Outcry holds up plan to close rail ticket offices 

The Government has been forced to delay plans to shut almost every ticket office in the West of England, giving passengers a “ray of hope”, says Metro Mayor Dan Norris.

Local people were given an extra five weeks to ensure their voices are heard in the consultation via gwr.com/haveyoursay

Around 600,000 paper tickets were sold from ticket offices in the region last year from booths earmarked for closure at Filton Abbey Wood, Bristol Temple Meads, Bath Spa, Bristol Parkway, Yate, Oldfield Park and Keynsham.

Mr Norris, who met the Rail Minister to raise his opposition to the Government’s plans, reiterated his calls for ministers to consider his proposals to address the “very real concerns” of West of England residents. The Mayor believes railway workers should be allowed to continue to sell tickets from ticket offices where appropriate – such as when there is a queue for a ticket machine.

He said: “Ministers tried, and failed, to railroad through these botched plans in just 21 days, whatever the consequences, and without consideration for the future success of the railway. I urge passengers to use this additional time to show why these proposals are not fit for purpose.

“Everyone knows tickets are confusing. When I catch the train, I am often unclear what is the best value ticket, and if I’m travelling off peak. Sometimes it can be cheaper to buy two tickets rather than one! And a machine just can’t second guess if you plan to return on a peak or off peak train – whereas staff will ask. That’s why passengers value Ticket Office staff.

“It is vital that ministers use the extra five weeks to provide assurances that these changes are actually to the benefit of passengers, and instead of a blanket ban on staff selling tickets, let’s see what works best for passengers in each station.

“We need to do everything we can to encourage people onto trains. Not put up barriers. That’s all the more vital if we are going to try to reach our ambitious net-zero targets.”

The Mayor also reiterated his calls for an Equalities Impact Assessment to help ensure that passengers who find machines especially tricky to use are not penalised.

The consultation closed on September 1.