to protect ticket offices.
This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months
This response was given on 19 December 2022
We want train operators to improve the station experience by providing more active support. To propose ticket office changes operators must follow the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement process.
Read the response in full
Ticket office usage has reduced substantially in the last decade. The Plan for Rail White Paper outlines the modernisation needed to improve the passenger experience and to ensure the railways are financially sustainable. Together with industry we want to move staff out from ticket offices and into the wider station where they can provide more face-to-face help and assistance to passengers.
The Government recognises the multiple functions that the ticket offices around the country provide, including enabling passengers to purchase tickets, providing help and advice, and carrying out seat and cycle reservations. Where a train company does suggest a ticket office closure, we expect train operators to consider how these functions will continue to be provided as part of the proposal they put forward under the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (TSA) process. Section 6-18 of the TSA sets out the process that train companies must follow to make such proposals and is publicly available on the Rail Delivery Group’s website (https://www.raildeliverygroup.com/our-services/rdg-accreditation/ticketing-settlement.html).
Alternative retail options are now available in most cases, including ticket vending machines, pay as you go ticketing and online retailing and digital tickets. We recognise that not everyone has access to these retail facilities or is able to use them, and we expect train operators to take this into account when making a proposal.
With staff in more mobile roles they can provide additional support to those who cannot or do not want to use alternative retailing options. They will be able to advise on journeys and timetables as well as help customers to buy tickets or access other services. The passenger assistance scheme will continue to be in place to help passengers with additional needs use the rail network with confidence and in safety.
To propose any changes to the opening hours or the closure of ticket offices, train operators must follow the process set out in section 6-18 of the TSA. This will involve a public engagement, with train operators required to put notices at stations advising passengers of proposals and what any changes could mean for them. Train operators are also required to contact other operators and the passenger bodies directly under 6-18 of the TSA. If passengers have objections, these can be raised via the passenger bodies (Transport Focus and London TravelWatch) for consideration within 21 days of the notice being posted. The passenger bodies will then determine based on all the evidence if they approve or object to the proposed change. Should the Passenger Bodies object to the proposal it could be referred to the Secretary of State for Transport for a decision. A decision will be made based on the requirements in 6-18 (1) of the TSA and the relevant guidance.
As part of this process, train operators are specifically required to take into account the adequacy of the proposed alternatives in relation to the needs of passengers who are disabled and include this in their notice of the proposal sent to other operators and passenger groups. We would also expect operators to consider other equality related needs and make this clear in their public engagement.
Department for Transport
Other parliamentary business
Government questioned on plans to close rail ticket offices
On 6 July, MPs questioned the Government on plans to close rail ticket offices
MPs discussed the possible consequences for passengers of plans to close hundreds of rail ticket offices across the country.
The Government has said that:
- The proportion of people using ticket offices to buy tickets has fallen in ten years from one in three, to one in ten
- Many staff work in ticket offices but could better serve passengers on platforms and concourses
The Government also said the changes are about modernising the passenger experience, and that any station which is currently staffed will remain so, and staff will be there to provide support to those passengers who need it.
Government responds to related e-petition
On 14 July the Government responded to a petition entitled Require train operators keep ticket offices and platform staff at train stations. In its response the Government said that the rail industry must modernise to provide the service that passengers deserve and that train operators were consulting passengers on the proposed changes.
What is an Urgent Question?
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A relevant Government minister has to come to the Chamber to explain what the Government is doing on the issue raised. The minister will then usually take questions on the subject from MPs.
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Railway ticket office closures examined by MPs
On Wednesday 13 September, there were two items of Parliamentary business on railway ticket office closures in the House of Commons:
A Westminster Hall debate led by Chris Loder MP
An evidence session held by the Transport Select Committee.
Watch each one, read the transcripts, and access relevant Parliamentary research:
What are Westminster Hall debates?
Westminster Hall is the second Chamber of the House of Commons.
Westminster Hall debates give MPs an opportunity to raise local or national issues and receive a response from a government minister. Any MP can take part in a Westminster Hall debate.
Debates in Westminster Hall take place on ‘general debate' motions expressed in neutral terms. These motions are worded ‘That this House has considered [a specific matter]'. This means that Westminster Hall debates don’t end in a vote on a particular action or decision.
What is an evidence session?
An evidence session is when a group of MPs - called a committee - invite experts and people with experience of a certain issue to answer questions about it. This helps the committee understand more about the issue.
MPs raise concerns about proposed rail ticket office closures
MPs on the Transport Committee have written to the Rail Minister, Huw Merriman MP, with concerns about the proposed closures of rail ticket offices and the impact this could have on disabled travellers and travellers with access needs.
The letter was written as part of the Committee's ongoing inquiry into accessible transport, and follows an evidence session the Committee held on Wednesday 13 September, focusing on proposals to close ticket offices across the rail network.
The Committee's inquiry on accessible transport is looking at legal obligations to ensure accessibility apply to transport operators and local licensing authorities across different modes of transport, and whether these are being met.
What is the Transport Committee?
The Transport Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that look into the work of the Department for Transport.
Find out more about the committee and its work: Transport Committee.
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