All railway ticket offices in England to close?

Sprinter107

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So if paper tickets were stopped, and everything was done on a smartphone, what happens should you lose your phone while out and about. How would you then make the return journey, because you wouldnt be able to buy a ticket as paper tickets no longer exist.
 
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Bletchleyite

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So if paper tickets were stopped, and everything was done on a smartphone, what happens should you lose your phone while out and about. How would you then make the return journey, because you wouldnt be able to buy a ticket as paper tickets no longer exist.

It's irrelevant because there is no viable proposal to cease issuing tickets that can be used without a smartphone. No country has done that.

By "stopping paper tickets" what is really meant is "stopping magstripe tickets". TVMs will still exist, just what they'll issue is an e-ticket on a bit of till roll. Some already do.
 

Chew-chew

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Vote Labour

See Northern's franchise promise, of retaining ticket offices when well!
Why would that make any difference? Savings still need to made and the world has moved on from booking offices. Voting Labour didn’t stop the 1960s closures.
 

crablab

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The fix to all of this is single-fare pricing and removal of the refund fee for walk-up tickets. Then you don't need any of that faff. If you want to come back a different way than you already bought, refund the ticket you've got and buy a new one. Easy.
Strong agree (although NS do have 'day returns' and such, but that's more an automatically computed discount).

When people can tap in and tap out, knowing they'll get a charged a sensible fare and not worrying about what sort of ticket it is, it all gets a lot easier.
 

Starmill

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That simply isn't true. TfL can set whatever fare structure they like for journeys within the Tube or TfL bus, which is the vast, vast majority of them.
It was the majority in time gone by but its closer to an even split now when you consider the number of routes available. For example the Department insisted that the DART from Luton Airport Parkway is charged outside of the relevant caps, while EMR and GTR services must be included in the caps, which requires a lot of unnecessary work and thus cost to get right. A similar issue exists at Wimbledon where TfL controls the Tramlink prices but not the station and gateline. Logic is therefore in place go assign journeys which are incorrectly touched to GTR, SWR or to Tramlink, all developed at vast cost. Such nonsense simply wouldn't be tolerated under a sensible system.

I do agree that charging a supplement for high speed trains that aren't really high speed is silly. In Switzerland there is, fortunately, no such nonsense that I know of.
Indeed. They're not high speed at all, they're purely very slightly quicker. And yet there they are charging premiums for them.

It really isn't a difficult IT problem.
In my experience, essentially nothing these days is actually an IT or technology problem. The only real problem is business intransigence, or highly risk-averse organisational behaviour.
 
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Dryce

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So if paper tickets were stopped, and everything was done on a smartphone, what happens should you lose your phone while out and about. How would you then make the return journey, because you wouldnt be able to buy a ticket as paper tickets no longer exist.

So what do you do if you lose a paper ticket?

An e-Ticket is really just a code. It shouldn't have to be tied to a phone. A printout of the QR code and a note of the reference number should be enough to recover any situation - possibly being in a better position than a lost paper ticket.
 

Sprinter107

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So what do you do if you lose a paper ticket?

An e-Ticket is really just a code. It shouldn't have to be tied to a phone. A printout of the QR code and a note of the reference number should be enough to recover any situation - possibly being in a better position than a lost paper ticket.
Well if you lose a paper ticket, you go and purchase another, its as simple as that. If you have a ticket on a smartphone and you lose that, its not so easy is it. But as has been pointed out, tickets are not to be phased out as such. I miss understood, and thought everything was to go on smartphone.
 

Starmill

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I'm not sure either of those things are necessary in the way they were now COVID has reduced the level of loadings in central London and the Elizabeth Line has
In time gone by i.e. up until mid-March 2020, I think that there was a genuine business imperative to have more people travel on the West London and North London lines, to relive Euston and Waterloo and more importantly the Victoria, Central and Jubilee lines in Central London. It was essentially impossible to increase capacity on these three lines, while there was some unused capacity in the West London and North London lines, so it did have lots of business sense.

Obviously today it is doubtful this exists.
 

Philip

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Why would that make any difference? Savings still need to made and the world has moved on from booking offices. Voting Labour didn’t stop the 1960s closures.

Still serving typically between 100-200 people per 8 hour shift in the booking office, so to say the 'world has moved on from booking offices' is generalising, at least partially inaccurate and provocative.
 

