Rail operators, with the blessing of government ministers, plan to close most ticket offices in England including around 150 in London. The Ladywell office is one of them.
Is this just another attempt to push through job cuts on the railways? What will happen to the building if the ticket office closes. Could the ticket office be repurposed into coffee shop/store that also sells rail tickets and offers passenger assistance? We are told this happens in some other countries.
Southeastern says closure of the Ladywell ticket office “forms part of plans to modernise the railway and bring it more in line with modern consumer expectations.”
It says ticket office use has fallen significantly and travellers buy tickets online or at ticket machines.
Ticket office staff will be redeployed to “other station areas” where they will be “better placed to help customers buy tickets.”.
The London Assembly transport committee and disability campaign groups have raised concerns about the proposals. Campaigners fear train stations could become inaccessible for disabled customers should ticket offices be closed.
Rail staff fear the move is all about job cuts. Ticket offices usually represent the first point of contact for passengers with disabilities and are often the only point within a station to fearure a hearing induction loop which would impact people who are deaf or have partial hearing.
The offices usually offer tcustomers a friendly human face to assist them in planning their journey and buying tickets will lose out.
Rail staff have described the move as the “Beeching of the booking offices” – a reference to the wholesale closure of rail lines in the 1960s.
They say it will be bad news for passengers as well as staff and are convinced the “modernisation” is about cost cutting. The London Assembly committee has asked what the effects of office closures and potential de-staffing at stations will mean for safety and security.
The proposals are now out for consultation until Friday September 1 after the deadline for commenting was extended amid criticism the consultation period was far too short. so far more than 100,000 have commented.
London Assembly members say “ensuring train stations are appropriately staffed is essential in making travel by train accessible for Londoners.”
The Mayor of London said it was essential passenger groups and the workforce were fully consulted. “Millions of commuters use London’s rail stations daily and everything possible must be done to ensure all passengers feel safe and able to access the assistance and information they need.”