Mayors say they will take legal action over plans to close rail station ticket offices if consultation is not halted

The Mayor of West Yorkshire has joined her counterparts across England in writing to train operators with an up to seven-day warning, setting out the legal action they will take if a consultation to close the majority of rail ticket offices and drastically cut staff available to support passengers across the country is not halted.
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On July 5, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) announced that the public would have just 21 days to have their say on plans to close almost all of the 1,007 remaining ticket offices in the country.

Mayors from across England came together on Tuesday, July 18, to raise their concerns about the plans and to announce that they have taken legal advice on challenging rail operators TransPennine Express, Northern Trains Ltd, LNER, EMR, Thameslink, Greater Anglia and Avanti.

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Four of the mayors have now sent pre-action protocol letters to the operators over the last few days, with the last being sent today (Friday, July 21), setting out their course of legal action if the consultation is not halted.

Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy BrabinMayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin
Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin

The mayors argue that the current plans would result in many ticket machines at train stations outside of London not being accessible as they are cashless. Of the 467 northern rail stations, 449 have cashless ticket machines.

As part of their case for closures, the RDG have stated that 12 per cent of rail ticket transactions are done at ticket offices.

Nationally, one in every eight tickets is sold at a ticket office whereas the figure across northern stations is one in every six. Of the 191 ticket offices in the North, 165 are due to close.

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The proposals would also see station staffing reduced by more than 250 jobs by Northern trains alone.

Mayor Brabin said: “Ticket office staff are essential if we want our railways to be accessible to everyone. They offer advice, guidance – and sometimes, simply a friendly face to people who may already be socially excluded.

“As a commuter myself, I know our rail system is already too fragmented, with complex ticketing options across a patchwork of operators.

"On top of this, rail passengers in the North have endured months of disruption on the network – this frankly insulting proposal is the last thing we need.

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“Any reduction in staffing will only make train stations less safe for the vulnerable.

“We as mayors are united on this issue. I’d say to the government and train operating companies: listen to the people who know their areas best.

“We will not stand by as this is inflicted on our rail network.”