Thank you for your email. Train operating companies are consulting on plans to modernise customer service across the railway network but this does entail closing many ticket office counters and moving staff to other roles on stations. This is not a decision which the government has taken but I am concerned and I know many MPs are too. We have to make sure the railways are accessible.
The view of rail companies is that staff will be able to provide a more personal service in future, and say it will provide additional support at stations and for people who cannot or do not want to use contactless or mobile tickets. Ticket offices have seen a significant decline in use over the last decade. In 2022/23, around 1 in 10 transactions occurred at a ticket office. This is down from 1 in 3 a decade earlier and equates to 13 per cent of total revenue, yet the number of ticket offices has not substantially changed.
I have written to the Chief Executive of South Western Railway which manages all the ticket offices at stations in and around Meon Valley and made my concerns clear. I think at minimum we need clearer reassurance on the continued ability of station staff to support vulnerable passengers or just people who are not familiar with the area or the rail network. If that cannot be provided now then there should be no mass closure until we have guaranteed adequate support for travellers.
I do recommend every constituent who is interested in this responds to the consultation which is being run by the railway companies – https://www.southwesternrailway.com/station-change-proposal
When I have a response from South Western Railway I will be in touch with constituents who have contacted me again. This is a concerning proposal and I will continue to follow it closely.
I hope this information is useful to you and thank you again for writing to me.