All railway ticket offices in England to close?

Sprinter107

Member
Joined
26 Mar 2019
Messages
795
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.
I'm not great with tech I must say. I find much of it complicated, and there's much I can't do.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

baz962

Established Member
Joined
8 Jun 2017
Messages
2,588
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.
She has a tablet I believe, although not an apple. As for an IPhone. Ha. My mother genuinely uses tea bags twice and won't spend a single penny on most items. I would never be able to convince her to get an IPhone.
 

DelayRepay

Established Member
Joined
21 May 2011
Messages
2,261
I know analogies with other industries aren't always helpful, but I think you should look at my industry (banking) as a sign of things to come.

When I joined the industry, there were bank branches in most reasonably sized settlements and suburbs, and this was after several rounds of closures had already happened. Now, outside of city and town centres there are very few branches. This is becuse most customers have changed their way of banking. There are far fewer cash and cheque transactions now, account servicing can mostly be done on line and new accounts are mostly opened online.

When we close a branch, we hear all the same arguments. What about Auntie Mary who needs to withdraw cash because she doesn't like using the ATM or paying for her shopping with a card? What about Uncle Bob who needs to pay in a once a year cheque but doesn't have a smart phone and doesn't trust the Post Office? What about someone who loses their card and needs some cash while they wait for a new one?

The truth is the industry found solutions for most of these problems, that didn't involve keeping an expensive branch open and staffed for the benefit of what was often 10 customers a day.

Yes, the railway needs to find solutions to marginal cases like ticket types that cannot be bought online, passengers who struggle with TVMs etc, but these are not particularly difficult. And I am almost certain they won't involve retaining a ticket office.

I make quite a lot of rail journeys. The last time I used a ticket office was years ago, back when Delay Repay used to be paid using paper vouchers. Of all the journeys I've made since then, I've never had need to use a ticket office and neither have I incurred penalty fares or threatened with prosecution due to a flat phone battery, a faulty TVM or any of the other scenarios people are suggesting.
 

Peter0124

Established Member
Joined
20 Nov 2016
Messages
1,288
Location
Glasgow
How am I supposed to pay Scotrail concessionary fare then? Can't be bought online or at TVMs.
 

Peter0124

Established Member
Joined
20 Nov 2016
Messages
1,288
Location
Glasgow
ScotRail is a devolved matter so they may well not proceed with the same closure scheme. But if they do, there will be options to purchase it online or from the TVM.
Fingers cross its online cause TVMs are annoying to use sometimes. Eg sometimes it cant read my card and rejects it.
 

Snow1964

Established Member
Joined
7 Oct 2019
Messages
2,256
Location
West Wiltshire
If you can post on this Forum you can buy a ticket online, though.

I haven’t yet found a way with my paper delay repay vouchers whilst online, or at my local stations TVM. But I can post on this forum even if buying a ticket with vouchers is too cryptic for me.

So perhaps @Bletchleyite would be kind enough to give a step by step dummies guide for people like me, or accept non ticket office transactions are only useful for sub-set of ticket issuing
 

DelayRepay

Established Member
Joined
21 May 2011
Messages
2,261
I haven’t yet found a way with my paper delay repay vouchers whilst online, or at my local stations TVM. But I can post on this forum even if buying a ticket with vouchers is too cryptic for me.
You cannot use paper vouchers online. If ticket offices close then I imagine paper vouchers will be phased out anyway as they will be impossible to use. The solution is to request a refund to your bank account, or an e-voucher. I think most if not all TOCs offer both options.
 

ScotsRail

Member
Joined
19 Aug 2019
Messages
66
Location
Aberfeldy
How am I supposed to pay Scotrail concessionary fare then? Can't be bought online or at TVMs.
Scotrail floated the same idea a few months ago, following their consultation they are not closing all of the ticket offices - 3 will permanently shut but the rest are staying open for now.


edit - added link
 

U-Bahnfreund

Member
Joined
6 Feb 2015
Messages
299
Location
Karlsruhe, Germany
Sweden manages to cope just fine without ticket offices - there’s ZERO of them now, not even one at Stockholm Central station.
How do you know? Maybe people who want to use the railway there are just turned off completely. Three years ago when I went to Stockholm, I used the SJ ticket office there when the route my train was supposed to go was blocked due to a fire and they changed the booking from the direct X2000 to a route via Gothenburg with X2000 and Øresundståg (without charging me anything). If I were there today I would have no idea how to do that online, because I have no idea how the Swedish rail ticketing works, and honestly, I don't think I should be to be expected to.

