Ticket offices: on track for closure?

Ticket offices: on track for closure?

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Train Ticket Office Closure: A Cause for Concern

The proposal to close the vast majority of the 1,000-plus ticket offices across England has caused significant uproar and debate. The Rail Delivery Group is suggesting this in an effort to modernise ticketing technology in the country while cutting costs. The hope is to transition staff to multiskilled “customer help” roles. Though this may have practical advantages, it has rightfully disturbed many people.

For elderly and disabled people who rely on ticket offices for convenience and assistance, their disappearance could be a huge detriment. Ticket offices often provide a “sense of security and oversight” that a ticket machine and smartphone cannot. This is in addition to the individual customer service that an algorithm can’t provide.

However, it should also be noted that this technology transition is inevitable. After all, octogenarian travellers today are far more tech-savvy than their older counterparts from two decades ago. Besides, counter staff who have been replaced can – and should – be redeployed to provide help on platform and concourses.

The current proposal is not only about modernisation though. It reeks of corporate cuts and is certainly a cost-cutting strategy. Unions, disabled and passenger groups have all viably expressed their concerns and suggested alternatives. To make a difference, passengers must act fast – the three-week consultation period ends on 26 July.

So, whether or not keeping ticket offices is feasible, is a valid discussion to have. They may very well be seen as an ode to nostalgia and a once-glorious past. But their loss would undoubtedly be felt by a distinct cross-section of the population and should be given due consideration.

At the end of the day, it is all about ensuring passengers’ safety, convenience and, of course, their wallets. We ought to consider this carefully before any decisions are made

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