Five mayors set to take legal action against rail office closures

The proposed closures include offices at London Waterloo, London Euston, Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly.

Cormac Pearson
Tuesday 18 July 2023 05:13 BST
Five mayors across the UK are preparing to take legal action in midst of ticket office closures (PA)
Five mayors across the UK are preparing to take legal action in midst of ticket office closures (PA)

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and four other mayors are preparing to take legal action against train operators in an effort to stop the closure of just under 1,000 ticket offices.

Industry body Rail Delivery Group drew up plans to close the offices across the country and will move onto station concourses to assist passengers there.

This includes offices at some of the UK’s busiest stations, such as London Waterloo, London Euston, Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly.

Writing in the Daily Mirror, Mr Burnham said: “For the good of the country, it’s a campaign we must win.

The rail operators may be fronting up these plans but make no mistake - the Government is standing behind them and handing over the axe.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham

“If the Government and the rail industry get their way, it will erode what remains of public trust in travelling by train – and hasten Britain towards a faceless, soulless society.

“We do not believe the train operators have taken the required steps in law to make a change on this scale and hear the voices of those most affected. We believe we can stop them in their tracks.”

The group of mayors includes: Mr Burnham, the mayor of Liverpool City-Region Steve Rotheram, the mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin, the mayor of South Yorkshire Oliver Coppard and the mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson.

Mr Burnham said the office closures will make it more difficult for people with disabilities and elderly people to travel by train.

Last week in the House of Commons, transport minister Huw Merriman faced stiff warnings over closing the offices but said: “99% of all tickets can be purchased over a ticket machine or online.

“Then in terms of the 1% that we then need to work on, as part of this process, I have charged the industry and officials to speed up the process so that more can be purchased in that particular manner, and changing ticket machines so that can occur.”

He said the approach has taken into account passengers with “protected characteristics”.

Mr Merriman added: “Crucially, no currently staffed stations will be unstaffed as a result of this reform.

“Staff will still be there to provide assistance and additional support to those who need and want it.”

Mr Burnham said a 21-day consultation on the plans were not long enough to consider the full implication of the closures.

He said: “When I look at how our railways are run, it seems to me that those in charge are on a mission to run them down and turn passengers away so they can just focus on the most profitable parts.

“The rail operators may be fronting up these plans but make no mistake – the Government is standing behind them and handing over the axe.”

According to the Mirror, the group of mayors will take legal action against Thameslink, Northern, LNER,  TransPennine Express, Greater Anglia, Avanti and EMR.

The mayors will speak to media on Tuesday morning.

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