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Rail Services

Volume 736: debated on Thursday 13 July 2023

Earlier this year, I set out my vision to modernise the railway industry as part of my Bradshaw address. This includes ambitions for a customer-focused, commercially led rail industry and the creation of Great British Railways as its new guiding mind. We continue to invest record sums in improving infrastructure and, just last week, I was pleased to officially open the latest phase of the south-west rail resilience programme at Dawlish, part of a £165 million investment to date, which I know the hon. Gentleman is about to welcome.

The Secretary of State is right that I welcome the programme.

This week, the charity Devon in Sight sent an email to its supporters, including me, titled, “Proposed closures to Railway Ticket Offices.” The email about the consultation was short:

“Please find attached a letter from us detailing how you can make an objection.”

Why does the Secretary of State suppose that a Devon charity that looks out for blind people should presume that its supporters would want to object?

I am not entirely certain exactly what the hon. Gentleman is asking. The rail Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman), set out the purpose of the rail companies’ proposals very well. The rail companies are consulting on the proposals, the purpose of which is to recognise the changed reality that most passengers purchase their tickets either online or from a ticket machine, and most of them do not go near a ticket office. It is about getting the staff out of offices and into the station, so they can support all passengers, including those who are older or disabled and who need assistance, rather than having them stuck in a ticket office. That is the point of the proposals, and there will be a detailed consultation. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will respond to the consultation, which the rail companies can take into account as they pursue their proposals.