I agree that ticket offices don't have to be everywhere, but abolishing all of them is a bad idea imho.
 

centraltrains

Member
Joined
3 Jan 2015
Messages
467
Location
West Midlands
I can't see that staff can be sensibly redeployed to other front-line duties at many suburban rail stations, would they mainly be standing next to the single TVM ready to help?

Many ticket offices have unusual part-time opening hours, like Jewellery Quarter: 4pm-6pm Fridays and 11am-1pm & 4pm-5pm Saturdays - is there any sensibility to having staff around at niche times of the day?
Or many have peak-time hourly only like Tyseley & Small Heath: 7am-9am Monday-Friday. If commuters are the most self-served - what's the point in having staff around only at the peak hours?

Full closure/unstaffed status would surely seem more sensible in situations like these.


What will happen at these types of smaller stations where waiting rooms & toilets are only open when the ticket office is open? Guess they might end up like Henley-in-Arden where everything is boarded up which isn't the most aesthetically pleasing site... can't see that money would be put in to make facilities suitable unstaffed.



I appreciate the role ticket office staff play in speeding up departures at these types of stations where ramp assistance is required.
 

Class 317

Member
Joined
7 Jul 2020
Messages
55
Location
Cotswolds
Whilst am not against having no ticket office as I haven't used them for ages, it's important any closures include consideration for those who are disabled including less visible disabilities along with the elderly and anyone else who may be less able to use technology.

TVM also need to be upgraded to have both live chat and video call support functions. Also modes able to be selected to make them more accessible for everyone that struggle to use. Slot of people with hidden disabilities don't always get the support they need.

Redploying staff in multi function customer support roles would ensure a better journey for many.

Obviously TVM being able to sell all ticket types and railcars would be important.
 

MikeWM

Established Member
Joined
26 Mar 2010
Messages
3,278
Location
Ely
I've yet to see anyone explain how my usual example of getting a PlusBus addon to a season ticket is supposed to work without a ticket office. I don't see that is going to ever be added to TVMs or online purchase, so I guess we just lose this rather useful class of tickets?

It does seem a fairly basic requirement that there should be some sensible alternative for purchasing all ticket types available *before* removing ticket offices. By sensible I mean 'turn up at the station and purchase without needing to own and be carrying some expensive device'. If every possible ticket is available at the TVMs, and they take all payment types, that would be sufficient for most things I suppose - but do we realistically see that happening?

I think we're also overlooking the role ticket office staff play when things go wrong. Trivial example : I bought the wrong ticket from a TVM a couple of years ago, because the super-off-peak TOC-specific and the off-peak any permitted were almost the same price. A quick trip to the ticket office sorted that out. Without a ticket office, I guess I'd just have to have paid out twice.

I've been queuing up at Ely ticket office quite a bit over the past few months, because during the refurbishment that's been the only way to buy a ticket with cash. It is popular still. I'd say a good proportion of queries are from people unfamiliar with the railways that need basic advice on which ticket to buy. TVMs don't do that.

One further point : if this goes like LUL, the result will be staff trying to man the gatelines and help out with ticket machines and queries at the same time. The outcome of which is that if there are any problems with your ticket, you can be standing like a lemon for many minutes failing to get through the gateline while the staff member is busy trying to explain to someone how to use the machines. It is quite a step backwards.
 

pt_mad

Established Member
Joined
26 Sep 2011
Messages
2,838
Indeed so. Merseyrail's ticket offices are an utter waste of money now - switch to offering contactless (and an Oyster like product for children) and they would serve pretty much no purpose at all.

It's an easy cut to make, too, because strikes would do nothing to affect daily operations, as enough people already book online or use TVMs.

