The Government has announced today the proposals to reform ticket offices at railway stations across the UK, including Ingatestone, Shenfield, Brentwood and West Horndon in my Brentwood and Ongar constituency, will not go ahead.
During the summer, train companies consulted on reforming railway station ticket offices. The aim was to move staff out from behind ticket office screens so that more help and advice could be provided in customer-focused roles. I reeived dozens of emails from constituents expressing concerns disabled and elderly customers would not be able to get the assistance they needed when buying best value tickets and planning journeys. Concern was also raised about safety at Ingatestone Station when pupils from the Anglo European School arrived at and departed from the station in large numbers on their way to and from school.
Transport Minister, Huw Merriman, said today:
"Since the consultations launched in the summer, I have maintained that no currently staffed station should be unstaffed as a result of the changes. I was clear this must be an open and genuine consultation process, and that the changes must deliver the highest quality of service for all users of the railway. I have listened to colleagues in the House and have engaged extensively with all interested parties. Following further meetings with accessibility groups and the passenger bodies, it has become clear the ticket office proposals do not meet the high thresholds set by Ministers. The Government has therefore communicated to the industry that ticket office reform should not proceed. I expect the Train Operating Companies to now withdraw their proposals and for no ticket offices to close. We will continue to invest in improving the passenger experience at railway stations, and that is why the Government has committed £20 million to extend Pay As You Go ticketing to a further 53 stations in the South East by the end of the year."
Greater Anglia, which runs Ingatestone and Shenfield Stations in this constituency has issued the following statement:
"Greater Anglia, along with most other train operators, had been proposing changes designed to improve customer service at stations, with staff coming out from behind the ticket office window into more flexible roles, which were intended to provide a better service and more assistance for customers.
However, in the light of the objections from Transport Focus and London TravelWatch, Greater Anglia’s proposed changes to ticket offices, and those of all other train operators, will be withdrawn.
We thank everybody who participated in the consultation process. We have listened to and responded to the feedback we have received. We will continue to focus on other ways in which we can keep on improving the customer experience for rail travellers across our region."
The Managing Director of C2C, which operates West Horndon Station, Rob Mullen, has issues this statement on the decision to keep all ticket offices open:
“We would like to thank the passenger bodies for taking the time to assess and review our ticket office proposals in such detail, and for providing a thorough response to each of the key areas suggested for change.
“Although our proposals have been objected to, we are most grateful to the thousands of c2c customers who provided valuable and insightful feedback during the consultation period. This feedback is vitally important and allows us to focus on continually improving our customer experience.
“Our customers remain at the heart of everything we do and each decision we make. We will continue to work closely with industry partners, stakeholders and the c2c passenger panels in order to ensure we provide our customers with a modern, forward-thinking railway which offers safe, punctual and reliable services.
As part of our ongoing commitment to making c2c a more accessible and attractive railway for all, and as announced earlier this month, we will soon be introducing contactless pay as you go and e-ticketing to our existing range of ticketing and payment options, giving customers greater choice and flexibility when planning and paying for trips."
Thank you to all my constituents who took part in the consultation and made their views known so clearly.