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.

More details

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.

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Government responded

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.

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

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