Ticket offices face closure threat

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

The rail ticket office at Falmer faces closure and Lewes and Polegate could see their opening times slashed, it has emerged.

Rail Union RMT launched an immediate campaign to defend jobs and services after it was revealed that ticket offices at 81 stations across the country were being targeted in a formal public consultation.

The stations have been divided into three ‘waves’, the first of which have a proposed office closure date of June 2016.

The second wave - which includes Falmer - will lose their ticket office once passengers have been sufficiently ‘re-educated’ into using ticket machines.

The third wave - which includes Lewes and Polegate - will see offices close outside of peak hours once a longer period of “re-education” has been undertaken.

Union leaders believe these stations also face the threat of eventual total closure.

The proposals will go through public consultation, and require approval from the Department for Transport.

A spokesperson for Govia Thameslink Railway said:“We want to modernise the way we operate approximately 80 of our busier stations across Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink for the benefit of passengers, many of whom now buy their tickets online, or use Oyster, contactless and smartcards.

“Where sales from ticket offices are low, we want to bring staff out from behind the windows and on to the concourse to work where they’re needed most, as Station Hosts, providing assistance and helping sell tickets from ticket machines and their own handheld devices.

“All the affected stations will be staffed for longer as a result – at all but two they would be staffed from the very first train of the day to the very last, seven days a week.

“This will drive other customer benefits – we’ll also be able to increase the opening hours of facilities passengers have told us are important, such as waiting rooms, toilets and lifts.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:“These plans, driven by the desire to de-staff our railways in the quest for profit, would unleash a wave of ticket office carnage across rail franchises .

“It is no coincidence that this threat comes as Southern are already gearing up to axe guards from their services.

“RMT is launching a campaign of opposition to these plans and we will be working with the travelling public to stop them in their tracks.”

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