The petition of residents of the constituency of Manchester Gorton,
Declares that Levenshulme Station and Gorton Station’s ticket offices are vital for residents of the area; notes that by closing these ticket offices, vital jobs will be lost; further declares that ticket offices are helpful for the older population and those with disabilities, who may have difficulty using ticket machines; further declares that this loss may prevent people from wanting to use trains in the future.
The petitioners therefore urge the House of Commons to urge the Government to prevent the closure of Levenshulme Station and Gorton Stations’ ticket offices.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Afzal Khan, Official Report, 12 September 2023; Vol. 737, c. 877 .]
Observations from the Minister of State, Department for Transport (Huw Merriman):
Together with the rail industry, I want to improve and modernise the experience for passengers by moving staff out from behind the ticket office screens to provide more help and advice in customer-focused roles. I have been clear that no currently staffed station should be unstaffed as a result of industry changes, and operators should ensure that staff are well located to meet passenger needs in future. This includes ensuring that staff are available to assist those who need additional support, do not wish to use digital tickets or do not have access to smartphones or the internet.
The public consultation on proposed ticket office changes has now closed. The independent passenger bodies, Transport Focus and London TravelWatch, are engaging with train operators on the basis of the consultation responses they have received and the criteria they have set out. I expect train operators, including Northern, which manages several stations in the Greater Manchester area, to work collaboratively with the passenger bodies in the coming weeks, to listen to the concerns raised and to refine their proposals accordingly.
When proposing major changes to ticket office opening hours, including closures, train operators are required to take into account the adequacy of the proposed alternatives in relation to the needs of all passengers, including those who are disabled, and to include this in the notice of the proposal sent to other operators and passenger groups. When consulting, operators should also have clearly considered other equality-related needs. Operators prepared equality impact assessments, and these were made available on their websites during the consultation period.
I have listened and will continue to listen to the views of passengers and accessibility stakeholders. I have held two roundtable discussions with industry, attended by accessibility and passenger representatives. Over 20 different organisations have been represented at these sessions. My Department will also continue to engage with the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee to ensure that any impact on passengers is considered.