Closure of station ticket offices confirmed


Ticket offices at 14 train stations in Cheshire be closed permanently, including Alderley Edge, Handforth and Wilmslow.

Plans to axe up to 1,000 ticket offices across the UK were unveiled by the government on Tuesday, 5th July, having been proposed by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) - an industry body which represents private railway operators.

Face-to face counters will remain at some of the busiest stations, including Manchester Piccadilly.

Customers will now have to purchase tickets via apps and websites or self-service machines at stations.

Jacqueline Starr, Rail Delivery Group chief executive, said "The ways our customers buy tickets has changed and it's time for the railway to change with them.

"With just 12% of tickets being sold from ticket offices last year, and 99% of those transactions being available on TVMs or online, our proposals would mean more staff on hand on to give face to face help with a much wider range of support, from journey planning, to finding the right ticket and helping those with accessibility needs."

The trade union RMT condemned the proposals to close ticket offices.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: "The decision to close up to 1,000 ticket offices and to issue hundreds of redundancy notices to staff is a savage attack on railway workers, their families and the travelling public.

"Travellers will be forced to rely on apps and remote mobile teams to be available to assist them rather than having trained staff on stations.

"This is catastrophic for elderly, disabled and vulnerable passengers trying to access the rail network."

He added "They want to cut costs, make profits for shareholders, and run the network into the ground without a thought as to the vital role the rail industry plays in the country's economy.

"RMT is mounting a strong industrial, and political campaign to resist ticket office closures and station staff cuts. And we will continue our fight on July 20, 22 and 29 when 20,000 railway workers on the train operators go on strike."



Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Jonathan Follows
Thursday 6th July 2023 at 10:15 am
It's a great shame, especially without significant reform of the maddeningly complex railways fares system, that people will be forced to use the horrible ticket machines rather than buying a ticket from a person who can give good advice. The rail companies game the ticket system and ticket machines can't give advice in the way that people can. And then people who buy tickets in good faith from a machine can be prosecuted for having an invalid ticket. It's also a change which is going to disproportionally affect older people who have difficulties with buying tickets in the ways that will be mandated - not all older people have problems with technology of course, but many do.
It's a sad change which will make travelling by train an increasingly unpleasant experience.
Julie Green
Thursday 6th July 2023 at 10:37 am
I suspect the next step will be to make many stations request stop only, unmanned.... The safety of passengers will eventually be compromised. Meanwhile,as with banks, a whole sector of society will be excluded.
Robert Taylor
Thursday 6th July 2023 at 4:28 pm
It is possible to object to ticket office closures and the website Transport for All .org has information about how to oppose.
Vince Chadwick
Thursday 6th July 2023 at 5:35 pm
While DfT may point out that many other countries are closing ticket offices, it must be remembered that the UK has a complex and difficult to understand rail ticketing system. In Switzerland, for example, many people buy a single annual pass that gives unlimited train travel. In other countries (e.g. The Netherlands) where ticket offices have been closed, ticketing is far more straightforward than it is here.

This move in UK to close ticket offices to save costs should NOT be done UNTIL our ticketing is simplified, to ensure one can easily buy the right ticket at the right price on-line or from a ticket machine.

Mick Lynch is barking up the wrong tree when (by referencing shareholders) he apparently blames Train Operating Companies for "wanting to cut costs (and) make profits for shareholders". As rail pundit 'The man in Seat 61' says of that:

"The DfT now pays all the railway's costs including the cost of ticket offices. DfT gives the train operators 2% on top as their management fee. So paradoxically, if offices close, operators will lose the 2% they're paid on those ticket office costs. So closing ticket offices actually *cuts* their profits". So it ain't the TOCs who are driving this.

This is politics. It's the DfT sidestepping the rail unions, and the government is just letting the DfT (who are solely cost driven and uninterested in cost / benefit analysis) do their thing. Those who will suffer are the passengers, but no one, not government, not DfT, nor rail unions is batting for them. The government promised to set up 'Great British Railways' to remedy this and Derby won the competition as the place where it would be based. But GBR is now on the back burner, probably at least until the next election.