Starmill

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So if paper tickets were stopped, and everything was done on a smartphone, what happens should you lose your phone while out and about. How would you then make the return journey, because you wouldnt be able to buy a ticket as paper tickets no longer exist.
There are some things which are only available on a smartphone app, but not many. For example the Lidl Plus app contains vouchers which are available exclusively for the Android and iOS apps. But crucially Lidl still welcome cash and nearly all cards as payment methods. They just won't offer you the vouchers without an app.
 

Worm

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To be fair this isn't really true. For example there are a number of stations such as Bloxwich and Flowery Field where there's no ticket machine long term because they were repeatedly vandalised.
Ironic about Flowery Field, I was on the Glossop line last weekend and a group of teenage girls sat behind me were remarking how cute the station name sounded when we stopped there.
 

HamworthyGoods

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There still will be a role/need for some ticket offices at major stations like in many European countries. All TVM's should be video enabled to a regional centre where staff would assist the customer by taking control virtually and selling you the right ticket. This will be important to safeguard passengers especially those who are visually impared who do actually require staff assistance and many other disabled persons. Also a video link would be helpful for other customer service enquiries such as refunds.
Closing of all retailing facilities would be madness.

Sweden manages to cope just fine without ticket offices - there’s ZERO of them now, not even one at Stockholm Central station.
 

Bletchleyite

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Surreytraveller

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Far more likely to get the wrong ticket from a ticket office, in my experience.

When I buy online I know exactly what I am getting.

Also for most journeys it would cost a lot more to ask at the ticket office, and I wouldn't be able to use a seat selector.
Indeed. Training is so poor, that the only way ticket office staff will do their job properly is if they have an interest in it, or they have knowledgeable colleagues to assist and mentor them
 

Sm5

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Are you happy to pay extra to fund the ongoing cost of employing that person, when most people don't have a need for them?

(I jest not - Nederlandse Spoorwegen charges extra for buying from the booking office and has for some time)
i dont think thats unreasonable myself, its a personal choice.

Carry a power bank.
Carry a USB cable (many charging opportunities these days).
Print your e-ticket out.
Buy your ticket from a TVM.
Get a better phone.

Lots of options.
if your a business traveller away from home, travelling with a printer is not practical.

Secondly, my mother is nearly 80, I spent an hour yesterday guiding her to the volume button on the side of her iphone I gave her. Try as I might at her age i’m not going to get her able to buy a ticket on an iphone…, I will also never stop her from finding the best deal in a supermarket, or travelling to the seaside on her own every weekend… She is an age / mindset that they are what they are and the internet isnt one of them.

So the only practical one is a TVM… now she has a story here too.. a few weeks ago she went to hospital in the car, bought a parking ticket at a TVM, but she forgot the ticket. A few weeks later she got a pcn… upset she paid it, but as it was online she couldnt… so she sent a cheque in the post. A week after the 14 days she got a full fine and threats for legal escalation… they hadnt checked their mail.
Distressed she called me… I checked online, saw the cheque was cashed and the fine cleared at the original rate… she relaxed…. Then last week she recieved a letter saying the fine was being canceled and the money refunded… turns out the tvm was faulty and didnt print properly… she was vindicated.

Had that stress put my mother in an early grave it would be a very different conversation. Thats why the system cannot assume one size fits all… it might suit 80% but you cannot discriminate against the other 20%.. how does a blind person buy tickets on an iphone and know when its going flat ?
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Why could it not just be government policy to remove 'complicated' ticket types from sale?
(I'm not saying I want that but many want simplification and they generally are niche products and it would be a facilitative move towards making it possible to close ticket offices if everything was simpler - eg just singles and returns, then ultimately just two types of single ticket)
I can buy a regional rover for Bavaria or any region in Germany online as an e-ticket (or even the €9 monthly national ticket).
It can't be that hard to implement.
Getting a refund from DB remotely was quite straightforward too.
I've even bought bus/tram day tickets for Lviv in Ukraine online!
We are really behind the curve with online ticketing.
 

Class360/1

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The Sunday Times is reporting today that:




Unfortunately, the full artice is behind a paywall.

While electronic tickets have advantages for many, railway ticketing is currently so complicated that for journeys that are not straightforward, closing all ticket offices is fraught with problems. It also relies on having a working mobile phone with the ability to display the relevant ticket when travelling, unless it is intended to have a nationwide "contactless" ticketing system with electronic card readers at every station.

