The Leader of Worthing Borough Council, Cllr Dr Beccy Cooper, highlighted the essence of having ticket offices and wrote a letter to the Government of the United Kingdom to look into the matter again. She also urged rail operators to reconsider plans to close ticket offices.
Under the proposed plans, ticket offices would permanently close nationwide and locally at Goring, Durrington, West Worthing and Worthing. Station staff will be available to help passengers on train station concourses only.
Train operators have launched a public consultation on the proposed changes, and local provider Southern said that the move “supports its wider moves to modernise the railway, put customer service at its heart and offer a more varied and interesting role for colleagues”.
In her letter to the operators, Cllr Dr Cooper highlighted that ticket offices provide services that are not available at station vending machines, including season tickets, refunds, disabled person discounts and cash payments.
Cllr Cooper said: “We strongly believe that should these plans go ahead, passengers’ access to rail services and best value fares would be hugely impacted.
“Disabled people and the elderly, in particular, already face significant barriers to accessing the rail network, and these proposals would only worsen them. Interaction with the ticket office staff is often vital for these groups. At many stations, access to facilities such as toilets, accessible toilets, waiting rooms and lifts is dependent on help from the ticket office staff.
“Ticket office staff are trained and experienced in dealing with difficult incidents, and the presence of staff deters abusive and anti-social behaviour, meaning they are crucial to passenger safety. ‘Roving’ staff will be much harder to locate and will not present the same deterrent.
“In terms of cost-effectiveness, it is difficult to see how train operators would be able to demonstrate that their proposals would make cost savings unless there is the intention to reduce staffing. I am wholly opposed to any cuts to station staffing, and this cannot be used to justify a policy that will worsen passenger service, accessibility, safety, security and access to rail services.”
Train passengers and residents have until Friday, 1st September, to have their say on the proposed changes.