Rail office consultation is ‘total and utter chaos’

Lewes Train Station ticket office closure SUS-160402-090632008
Lewes Train Station ticket office closure SUS-160402-090632008

The rail union has said public consultation over plans to axe and downgrade 81 rail station ticket offices across the south appears to have kicked off in “total and utter chaos”.

The consultation began last Monday and will continue for three weeks in what the RMT describes as “a mad dash to bulldoze through the bodged and rushed proposals”.

Lewes and Polegate ticket offices are on the list of to be downgraded under cutbacks announced by rail operators, which would see them close outside of peak hours. Falmer ticket office is on the list of facilities to fully close this year.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The RMT has set the pace with our campaign to stop Govia’s Thameslink from unleashing ticket office carnage across the routes that make up this franchise as it looks to sacrifice, jobs, services and safety to line their own pockets at the passengers’ expense.

“The consultation process has descended into complete and utter chaos and this is a shameful way to treat passengers who pay a fortune to use the services. The plans have already sparked a storm of public outrage and the union will now step up the fight. RMT has no intention of allowing these plans to be bulldozed through and Govia should pull the proposals in their entirety.”

The union has also raised serious safety questions about staff left handling cash in vulnerable locations with wholly inadequate security.

A Southern spokesperson said there was no substance to the union’s allegations and 21 days is the standard regulated consultation period for any changes to ticket offices.

“Our plans are simply to modernise the way we operate approximately 80 of our busier stations to reflect the changing ways people now buy their tickets and to improve the service we give our passengers,” he said.

“We want our staff to become more available, for all users of the station, and ensure there is a visible presence on our station concourses, where they can help customers. At busier stations, we will continue to staff ticket offices during the morning peak.”

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