LINCOLNSHIRE INDEPENDENTS ASKED COUNCIL

TO TAKE ACTION ON TICKET OFFICE CLOSURE

After a huge campaign, the Rail Companies subsequently agreed not to close the Railway Station Ticket Offices.

“We are delighted at the rail Companies, working with our Government, have made this right decision to keep this local service,” said Cllr Marianne Overton MBE.

“The closure of Sleaford and Grantham Ticket Offices would cause chaos, confusion, mayhem and anxiety to residents in our area, especially older people, the disabled and those who cannot use new technology,” said Sleaford Cllr Ann Mear.

 

Marianne Overton, Leader of the Lincolnshire Independents, confirmed that at the next North Kesteven Council Meeting in October a Motion will be put forward asking for a discussion on how the Council should respond to the proposed closure of almost all station ticket offices. We call on the Council to take action.  The Council could call on the Courts to review the decision by LNER and other operators. We have made our own responses and encourage others to make use of the extended time for response until midnight on September 1st. The Sleaford Ticket office is run by East Midlands Railways, Grantham by LNER https://www.transportforall.org.uk/campaign/ticket-office-closures/take-action/ 

In July, LNER and EMR proposed to close 33 out of 38 train ticket offices within the East Midlands, including Sleaford and Grantham, citing that 87 per cent of tickets are pre-booked online.

The train operator said staff will move on to platforms and use mobile devices to sell most ticket types, although customers would not be able to obtain season replacements, photocards, refunds or rail cards. This could be once a week or once a day.

One in five rail tickets, including some of the cheapest, are not available from ticket machines, putting up costs and limiting choice if ticket offices are shut. This will hurt everyone, through losing the cheaper ticket options or the new £100 penalty fare.

Cllr Ann Mear, Westholme Ward Member, will also argue that, overwhelmingly, women will be prevented from travelling on our railways.  But spontaneous rail travel, that is, without booking, has been held by the Court to be a Human Right, enforceable by law.

This plan to force residents into using the ticket machines on deserted station platforms, planning the quickest and cheapest railway route with complex pricing. There are 2,822 routes to choose from.  And if a rail journey is complicated, the options take too long to work through on a machine, whereas the staff are quick and efficient, using their experience, and even provide a print-out.

Residents have been coming forward, worried about using the rail in future. For example, Kath, from Sleaford, travels every summer to visit her sister in Dundee.  This is a long journey crossing English and Scots Railway network.  Kath relies on the “kind and helpful” lady in the ticket office to navigate choices. If the office closes she will be unable to buy a ticket.

Older people also use Ticket Offices to purchase their Annual Railcards.  An ID check is done at the office.  But when this procedure is carried out online the purchaser is forced to upload a passport size photograph.  But some older people cannot navigate smart phones or may have physical disabilities preventing them.  It feels like an open door for scam websites.

Bridget, from a village near Sleaford, is dreading the closure because she is a frequent user of the ticket office.  “I always buy my Senior Rail Card there and at the same time sort out any complicated rail travel.  The member of staff is totally professional, kind and efficient”.

Ticket machines are also prevented from issuing Group Discount cards, eg for children or small groups.  A card like this can save the purchaser 30% of the ticket price.  Closure means that people will be forced to pay more during a cost of living crisis.  This is shameful.

The plan is to have one member of staff wandering around the platforms offering assistance.  This will mean that the disabled will be prevented from travelling. How is a blind person, for example, able to have confidence that a lone person standing on a platform is a member of staff? The welfare of staff too, is important. Are they to stand on open air platforms in wind, rain and snow for hours on end?

There are too many questions left unanswered.  Women and vulnerable people look to station staff if they feel threatened by anti-social behaviour.  To make a financial saving the railway companies will be cutting staff. Apart from the safety aspect, when a machine goes wrong a purchaser will be unable to travel because they have no ticket.  If they do travel, they risk a fine at the end of their journey, thus causing unnecessary distress.

It seems that the government have failed to carry out an adequate Equalities Impact Assessment which they are required to do by law.  The Court needs to step in and, at the very least, make the government abide by the law of this country.  The railway was sold off by the Government in 1993, who continue to give significant funds. The British people deserve better.

CONTACTS

Cllr Marianne Overton MBE Leader 07920 235 364 marianne.overton@biosearch.org.uk @overtonmarianne

Sleaford Colleagues:

Cllr Ann Mear 07941 721 712 ann.mear2018@gmail.com

Cllr David Suiter cllr_david_suiter@n-kesteven.gov.uk

Cllr Robert Oates 07500 928 957 robert.oates1@btinternet.com

Cllr Bob Oldershaw boboldershaw@gmail.com

NOTES

Lincolnshire Independents are local people, connected to our communities, with a proven track record of getting things done. For reliable, effective support, please use your vote and vote Lincolnshire Independent.

The Lincolnshire Independents are Independents in Lincolnshire who speak and vote independently and work together for residents. This is a network of support, affiliated to the Independent Network

Cllr Marianne Overton Leader text/phone 07920 235 364 marianne.overton@biosearch.org.uk @overtonmarianne, Cllr Peter Lundgren 07751 112303 peter@peterlundgren.co.uk