Rail ticket offices across Corby, Kettering, and Wellingborough set to be saved as Government asks train operators to withdraw from widespread closure plans
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The Government told train operators to withdraw plans to close railway station ticket offices after a transport watchdog objected to plans for widespread closures.
The backdown on rail industry plans for the mass closure of ticket offices in England is the right decision, said Lee Barron, the Labour Party’s Parliamentary candidate for Corby and East Northants.
Lee backed the campaign by the RMT which challenged the plans from The Rail Delivery Group that almost all the 1,007 in-person facilities would be shut down in an effort to reduce costs after a post-Covid fall in passenger numbers.
If the proposals had gone ahead, it would mean offices closing across the area including Corby and Kettering.
Ministers had backed the proposals, despite concerns from unions and charities over the impact on vulnerable passengers. But in a U-turn, the government has cancelled rail industry plans for the mass closure of ticket offices in England, saying they failed to reach the ‘high threshold of serving passengers’.
Lee Barron said: “This U-turn is fantastic news for rail users and staff. The proposal was for the profit of rail providers, and it felt they were dismissing the needs of customers.
“The decision would have had a major impact on customer service, especially the most vulnerable in our communities.
“It is a victory for common sense and for the people who made their voices heard.”
The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA), the union representing rail ticket office workers for more than 125 years, has been at the forefront of a sustained campaign to ‘Save Ticket Offices’.
The union's campaign has resulted in the widespread condemnation of the proposals by passengers and disability, women’s and pensioner groups, drawing 750,000 responses.
The TSSA has said it is delighted that the government has admitted defeat over plans to close almost all railways ticket offices across England.
TSSA General Secretary, Maryam Eslamdoust, said: “Our union has fought tooth and nail for many months to stop what would have been a catastrophe for our railways.
“We are delighted that the government has admitted defeat and scrapped these wrongheaded plans. It shows the power of our union and of the great British public in making sure these planned closures have now reached the end of the line.
“Though the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, has acted today frankly none of this need have happened. We have been saying from the outset that railway ticket offices and station staff are a vital and loved public service. They should never have been under attack in the first place.
“I pay tribute to every single one of our amazing members and the public beyond who worked so hard to make sure this was a battle we won. This is their victory and a victory for our railways.”