The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,
Declares that rail firms should cancel their current plans to close the majority of the remaining 1,007 ticket offices across England; further that these offices and their staff provide vital services to ensure the accessibility of train services for all passengers; and further notes that these staff are crucial for disabled and elderly customers and visitors to the area.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to take into account the concerns of the petitioners and take immediate action to drop plans to shut railway station ticket offices.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Tim Farron, Official Report, 11 September 2023; Vol. 737, c. 735 .]
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.
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 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. We also continue to engage with the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee to ensure that any impact on passengers is considered.