Conservative MP for Lewes responds to government decision to scrap closure of ticket offices

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The Government have told the train operating companies to withdraw their planned closure of ticket offices which would have effected stations at Lewes, Seaford, Newhaven, Polegate and Plumpton.

A number of other stations that local people also use were also at risk such as Hassocks, Eastbourne, Burgess Hill and Brighton. Train operators and the Department for Transport were planning to close almost all of the 1,007 remaining ticket offices across the country.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, has told train companies to withdraw the plans after both Transport Focus and London TravelWatch formally objected to the proposals on October 31.

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Hundreds of local residents contacted Maria with concerns about ticket offices closing, particularly those who had accessibility needs.

Conservative MP for Lewes responds to government decision to scrap closure of ticket offices. Photo: Maria CaulfieldConservative MP for Lewes responds to government decision to scrap closure of ticket offices. Photo: Maria Caulfield
Conservative MP for Lewes responds to government decision to scrap closure of ticket offices. Photo: Maria Caulfield

Maria Caulfield MP said: “I know that residents across the constituency will be welcoming this announcement by the government, I made representation to the government and the rail companies on these proposals. Many residents contacted me concerned that ticket office closures would limit their accessibility to the railway and so I am very pleased that ticket offices will be remaining open.”

Councillor James MacCleary, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Lewes, said: "The ticket offices are a lifeline for so many passengers, particularly those who are elderly or disabled and those who are visitors, including local ones such as Lewes, Seaford, Newhaven, Polegate and Plumpton.

"We are delighted that finally the government have seen sense and listened to the Lib Dems who were making the point very strongly that these ticket offices must remain open".

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During the summer, train companies consulted on reforming railway station ticket offices. Over 750,000 across the country took part in the consultation.

Minister of State for Transport Huw Merriman MP said: “Following further meetings with accessibility groups and the passenger bodies, it has become clear the ticket office proposals do not meet the high thresholds set by Ministers. The Government has therefore communicated to the industry that ticket office reform should not proceed. I expect the Train Operating Companies to now withdraw their proposals and for no ticket offices to close.”

The rail union TSSA has been at the forefront of a sustained campaign to ‘Save Ticket Offices’. The union's campaign has resulted in the widespread condemnation of the proposals by passengers and disability, women’s and pensioner groups.

TSSA general secretary, Maryam Eslamdoust, said: “Our union has fought tooth and nail for many months to stop what would have been a catastrophe for our railways.

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“We are delighted that the government has admitted defeat and scrapped these wrongheaded plans. It shows the power of our union and of the great British public in making sure these planned closures have now reached the end of the line.

“Though the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, has acted today frankly none of this need have happened. We have been saying from the outset that railway ticket offices and station staff are a vital and loved public service. They should never have been under attack in the first place."

The Liberal Democrat petition to keep local stations open was signed by over a thousand people, and submitted to Southern rail ahead of this decision.

Green District Councillor Paul Keene said: “As we all know, the public were dead

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set against these Conservative and rail company plans to try to make their lives

even more difficult in these hard economic times. And as to be expected, when the

public all across Lewes District joined our protests and letter writing campaign, and

added their names to national petitions as well, they showed the Government and

rail company bosses exactly what they thought of their nefarious plans.”