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 Ticket office closure proposal

From Andrew Bibby

Tuesday, 11 July 2023

Here's an extract from my email to Transport Focus about the proposal to close HB ticket office. You can email comments here.  Deadline 28 July.

I am strongly opposed to the proposals to close ticket offices in my part of West Yorkshire, and particularly at my local station Hebden Bridge.

I feel that the proposals as presented are fundamentally dishonest. What is purportedly being proposed is a reassignment of ticket office staff to other customer-facing roles, on the basis that many people now buy railway tickets online or via apps.  What is actually proposed, certainly at Hebden Bridge, is a major cut-back in the times when any members of staff will be at the station.  Trying to conflate reassignment of roles with really major cuts in staffing in one consultation document is not acceptable.

Our station, which is Grade II listed and therefore potentially more at risk from damage from vandalism than some stations, has for many years had the benefit of extremely helpful and friendly ticket office staff.  What they currently offer is unfortunately not available at present via the ticket issuing machines. Because of my travel plans, I often need to buy tickets at Hebden Bridge for journeys commencing at the neighbouring station of Todmorden – this is easy to achieve at the ticket office but not possible by machine. I also sometimes want to book my bike in for future journeys using rail operating companies which require pre-booking of bikes, and again this is something which is easy using the ticket office but often very difficult by phone or online.

Our ticket issuing machines are not reliable. Ironically, on the very day that the current consultation was launched, all three machines at the station were out of order. I have also had the experience of machines not being programmed to recognise the W Yorkshire Senior Concessionary Discount card (I reported this to the ticket office staff member when I got back to Hebden Bridge, and he in turn reported it on – and the error was fixed. What would I have done if there was no staff at the station?). Until we have reliable machines which can handle travel in the future, and also handle travel from other stations, they are not an acceptable alternative to staffed ticket offices.

The proposal for future staffing at Hebden Bridge also show no understanding of the nature of customer usage of the station. We are a tourist town, with visitors pouring in to the town via the station on Saturdays and Sundays.  And yet the proposed new staffing pattern shows no staffing at all on Saturday afternoons or Sundays. The sense is that the proposals have been drawn up by those with no local knowledge at all.

Finally, let me add that I do have the Northern app on my mobile phone, which I am happy to use on those occasions when I travel and the ticket office is closed.  But here again there is a fundamental problem with the current technology.  I have both a Senior Rail Pass (1/3rd off) and a West Yorkshire Senior Concessionary card (1/2 price within West Yorkshire, but not peak time or off advanced fares). Depending on my journey times, it is sometimes better to use one card and sometimes better to use the other. My Northern app, however, is unable to cope with anyone holding two cards, and certainly unable to advise me on the cheapest options.

Until the technology, both at ticket issuing machines and apps, is very much more sophisticated, we need human beings to help us navigate the extremely complicated ticketing arrangements which currently apply on the railway network.

From Jan E

Thursday, 13 July 2023

I'd just like to add my concern and support for the above - excellent letter sent - thanks!  

Life becomes increasingly difficult and arduous as I age - just awful. I do everything I can to continue day - day but become increasingly 'invisible' and isolated as a result: real people disappearing from our world in favour of let's call it what it is - profit margins.  Sorry I could not attend the wonderful demo out side but with you in spirit.

Here's hoping for a good outcome.

From Holly R

Thursday, 13 July 2023

Hi there, I want to contribute my comments to the consultation by RMT but can't find the link anymore.

Could someone post it here so that we can get more clicks and more submissions to keep our amazing ticket office?

From Jamie Johnson

Monday, 17 July 2023

The RMT petition opposing plans by the Government and Train Companies to close nearly one thousand ticket offices across the rail network can be found here.

From Caroline Mullen

Monday, 24 July 2023

There is a consultation on ticket office closures. But responses need to be in by this ^Wednesday – 26th July* - Objections can be emailed to TicketOffice.Northern@transportfocus.org.uk or there is an online form here.

There is plenty questionable about this consultation process – and a million more things wrong with the proposals themselves. But even if there is little chance of much to gain, I can't see what there is to lose by responding to the consultation. The metro mayors are threatening legal action over the whole process.

From Dorothy A HebdenHeath

Friday, 28 July 2023

This is dumb proposal and must be stopped. The persons in the ticket office are left without positions. No matter how important each
is for traveling, so helpful, particularly making plans for complicated trips from HB and returnes to HB.

Machines do not provide personal conversations about routes, changes, return changes, etc..

Using machines - who is employed to make sure they work? What is the cost of that? Yet the idea of "window help" is to be eliminated!

From Mark H

Tuesday, 31 October 2023

Hooray for a weak government!

See also:

HebWeb News: Save our stations! (July 23, updated 31 Oct)