Ruth writes to South Western Rail over planned ticket office closure

Ruth Cadbury MP
House of Commons

24th July 2023

Re: Closure of Rail Ticket Offices in England

I am writing to express my concern over proposed plans to close rail ticket offices and to reduce staffing levels in a number of stations in my constituency.

As you know the Rail Delivery Group announced plans to move staff out of ticket offices and into stations, with the consultation on these significant changes to last just 21 days.

I’ve already heard from several constituents who are greatly concerned about the impact that these changes will have, particularly upon individuals with disabilities or reduced mobility. You will be aware that one in nine tickets are still sold at physical ticket offices and that this represents over 150 million journeys recorded over the past year.

Staff in ticket offices and at stations provide crucial advice in helping passengers get the cheapest fare, and also in helping to provide support them when they face disruptions, difficulties or problems with their journey. It is crucial that all rail passengers can continue to get that advice and support. I recently took part in a journey with a charity which demonstrates that challenges facing disabled individuals who use our railway. During this visit I witnessed first-hand just how difficult our transport network is to navigate for those with disabilities, including neuro-diversity and learning disabilities.

I am particularly concerned to see the local impact of these changes as Brentford, Chiswick and Hounslow stations will see a reduction in the hours at which the station is staffed, including a significant cut at Hounslow station. I’m very concerned about the impact that this will have on passengers locally, many of whom have already seen an uneven and poor service on South-Western Rail over the recent years.

Additionally the proposal to close the ticket office at London Waterloo will have a huge impact on the many rail users who use the station, and which includes a large number of my constituents.

Given those serious concerns for my constituents, I would appreciate answers to the following questions:
• What will happen to the rail staff currently deployed in rail ticket offices in my constituency?
• What will the impact be on their job security?
• What will the impact be of ticket office closures on the safety and accessibility of the local rail network for disabled and elderly passengers?
• When will digital and pay as you go ticketing technology be available across the whole of your existing network?
• What guarantee is there that there will not be further service reductions of station staffing in future?
• What influence has the government had on these proposals?
• Will on-station staff be able to sell all ticket types and process cash transactions?
• Will tickets be able to be purchased at Waterloo on the train-side of the barrier? At Clapham Junction, where and how will passengers buy tickets?
• How and where will passengers find out that there is a Cat 1 station on their route?
• Will disabled passengers and others who are mobility impaired such as with heavy luggage or small children be required to get off a train, and then on one at a Cat 1 station if they are travelling between 2 unstaffed stations, to buy a ticket?
• What level of knowledge and expertise will those remaining on station platforms have? Will they be able to carry out a full service to passengers around tickets, timetable information and access on and off trains?

It is vital that staff have clarity about their job security and that vulnerable passengers have certainty that they will not be forgotten about as changes are made to the way our stations operate. I have long been worried that both rail companies and the Government are not fully appreciating the impact that these changes have on people across society.

I look forward to receiving more information on your plans to protect both passengers and staff in my constituency.

Yours sincerely

Ruth's signature
Letter summary
Ruth writes to South Western Rail over planned ticket office closure