Government U-turn will see railway station ticket offices remain open

The Government has announced another U-turn – this time on the planned closure of ticket offices at railway stations.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper made the announcement after the plans came under fire from rail pressure groups and unions – as well as the public via a public consultation which garnered over three quarters of a million responses.

Harper has now told train companies to withdraw the plans after both Transport Focus and London TravelWatch today formally objected to the proposals.

He said: “The consultation on ticket offices has now ended, with the government making clear to the rail industry throughout the process that any resulting proposals must meet a high threshold of serving passengers.

“We have engaged with accessibility groups throughout this process and listened carefully to passengers as well as my colleagues in parliament.

“The proposals that have resulted from this process do not meet the high thresholds set by ministers, and so the government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.”

A jubilant RMT union has claimed a “resounding victory” on hearing the news.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “We are now calling for an urgent summit with the government, train operating companies, disabled and community organisations and passenger groups to agree a different route for the rail network that guarantees the future of our ticket offices and stations staff jobs to delivers a safe, secure and accessible service that puts passengers before profit.”

Meanwhile, TSSA – the union representing rail ticket office workers for over 125 years – said it was “delighted” with the news.

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.

“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.

“I pay tribute to every single one of our amazing members and the public beyond who worked so hard to make sure this was a battle we won. This is their victory and a victory for our railways.