Passengers would have to book train trips online under new plan

End of the line for ticket offices? Passengers would have to book train trips online under new plan that could see closure of every booth in the country

  • Every railway ticket office in England could close under plans to save £500m
  • Passengers would have to book online under proposals to shift ticketing online
  • Transport secretary said one in eight train tickets are sold over the counter
  • Every railway ticket office in England could close under plans to save £500million a year, it was reported yesterday.

    Passengers would have to book online under proposals by the industry to ‘repurpose’ the country’s 980 remaining offices.

    This would badly affect millions of elderly, disabled and disadvantaged passengers, warned the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association.

    The union said it was seeking an urgent meeting with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps over the report and previous rumours about closures. General secretary Manuel Cortes said losing ticket offices ‘will simply make more members vote for strike action’. 

    Last week Mr Shapps said that one in eight train tickets are sold over the counter.

    Every railway ticket office in England could close under plans to save £500million a year, it was reported yesterday

    Every railway ticket office in England could close under plans to save £500million a year, it was reported yesterday

    Passengers would have to book online under proposals by the industry to 'repurpose' the country's 980 remaining offices

    Passengers would have to book online under proposals by the industry to ‘repurpose’ the country’s 980 remaining offices

    In response to The Sunday Times report, the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said no decision had been taken on ticket offices.

    A spokesman added ‘many jobs will need to change to become more passenger-centric’ as travel and buying patterns change.

    Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, added: ‘Many more [older people] lack an up-to-date smartphone or tablet, or live in a place with unreliable broadband.

    ‘These people have relied on buying tickets face-to-face or over the phone and then collecting them from a station machine. What are they expected to do if everything goes online?’

    Mr Cortes said: ‘We’ve been asking for clarity on rumours about ticket office closures for months but no proposals have been shared with us or the staff who work day in day out serving passengers.

    ‘This Government has no respect for rail staff or passengers if they think this is the way to run our public transport services.’

    He said closing ticket offices ‘will simply make more members vote for strike action’.

    Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, argued the planned online shift would make train travel a tough prospect for millions of old people

    Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK, argued the planned online shift would make train travel a tough prospect for millions of old people

    An RDG spokesman said: ‘The pandemic has been an unprecedented financial shock to the railway.

    ‘While no decisions have been taken over ticket offices, with the acceleration of changing travel patterns and more passengers migrating to digital technology, many jobs will need to change to become more passenger-centric.

    ‘Train companies want to work with unions on how to address those changes while making sure the industry takes no more than its fair share from the taxpayer.’