Comments?
Doesn’t sound good. When the ticket office at my local station broke down, a large queue formed behind me. There was a large faf, followed by staff trying their best to help people on self service machines. Someone even walked away.

Then, at another station, everyone was queuing for the ticket office, despite there being a working ticket machine.

Both of the above happened in 2022. Ticket offices are still relevant and have a part in medium-large stations.

Ps good luck closing Frinton On Sea ticket office without tonnes of opposition. Frinton has a large elderly population who mostly rely on the ticket office; it’s why it was given a reprieve in 2018.
 
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Bletchleyite

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if your a business traveller away from home, travelling with a printer is not practical.

Exactly how many business travellers don't own a smartphone or similar device (usually company-provided) and know how to keep the battery topped up?

I'll answer that for you - none. Zero. 0. Smartphones are essential tools for business travellers these days.

For occasional business travellers, their company travel provider will either send a printed e-ticket or they'll print it in the office.

Secondly, my mother is nearly 80, I spent an hour yesterday guiding her to the volume button on the side of her iphone I gave her. Try as I might at her age i’m not going to get her able to buy a ticket on an iphone…, I will also never stop her from finding the best deal in a supermarket, or travelling to the seaside on her own every weekend… She is an age / mindset that they are what they are and the internet isnt one of them.

So the only practical one is a TVM… now she has a story here too.. a few weeks ago she went to hospital in the car, bought a parking ticket at a TVM, but she forgot the ticket. A few weeks later she got a pcn… upset she paid it, but as it was online she couldnt… so she sent a cheque in the post. A week after the 14 days she got a full fine and threats for legal escalation… they hadnt checked their mail.
Distressed she called me… I checked online, saw the cheque was cashed and the fine cleared at the original rate… she relaxed…. Then last week she recieved a letter saying the fine was being canceled and the money refunded… turns out the tvm was faulty and didnt print properly… she was vindicated.

Had that stress put my mother in an early grave it would be a very different conversation. Thats why the system cannot assume one size fits all… it might suit 80% but you cannot discriminate against the other 20%.. how does a blind person buy tickets on an iphone and know when its going flat ?

It would be cheaper to give totally free travel to those who through a disability can't use a TVM or smartphone, to be honest. I'd very much go that way. London already effectively does for residents with the Freedom Pass.

As for older people who just don't get any form of tech (not even a TVM), they are rapidly "aging off the top". Your mother may live another 10 years, maybe another 20, but barring medical miracles pretty certainly won't live another 30. This generation is quite literally dying off. The present "incoming" generation of elderly are people like my parents who are never off the Internet and their smartphones. It's the age of the "silver surfer".
 

JonathanH

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I can buy a regional rover for Bavaria or any region in Germany online as an e-ticket (or even the €9 monthly national ticket).
It can't be that hard to implement.
The risk is fare evasion, in particular people not using these tickets where they are intended to be used.

Removing all kinds of tickets except single fares valid from a to b reduces the need for ticket staff, simplifies the sales process and makes the job of checking tickets on trains much simpler, all of which reduces costs.

I expect that the people making the decisions do not use rover tickets. If looking for steps that could be taken to enable a reduction in staff, simplifying tickets down to the most basic levels would be one of the most obvious steps to take.
 

Sm5

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Exactly how many business travellers don't own a smartphone or similar device (usually company-provided) and know how to keep the battery topped up?

I'll answer that for you - none. Zero. 0. Smartphones are essential tools for business travellers these days.

For occasional business travellers, their company travel provider will either send a printed e-ticket or they'll print it in the office.



It would be cheaper to give totally free travel to those who through a disability can't use a TVM or smartphone, to be honest. I'd very much go that way. London already effectively does for residents with the Freedom Pass.

As for older people who just don't get any form of tech (not even a TVM), they are rapidly "aging off the top". Your mother may live another 10 years, maybe another 20, but barring medical miracles pretty certainly won't live another 30. This generation is quite literally dying off. The present "incoming" generation of elderly are people like my parents who are never off the Internet and their smartphones. It's the age of the "silver surfer".
definitely not zero.
try keeping a phone fully charged after a 12 hour flight, with calls etc before and after… most trains dont have chargers, theres a unlimited number of posts in the disputes thread where a phone has gone flat, malfunctioned in some way.

Phone tech is much more volatile than a paper ticket, fortunately that would appear not to be an issue in this case of closing stations If tvm remains.

