Ticket office closures consultation set to be extended after public backlash

The head of Network Rail said an extension to the consultation would be a sign the Government and train operators ‘want to hear more from passengers’.

Matthew Cooper
Wednesday 26 July 2023 11:28 BST
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch speaking at a rally outside King’s Cross station, in London, over planned ticket office closures (Jonathan Brady/PA)
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch speaking at a rally outside King’s Cross station, in London, over planned ticket office closures (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

A three-week public consultation on plans to close nearly all railway station ticket offices in England is expected to be extended, the chairman of Network Rail has said.

Train operators unveiled proposals earlier this month for mass closures of station ticket offices after Transport Secretary Mark Harper urged them to cut costs.

Consultation on the plans was announced on July 5 by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which said staff would move out of ticket offices, adopting new “customer help” roles already in place on many parts of the railway.

The RDG said the proposals would mean more face-to-face support was available across the network to choose the cheapest tickets and advise on journey planning, as well as support those with accessibility needs.

The plans have drawn fierce criticism from groups representing passengers and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT).

Speaking at Birmingham’s New Street station on Wednesday, after reports the consultation may be extended until September, Network Rail chairman Lord Peter Hendy said: “I think you are going to find in an hour or two that the consultation is going to be extended.”

He told BBC Breakfast: “If it is, that’s a really good thing for our customers because the railway ought to listen to its passengers and the people who use it.

“I hope that that’s the case. I think that’s what you might find is announced, and if it is that’s another greater, longer opportunity for people to say what they think.

“I know that people will listen and I think the extension of the consultation is a sign that actually Government and the operators want to hear more from passengers.

“There are obviously some loud voices – I have seen some of them on the media this morning.”

Lord Hendy’s comments came a day after RMT general secretary Mick Lynch claimed railway workers are being threatened with disciplinary action for wearing stickers as part of their campaign to save ticket offices from closure.

Writing to train operator LNER, Mr Lynch said: “I have received very disturbing reports from members at your company who are being threatened by managers with disciplinary action and being sent home without pay as a result of them wearing ‘save our ticket offices’ stickers.

“Threatening staff who are fighting for their very futures and for the services they provide in this way is a quite disgraceful tactic to use and I can advise you that any moves to discipline any RMT member for having a simple statement on a sticker will be met with a full industrial response.

“If a genuine and meaningful consultation process really is to be followed in this process, then surely this would include allowing the very staff whose future employment is threatened to voice their opinions.”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in