Another rail pundit, Christian Wolmar, sums this up saying we now have a "who gives a damn" railway. Sadly, with our railways now a political football, he is spot on.
Julie Green
Friday 7th July 2023 at 2:37 pm
Upon looking at the online "consultation" form, the only question asked is
"How will YOU be impacted by the proposed changes to the ticket office?". (One form to be sent to each of the relevant 13 train companies as this is not a national consultation).
The alternative is to email, and there is a postal address to write to or a number to telephone. However, the digitally excluded would need to be online in the first place to get that information. Nowhere have I seen alternative ways of informing the digitally excluded how to comment/ object. If you are leaving a sector of society out of that consultation then surely it can not be legal. I also have concerns about the short amount of time allowed for the process i.e. all comments to be received by 26th July.
Hugh Everett
Wednesday 12th July 2023 at 6:07 pm
I'm writing as a member of the Friends of Handforth Station. We've started a campaign to garner input from the users of our station, to feed back to the public consultation process.

Our website here summarises what we feel will be the biggest impacts specifically for Handforth, and it also contains a simple form which can be filled in online to provide feedback.

We are also planning to make paper feedback forms available at the station.

In short, the Friends of Handforth Station can see few benefits to these proposals, and feel that the disadvantaged in our community, and those without an App, and those who pay in cash, and others will be severely and negatively affected if these proposals go through.
Robert Taylor
Wednesday 12th July 2023 at 8:41 pm
@Vince Chadwick some good points there but the ticketing issue I'm not sure about - its just a mess because nobody has bothered to sort it out in some kind of buck-passing game. I dont think it will have missed ML's attention but the key thing is the closure of ticket offices will be more profitable because staff go out of their way to get the best price. Ultimately you've explained the fact that the rail companies are all but nationalised except the Government could'nt possibly tell us. On the your final point I would add that there is some kind of thing in our country that 'once its gone, its gone' and that means they will never come back and we will be one step closer to Blade Runner (or any other future dystopian story).
@Julie Green completely agree. There has to be some way of getting a form, maybe at a ticket office? (!)
Gary Chaplin
Thursday 13th July 2023 at 6:19 am
Our infrastructure needs massive change, this is being made political as mentioned above but also in the real impact of this move.
They have guaranteed no compulsory redundancies and all stations with ticket offices with simply have ‘human’ ticket sales moved to the platform or concourse- it won’t impact the tiny minority who cannot or will not use online/machine options.
I suspect the biggest bugbear is that Mick Lynch (the most political player) is worried his members won’t be able to sit in their offices doing very little apart from selling a ticket an hour, they’ll be visible out with the rail customers assisting with other aspects as well as selling tickets.
Michael Harding
Thursday 13th July 2023 at 8:49 am
Alderley Edge, Handforth and Wilmslow ticket offices are all run by Northern Rail. You can e-mail any comments on the proposals to:

Comments have to be in by 28 July.

As far as the Wilmslow ticket office is concerned, is this an issue that Residents of Wilmslow could take up?
Andrew Backhouse
Thursday 13th July 2023 at 9:34 am
I am not sure how the ticket office staff at Handforth can be out on the concourse when there is not one! I think the government has tried to save money without looking at the long term plan - we need to get more people on to the railways instead of cars, and the ticketing system is terrible, with many of us struggling when we have to use the machines - and the one at Handforth is inaccessible to some. I think I would only see it as a positive move if they went for the Luxembourg model of free public transport to get people out of cars - a real attempt to tackle climate change instead of fiddling around the edges. How about pushing for something more like that?
John Featherstone
Thursday 13th July 2023 at 4:28 pm
i totally agree with john follows comments also can we get the ROW involved to try and sort this out
Vince Chadwick
Thursday 13th July 2023 at 4:32 pm
Robert Taylor, I am unfamiliar with Blade Runner, so your point and it's relevance to my point about Christian Wolmar and the 'who gives a damn railway' passes me by.

Several correspondents here have wondered about former ticket office staff wandering station concourses and platforms like lost souls, to help passengers with ticketing enquiries or anything else. I suspect that if this happens at all, it won't happen for long. The closing of all but a few ticket offices on the system is bound to result in many redundancies, and implementing these these does not require any consultation with the rail unions. It's a way of cutting the costs of rail while side-stepping those unions.
Toby Tritschler
Thursday 13th July 2023 at 7:14 pm
John Featherstone - local councillors have been discussing this topic and it is on the agenda for the Wilmslow Town Council meeting on Monday evening.

My personal view is that this proposal disproportionately impacts on the elderly and disabled, is therefore at risk of being considered discriminatory under the Equality Act and without an appropriate equality impact assessment should not have even been presented for consultation.