Rail ticket office closures 'going ahead'

 

The Government was accused today of pressing ahead with plans to
close hundreds of railway station ticket offices even though ministers
insist no final decision has been made.

Internal emails between Department for Transport staff, leaked to the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), revealed that closures are going ahead, said the union.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle raised the emails in the Commons today, saying: "I have here a leaked email dated just two weeks ago from the civil servant responsible for the rail fares and ticketing review. It says: 'The minister has already decided to approve some ticket office closures, it's just not been announced yet. There will be more of those in the future'.

"What's worse, she then admits that ministers plan to pin the blame for these closures on the train companies, saying: 'Your way of slipping in there that the initiative comes from the TOCs (train operating companies) not us is very neat'."

She asked Rail Minister Theresa Villiers: "Will you now own up and admit that you've already given the green light to these closures which passengers won't find very neat but very inconvenient and very expensive?"

Ms Villiers insisted no decisions had been taken.

"You are talking about the proposal from London Midland. That proposal is being considered but no final decision is made on those proposals."

TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: "This is proof-positive that ministers have already decided to close 675 ticket offices while passing the public blame on to the private companies.

"They know they would never get this decision through the Commons so they are planing to bypass Parliament and do secret deals with the companies as they agree new franchises.

"They haven't even got the courage of their own convictions. These emails reveal a blatant attempt to hoodwink passengers over where the real blame lays when their ticket offices close. And the duplicity of the civil servants shows that Sir Humphrey Appleby is alive and well and living in the DfT."

The closures are recommended in the DfT-ordered report compiled by Sir Roy McNulty, which contains a number of options for cash cutting across the UK rail network.

The Government is expected to announce its decisions later this year.

The emails include a draft press statement sent to an official on April 5, which reads: "The government has no plans to close ticket offices, but as ticket buying habits change, we expect train operators to consider how best to deploy their station staff to provide the most benefit to passengers.

"This will reduce the cost of running the railways for both fare payers and taxpayers and help to end the era of inflation busting fare rises.

"We recognise that passengers can feel very strongly about ticket office opening hours, and before we could agree to any changes put forward by operators we would need to be confident that passengers would continue to enjoy ready access to ticket-buying opportunities."

The official replied: "We can't say the Government has no plans to close ticket offices because we have an application from London Midland where the minister has already decided to approve some ticket office closures (it's just not been announced yet while we're concluding £ negotiations with LM) and there will be more of those in the future.

"If you take that out the rest is ok and your way of slipping in there that the initiative comes from TOCs not us is very neat."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...