Rail firms admit the devastating impact of ticket office closures on vulnerable passengers

Disabled and older passengers will be disadvantaged by these plans

A photo of a 'Save Our Ticket Offices' rally

Britain’s rail firms have admitted the devastating impact ticket office closures could have on vulnerable passengers, according to documents seen by the Mirror.

Rail companies including TransPennine Express, South Western Railway and Avanti West Coast have put in writing how the planned closure of ticket offices could harm disabled and older passengers. Their comments are part of Equality and Diversity Impact Assessments on the impact of potential closures.

TransPennine Express has written: “Vulnerable customers can use the Ticket Offices and waiting rooms as a point of safety and refuge. Not having this centralised location or having the opening times of waiting rooms altered may leave some customers feeling anxious about being at the station.”

“Disabled customers may potentially be victims of financial extortion if they need to give their bank card to others to assist them with purchasing tickets.”

South Western Railway highlighted the inadequate infrastructure currently in place at ticket vending machines. The firm said that the machines are “not accessible for wheelchair users”, and noted that there is “no audio available”, so they are “not accessible for visually impaired customers”.

Avanti West Coast said that: “Ticket offices are a known space for passengers to find staff and receive assistance, not just for purchasing tickets”, and admitted that closing ticket offices “could result in passengers not receiving the support they need leading to them no longer choosing to travel by rail.”

The revelations come as campaigners are ramping up their efforts to stop the move to close ticket offices. Today, campaign groups and trade unions including anti-privatisation group We Own It and rail unions ASLEF and the TSSA protested outside the Department for Transport calling for the plans to be scrapped.

In advance of the demonstration, Cat Hobbs – Director of We Own It – said: “No one, except the profiteering private rail firms, stands to benefit from this disastrous decision to close such a vital service that so many different kinds of passengers depend on, especially disabled and older passengers. The rail companies are showing exactly why they should never be trusted with our railway.”

On Thursday August 31, the RMT union is organising a major demonstration in London, branded ‘Save Our Ticket Offices’. Campaigners will assemble outside the Department for Transport before marching to Downing Street, where a rally will take place.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

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