London Underground ticket office closures start today

Queensway and South Wimbledon are the first stations to remove ticket office staff

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Indy Politics

Transport for London’s tube transformation plan begins today with its first wave of underground ticket closures.

Queensway and South Wimbledon are the first stations to remove ticket office staff and force passengers to use machines. Seven other stations including Embankment, Upminster Bridge, and Shepherd’s Bush are earmarked for modernisation in February, with 270 stations following in the next 14 months.

TfL’s controversial plan, which aims to save £50 million annually and £4.2 billion by 2020, has faced opposition from tube workers and led to strikes last year by the Aslef and RMT unions.

In a statement released on its website, RMT’s General Secretary Mick Cash, said: "Today is the day when ‎Mayor Boris Johnson not only rips up his promise to Londoners to retain ticket offices but also rips up the safety rule book and kicks off a closure and de-staffing programme that will turn the tube into a criminals' paradise.”

Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, also criticized the Mayor for “rushing through the closures” and revealed that "talks on the safety implications of closing over 250 stations have not even been concluded".

TfL said all stations would remain staffed and 150 new ticket machines would be installed by April 2016. However, the cuts in ticket office staff would result in the loss of 900 jobs between now and 2016.

Nick Brown, London Underground's chief operating officer, said only three per cent of tube tickets were bought at ticket offices. TfL’s proposed transformation is part of a “wider vision for the Tube, which includes a 24-hour weekend service on core parts of the network".

Brown said: "Throughout this year, passengers will see further improvements at stations, including more staff in ticket hall, on gate lines and platforms where they can offer the best possible assistance."