Political storm on proposed ticket office closures

Fri,14 July 2023
News Transport
The sham rationale from the Department for Transport (DFT) and Rail Delivery Group on ticket office closures is starting to unwind for DFT Ministers, with the unexpected intervention of the Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Many organisations have already written to the Minister and once again Disability Rights UK will send a letter stating in the strongest terms the total failure to recognise the clear dismay and distress caused by this Lemming type headlong rush to closures, underpinned by an inadequate consultation into what are now clearly emerging as rail staff reductions.

Below are links to key journals on Sir Lindsay’s warning to Minister Merriman:

Lindsay Hoyle warns rail minister: you’re not being told the truth over ticket office closures | Evening Standard

Commons Speaker challenges transport minister over ticket office closures | The Independent

Railway ticket office closures threaten a new kind of lockdown for the old and the disabled (inews.co.uk)

Lindsay Hoyle says rail minister misinformed on ticket office closures | Rail transport | The Guardian

Last week, a number of Conservative MPs highlighted the use of ticket offices at their local stations, while the transport select committee chair, Ian Stewart, said there was “alarming evidence” that assistance for vulnerable passengers had declined since the pandemic. The shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh, said: “The minister has managed to unite concerns from Labour MPs, his own backbenches, you, Mr Speaker, disability groups, trade unions and consumer groups about these closures.” And She said the consultation was “a sham”, with “just 21 days for people to voice their concerns. No equality impact assessment and no answers on job security, on accessibility, on digital ticketing.”

Campaigners for people with disabilities have protested at the consultation. Sight loss charities including the Thomas Pocklington Trust and the Royal National Institute of Blind People wrote to ministers this week urging a longer period to respond and warning that neither printed nor online forms provided for the consultation were accessible for many blind or partially sighted people.

Of course, “proposed changes” really means “proposed closures”, but it seems the private train operating companies who are pushing the cuts would prefer to keep the public in the dark about their full effects.

For all the promises that passengers with disabilities or with reduced mobility will continue to be helped, there is a growing wave of anger that these radical proposals could rob many of the freedom to travel. Crucially,  older and Disabled people risk being further marginalised from society in a fundamental way.

Disability Rights UK will continue to press our case in the strongest way possible.