UNISON members who use the Southern Rail network are strongly encouraged to sign the petition linked below. This is to tell rail parent company Govia to keep local ticket offices open. Many local examples such as Worthing, Horsham, Shoreham, Crawley, Chichester, Bognor Regis and Barnham are under threat of closure, or opening hours so reduced as to seriously impact on passengers.
Southern and Thameslink score consistently badly as train operators with poor performance and reliability and delays. Removing staff from public facing roles will only serve to worsen customer satisfaction levels at a time when the company should be doing everything possible to improve them. There is also a risk that ticket office staff will lose their jobs.
It is complete madness to close National Rail ticket offices when these poor performing operators also score consistently badly in terms of value for money.
All the evidence suggests that passengers trust and ultimately prefer to buy tickets from ticket offices. Ticket vending machines are confusing and still do not offer the cheapest fares or the range of tickets available at ticket offices. Crucially they do not offer ‘Easit’ discounts which will render that scheme meaningless, and discourage rail travel where passengers have non-rail options.
The proposals underestimate demand for tickets and specifically the one-to-one advice passengers need to purchase the correct tickets from what is an unintelligible system of multiple companies, fares and discount cards. For a tourist the proposals will be a nightmare.
Simplified ‘Oyster Style’ smart ticketing that has been promised for years to be rolled out across the South East is still a distant dream. These ticket office closures will cause more passenger misery for the millions of passengers who use these operators every day.
Busy stations such as those above are hub points for passengers renewing rail cards and season tickets. Reducing the windows for these transactions will put additional pressure on passengers seeking regular tickets from a trained member of counter staff.
There are additional concerns about – not only the impact on disabled passengers who will only perceive (and very likely experience) further barriers to their travel on the rail network – but general passenger safety, given the nature of late night custom near town centre stations which often sees people returning /arriving for nights out at clubs and pubs.
There is a consultation open until midnight on 13 March 2016. For details of how to respond to that and a full list of the 84 stations under threat please visit the RMT website.
Please sign and share the petition and tell Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd to keep our ticket offices open.