Mayor vows to continue legal action over rail ticket office closure plans

Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, says he will continue the legal action to stop the closure of railway ticket offices.

On July 5, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said the public would have 21 days to have their say on plans to close almost all of the 1,007 remaining ticket offices in the country.

Five Northern mayors have joined forces to raise their concerns about the plans and to confirm they have taken legal advice on challenging rail operators – TransPennine Express, Northern Trains Ltd, LNER, EMR, Thameslink, Greater Anglia and Avanti.

The mayors include Andy Burnham, Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin, Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram and Mayor of South Yorkshire Oliver Coppard.

The plan sparked concern from rail unions over job cuts and disability groups over accessibility issues.

Watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch say more than 170,000 responses to the plans have already been received.

However, the RDG confirmed today (July 26) that the consultation has now been extended to September 1.

But Andy Burnham said this is not enough, and has demanded the plan is scrapped altogether and run again according to due process.

He said: “This is finally some recognition that the three-week consultation period is a completely flawed process.

“You cannot take away thousands of ticket offices from our communities having only carried out a three week consultation for 21 days.

“But this extension is not enough. The law is clear: A 12-week consultation is required on any proposal to close part of a station.

“The rail industry are simply extending a flawed process and, for that reason, what has been announced will not stop our legal action.”

He added: “They have not followed the process set out in law in the Railway Act 2005 to deliver these changes which would have a huge impact on passengers, disproportionately impacting the disabled and most vulnerable.

“Mayors across England, including myself, will continue to pursue legal action if they do not completely stop this flawed consultation and begin again.

“And this is just the start of the fight.

“I am completely opposed to the plans to close almost every ticket office. This will isolate passengers and drive people away from rail at a time where, in the North, confidence in services couldn’t be lower. I will be fighting against these changes all the way.”