The Department for Transport and the 13 train operating companies it manages have announced plans to close almost all staffed ticket offices in England, totalling nearly 1,000, following changes to the Government’s guidance relating to ticket office opening hours and operation.
Statutory consultations began on 5 July and were originally set to close on 26 July – after just 21 days.
A Notice of Motion brought before Knowsley’s full Council meeting tonight endorsed action taken by Knowsley Council’s Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader of The Council – Cllr Graham Morgan, to write to the Secretary of State for Transport and the Chief Executive of Network Rail to formally record Knowsley’s opposition to the proposed closures and in particular the offices at Huyton, Roby, Broadgreen, Prescot, Whiston and Halewood.
The Council has taken the stance it has as ticket offices provide a vital service to residents in Knowsley and supports passenger safety, security and accessibility.
Furthermore, by having a central place in the station for people requiring advice and assistance provides certainty and confidence for customers who may struggle to otherwise locate station staff and also acts as a point of safety for passengers.
At many stations, access to facilities such as toilets and waiting rooms is reliant on ticket office staff.
The closure plans fail to acknowledge that not all residents are able to use ticket vending machines or online ticketing platforms. Many journeys require human assistance to ensure customers purchase the most appropriate and cheapest tickets, and do not incur penalties from mis-booked tickets. Ticket office staff have a wealth of knowledge which ensures that customers get appropriate advice for their whole journey.
Knowsley Council firmly believes that the closure of ticket offices will disproportionately affect disabled, deaf and older residents in Knowsley, as well as those with poor literacy and IT skills or on lower incomes. The Council also notes the possible implications for current station staff and believes that the closure of ticket offices could lead to a de-staffing of rail stations.
Such is the public outcry over the closure proposals and the limited three week consultation period, a five and a half week extension to the consultation was announced on the day it had been scheduled to originally close.
Residents and rail users now have until 1 September 2023 to have their say and the Council would encourage as many people to do so as possible.
You can find out more about the plans, and how to share your views, on Northern Rail’s website.