But how much does having a member of staff at a Merseryrail station prevent serious anti social behaviour and reduce the fear of crime? Fair bit I reckon.
Also, what we've not accounted for is the booked and unbooked passenger assistance these ticket office staff provide. If the guard spots say a visually impaired passenger on the platform struggling at the other end of the train, it's likely to mean a longer dwell in the station than if the resident station staff had guided the passenger to the train and were ready when it arrived.
Also, who would help passengers who need assistance enter and leave the station? As it stands, staff will assist anyone who requires assistance from the train to a car or taxi if necessary.

Sweden manages just fine without any station staff at all. Seems a sensible and vast cost saving that would hardly inconvenience anyone. Of course, the traditionalists will whine however, but what are their cost saving plans?
But how much anti social behaviour do they get in Sweden compared to places such as empty unstaffed urban stations and some bus shelters in the UK?

Redeploy ticket office staff to work barriers from first to last train.
Good where it can be done. But realistically, if it's a cost saving exercise it's not likely, or only likely at the busier locations. Ticket offices which might be single staffed would need multiple staff, and then there's the cost of fitting the barriers if somewhere suitable is found.
If there is a desire to close mass ticket offices to save money then it's likely to mean a net mass de-staffing of a lot of stations which are only staffed by their ticket office.

In Germany it's rare for ticket checks to take place on stations or on trains but most people do buy tickets because the penalty for trying to get a free ride is too high.
But what sort of culture do they have in Germany on the streets? Since lockdown ended especially, there are some people who simply do not intend on paying for travel and do not like authority or ignore it. They know that if they are challenged, unless the police are present, they will simply run off at their station of choice, or ignore the person challenging them. Nobody other than the police, who can restrain them, would be able to force payment or make them fear not paying.

When small village stations have multiple entry and exit points, it's not viable to put staff at all of them to check tickets, especially at quieter times.
How likely is this realistically?

My local station is ungated all the time, has only a TVM and everyone seems to manage just fine.

My local station with a ticket office is staffed by miserable, unhelpful staff and is usually empty.

My nearest city ticket office is notorious for trying not to sell tickets they don’t like the idea of…

The only ticket office that seems busy when I pass is the Northern one at Leeds, but that’s possibly because they never seem to have enough windows open.
Is your local unstaffed station urban or rural? One near me which is semi urban has gangs of youths there every weekend evening. Anyone I know who is older or some people traveling alone will not use this station in the evening.
 
Last edited:

JonathanH

Veteran Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
12,509
Good where it can be done. But realistically, if it's a cost saving exercise it's not likely, or only likely at the busier locations. Ticket offices which might be single staffed would need multiple staff, and then there's the cost of fitting the barriers if somewhere suitable is found.
If there is a desire to close mass ticket offices to save money then it's likely to mean a net mass de-staffing of a lot of stations which are only staffed by their ticket office.
My local station has one ticket office shift 6.30 to 13.30 Monday to Saturday but has its gateline staffed (by one person) 6.00 to 23.30 7 days a week.

The removal of a ticket office might create space for a gateline where there hasn't been room previously.
 

robert thomas

Member
Joined
2 Jun 2019
Messages
75
Location
Neath
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?
I changed trains at Birmingham New Street this morning and there was a queue well into the concourse for the tcket office
 

YellowBrick

Member
Joined
20 Sep 2021
Messages
28
Location
Earth

pt_mad

Established Member
Joined
26 Sep 2011
Messages
2,838
My local station has one ticket office shift 6.30 to 13.30 Monday to Saturday but has its gateline staffed (by one person) 6.00 to 23.30 7 days a week.

The removal of a ticket office might create space for a gateline where there hasn't been room previously.
But what we are talking about in many instances here is stations in villages, small towns, out of town, or suburbs. If we have a station in outer Newcastle which has a ticket office staffed part time, what chance is there they are going to fit barriers there and staff them? If any plan is to save cost then it just isn't going to happen.
 

Whistler40145

Established Member
Joined
30 Apr 2010
Messages
5,486
Location
Lancashire
Where do those individuals who don't have modern mobile phone or access to the Internet purchase tickets from if Ticket Offices won't exist or unable to purchase from a machine?
 

