MPs forced to debate ticket office closures after petition hits 100k signatures

People are rising up against plans to close rail station ticket office

A photo of a 'Save Our Ticket Offices' rally

A debate is likely to be triggered in parliament over plans to close almost all ticket offices at train stations. This follows a petition calling for ticket offices to be kept open reaching 100,000 signatures.

Plans to close ticket offices have been highly controversial, with passenger groups, trade unions and disability campaigners all speaking out against the plans. In August, it was revealed that rail firms themselves have admitted that the proposals would have a detrimental impact on vulnerable rail passengers and could disincentivise some groups from travelling by train.

The news that the petition has reached the threshold to be debated in parliament has been welcomed by trade unions and campaigners. TSSA union interim general secretary Peter Pendle has said: “This is a remarkable response and just shows the power of the public.

“Time and again we have seen the Conservatives attempt to ignore the solid arguments that trade unions, disability and pensioner groups and the public have given them for keeping ticket offices open. They might think they can sneak these closures through the door, but these numbers show it won’t work. We know a terrible idea when we see it, and we won’t be talked down.

“Now, there will be no more hiding. We look forward to seeing the Government held to account for these nonsensical and deeply unpopular plans.”

All petitions on the official parliament website that reach 10,000 signatures receive a response from the government. Ones that hit 100,000 signatures almost always trigger a debate in parliament.

In its response to the petition, the Department for Transport said: “The rail industry must modernise to provide the service passengers deserve, moving staff from behind the ticket office screens. Train operators are consulting passengers on the proposed changes.

“There has been a significant shift in the way passengers purchase tickets, with just one in every ten transactions taking place at a ticket office in 2022/23, down from one in three a decade earlier. 99% of all transactions made at ticket offices last year could be made at TVMs or online.”

At the time of writing, 101,236 people have signed the petition.

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

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