However regardless how old, disabled, disadvantaged someone is, there is no case for cutting them out of the system… theres enough laws to land train companies in court if they tried…. Which probably is why the tvm will persist… and if its not usable at wheelchair height (like at my local stations), i’m sure that will get tested too.

I am left wondering how closing a ticket office and redeploying them at the barrier gives a saving ?.. all my local southern metro stations have 2 staff, (except the already unstaffed ones), one at the gate, the other in the office… so does that mean we get two at the barrier, or does one move to the previously unstaffed station ?…
 

ALEMASTER

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We've had a fair few years now where the railway (or should I say the politicians controlling the railway) decided that costs need to be cut - which they do - but deciding that the way to save money is to cut staff and every time this happens the customer experience deteriorates as a result.

Yes, booking offices aren't as busy as they used to be and a lot more tickets are sold either online or at TVMs now but there still needs to be a sales and customer service presence at stations so closing the booking offices completely would be wrong, they just need to continue to adapt to the times.

In many areas staffing is already cut to the bone and the quality of service is suffering. Yet there are many areas much more deserving of changes to save money that are left untouched such as all companies in the industry only being allowed to buy from a small number of approved suppliers that charge rip off prices for everything as they have a monopoly?
 

Bletchleyite

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definitely not zero.
try keeping a phone fully charged after a 12 hour flight, with calls etc before and after… most trains dont have chargers, theres a unlimited number of posts in the disputes thread where a phone has gone flat, malfunctioned in some way.

People who take 12-hour flights have power banks. And most planes used on 12-hour flights have USB charging sockets.

Find me one of those posts that isn't from a laid back young person who basically posted "uhh, didn't think it was important".

Phone tech is much more volatile than a paper ticket, fortunately that would appear not to be an issue in this case of closing stations If tvm remains.

Paper tickets can be lost. But I'd agree TVMs won't go away, I've said this multiple times.

I am left wondering how closing a ticket office and redeploying them at the barrier gives a saving ?.. all my local southern metro stations have 2 staff, (except the already unstaffed ones), one at the gate, the other in the office… so does that mean we get two at the barrier, or does one move to the previously unstaffed station ?…

One goes (by natural wastage), leaving one.
 

Bletchleyite

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Which quite often inflates the queue as 18 of them are clogged up with people that can't use them properly.

My experience is that they do nothing of the sort. I personally quite like them for a small shop. I even like them for a larger shop because I can pack at my leisure rather than stuff being thrown at me. (The Aldi option of "chuck it back in the trolley and pack at the side" also works but most non-German supermarkets don't have a layout that allows for that).
 

baz962

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So if paper tickets were stopped, and everything was done on a smartphone, what happens should you lose your phone while out and about. How would you then make the return journey, because you wouldnt be able to buy a ticket as paper tickets no longer exist.
And always will be people that can't use them. My mother in her late seventies, has even gone on simple courses that teach you to use a pc. She still regularly phones me to ask me to help her with it. She can make phone calls on her mobile , but still struggles to text or retrieve voicemail.
 

Bletchleyite

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And always will be people that can't use them. My mother in her late seventies, has even gone on simple courses that teach you to use a pc. She still regularly phones me to ask me to help her with it. She can make phone calls on her mobile , but still struggles to text or retrieve voicemail.

Does she have, or has she tried, an iPhone? It's certainly the case that the Apple UIs are more intuitive than the others for people who don't think like a computer user. If I wanted to get an older person connected, I'd give them an iPad, not a PC.
 

HamworthyGoods

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Surely instead of all this speculation of who might struggle with technology / granny won’t the able to travel anymore etc it would be easier just to look at countries like Sweden, Norway or the Netherlands where either all or all but a handful of ticket offices have closed and see how those traveller profiles are catered for there. Most counties in Europe have a similar age profile.
 

baz962

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My experience is that they do nothing of the sort. I personally quite like them for a small shop. I even like them for a larger shop because I can pack at my leisure rather than stuff being thrown at me. (The Aldi option of "chuck it back in the trolley and pack at the side" also works but most non-German supermarkets don't have a layout that allows for that).
In my experience they do. I have been at the back of the queue that never moves and at the front as the machine either keeps on saying, unexpected item in bagging area, or please replace item in bagging area. I have been held up so many times in all the major supermarket chains.
 

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