JonathanH

Veteran Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
12,509
But what we are talking about in many instances here is stations in villages, small towns, out of town, or suburbs. If we have a station in outer Newcastle which has a ticket office staffed part time, what chance is there they are going to fit barriers there and staff them? If any plan is to save cost then it just isn't going to happen.
Yes, you are right. Clearly not going to be able to do it before September.
 

Iskra

Established Member
Joined
11 Jun 2014
Messages
5,534
Location
North Sheffield
But how much does having a member of staff at a Merseryrail station prevent serious anti social behaviour and reduce the fear of crime? Fair bit I reckon.
Also, what we've not accounted for is the booked and unbooked passenger assistance these ticket office staff provide. If the guard spots say a visually impaired passenger on the platform struggling at the other end of the train, it's likely to mean a longer dwell in the station than if the resident station staff had guided the passenger to the train and were ready when it arrived.
Also, who would help passengers who need assistance enter and leave the station? As it stands, staff will assist anyone who requires assistance from the train to a car or taxi if necessary.


But how much anti social behaviour do they get in Sweden compared to places such as empty unstaffed urban stations and some bus shelters in the UK?


Good where it can be done. But realistically, if it's a cost saving exercise it's not likely, or only likely at the busier locations. Ticket offices which might be single staffed would need multiple staff, and then there's the cost of fitting the barriers if somewhere suitable is found.
If there is a desire to close mass ticket offices to save money then it's likely to mean a net mass de-staffing of a lot of stations which are only staffed by their ticket office.


But what sort of culture do they have in Germany on the streets? Since lockdown ended especially, there are some people who simply do not intend on paying for travel and do not like authority or ignore it. They know that if they are challenged, unless the police are present, they will simply run off at their station of choice, or ignore the person challenging them. Nobody other than the police, who can restrain them, would be able to force payment or make them fear not paying.


How likely is this realistically?


Is your local unstaffed station urban or rural? One near me which is semi urban has gangs of youths there every weekend evening. Anyone I know who is older or some people traveling alone will not use this station in the evening.
I’ve only sampled a handful of stations in Sweden, but some late at night due to sleeper train delays and I didn’t experience any anti-social behaviour, but temperatures of -9 are probably quite off putting to youths. It may well be more of an issue in the more urban Stockholm area or possibly in the summer, which I didn’t experience beyond the Central station.

If you got rid of/re-deployed ticket office staff it doesn’t necessarily follow that anti-social behaviour will rise. It could release those staff to more ‘floating’ roles within stations which could actually deter anti-social behaviour across a wider area. Alternatively, cost savings could allow more BTP officers/security to be present at more stations, which possibly more passengers may find beneficial. Here in Italy, my local station doesn’t have any Trenitalia staff, but it does have a permanent railway police presence instead.
 

Moonshot

Established Member
Joined
10 Nov 2013
Messages
3,564
Where do those individuals who don't have modern mobile phone or access to the Internet purchase tickets from if Ticket Offices won't exist or unable to purchase from a machine?
A conductor on the train will gladly take a passengers money......they do get commission after all!!
 

PeterC

Established Member
Joined
29 Sep 2014
Messages
3,605
You cannot use paper vouchers online. If ticket offices close then I imagine paper vouchers will be phased out anyway as they will be impossible to use. The solution is to request a refund to your bank account, or an e-voucher. I think most if not all TOCs offer both options.
There is no problem about designing a paper voucher that be used online. Even the NHS managed it for reporting covid test results.
 

Train2London

New Member
Joined
19 Jun 2022
Messages
4
Location
London
As an outsider to this - why can't there just be a mass expansion of contactless?
It works so well in London. Train, tube, bus, whatever, hop on, hop off, and you get charged at 4am or whatever as per your use.

Going outside London feels like stepping back in time 25 years, especially busses!

I can see still some need for 'tickets' especially longer journeys which will I guess be cheaper in advance.
For those, the ticket could be
-An online ticket printed at home
-An online ticket on a phone app, saved PDF etc
-A printed ticket from a vending machine, either via card or cash
They key thing is that the ticket format does not matter, it should just be a QR code, either from the machine or your phone etc.

Surely that must cover 99.9% of the population?
Discounts such as OAP rail cards should be either done via some app, or staff at stations could help people, in the same way staff help/check age when you buy alcohol at self service checkout.
 

Top