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20.04.12

‘Ticket office closure’ emails raised in Parliament

Leaked emails in which DfT officials admit decisions on ticket office closures have already been made by ministers have been raised in Parliament.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle told the Commons yesterday: “I have here a leaked email dated just two weeks ago from the civil servant responsible for the rail fares and ticketing review. It says: ‘The minister has already decided to approve some ticket office closures, it's just not been announced yet. There will be more of those in the future.’”

Eagle continued: “What’s worse, she then admits that ministers plan to pin the blame for these closures on the train companies, saying: ‘Your way of slipping in there that the initiative comes from the TOCs not us is very neat’.”

She asked rail minister Theresa Villiers: “Will you now own up and admit that you’ve already given the green light to these closures which passengers won’t find very neat but very inconvenient and very expensive?”

The emails, originally leaked to the TSSA, were described as “proof-positive” by its general secretary Manuel Cortes that ministers were planning to close hundreds of ticket offices, point the finger at the train operators and “hoodwink passengers over where the real blame lays”.

But Villiers, in Parliament, said: “You are talking about the proposal from London Midland. That proposal is being considered but no final decision is made on those proposals.”

The Government is expected to announce its official decision on the closures, which were recommended in principle by Sir Roy McNulty’s report in spring 2011, later this year.

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