Banbury station ticket office saved
499 people objected to the closure of the ticket office at Banbury station
The ticket office at Banbury Train Station will not be closing. Proposals put forward by the rail operators to close ticket offices across the country have been rejected by Transport Secretary Mark Harper.
He said: “The consultation on ticket offices has now ended, with the Government making clear to the rail industry throughout the process that any resulting proposals must meet a high threshold of serving passengers.
“We have engaged with accessibility groups throughout this process and listened carefully to passengers as well as my colleagues in Parliament. The proposals that have resulted from this process do not meet the high thresholds set by Ministers, and so the Government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.
“We will continue our work to reform our railways with the expansion of contactless Pay As You Go ticketing, making stations more accessible through our Access for All programme and £350 million funding through our Network North plan to improve accessibility at up to 100 stations.”
499 people had objected to closure of the ticket office at Banbury Train Station, which is operated by Chiltern Railways.
Transport Focus, the independent watchdog for transport users, reviewed the responses to a public consultation and told rail operators they could not support their proposals.
They accepted there was some merit in the idea of Welcome Points (instead of ticket offices) at stations to offer support and advice, but the idea hadn’t been developed and properly tested. They questioned that lack of queue time monitoring proposed for ticket machines and highlighted customer concerns that if ticket offices closed a regulation requiring consultation on further changes would no longer apply.
One person told Transport Focus: “In my experience the existing design of the machines at Banbury (and other stations) is poor and they are not as intuitive as they should be. They are also prone to being out of order which can lead to queues and, potentially, missed trains.”
The Rail Delivery Group represents train operators. They are disappointed by the decision but will now look at other ways to improve the passenger experience.
Chief Executive Jacqueline Starr said: “Train companies committed to a genuine consultation, and worked closely with passenger bodies to build and improve on the original plans. We thank everybody who participated and for helping to make our proposals better and welcome the recognition by Transport Focus that the principle of moving staff to where they can better help passengers, is the right one.
“We listened, and we pledged that the vast majority of cases, stations with staff today would continue to be staffed tomorrow and with similar operating hours. We pledged to upgrade ticket vending machines and that all stations will have a single welcome point, developed in partnership with accessibility groups and passenger bodies. We pledged any changes would be introduced gradually, with regular feedback and review in a process fully involving London Travel Watch and Transport Focus.
“These proposals were about adapting the railway to the changing needs of customers in the smartphone era, balanced against the significant financial challenge faced by the industry as it recovers from the pandemic. At a time when the use of ticket offices is irreversibly declining, we also want to give our people more enriching and rewarding careers geared towards giving passengers more visible face-to-face support. While these plans won’t now be taken forward, we will continue to look at other ways to improve passenger experience while delivering value for the taxpayer. Our priority remains to secure a vibrant long-term future for the industry and all those who work in it.”
Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam