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GTR to close ticket offices, but promises staff will remain at stations

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is to close ticket offices or reduce the hours they are available at 83 stations, but has promised the reforms will be subject to consultation with Transport Focus and London Travel Watch.

GTR said that the closures would affect 83 of its busier stations on the Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink lines, where passengers increasingly bought their tickets online, or use Oyster, contactless and smartcards.

It also said the stations would remain staffed at all times, with staff acting as station hosts instead of staying in the ticket office.

Keith Jipps, GTR passenger services director, said: “We appreciate the assistance and views of Transport Focus and London TravelWatch and for their support for our plans going forward.

“We think the consultation has been a success as we’ve been able to listen to our passengers and modify our proposals to meet their needs now and in the future. We believe our new station hosts will be of great benefit to our passengers, providing assistance for more hours each day with the same tickets available as today.

“I’d like to thank passengers for responding to the consultation and feel confident that these changes will reassure them that our proposals will improve passengers’ experience in our stations.”

However, the latest National Rail Passenger survey from Transport Focus found that the ticket office is still the most popular means of buying tickets.

GTR said the staffing changes would allow them to increase the opening hours of waiting rooms, toilets and lifts. It added that, following the consultation, there would be a ‘soft launch’ of the scheme first at pilot stations to ensure it worked.

London TravelWatch CEO Janet Cooke said: “We are pleased that the operator has looked again at the changes it was proposing and decided to pilot the changes it will be making at a few stations before further expansion is contemplated.” She added that the changes met “almost all” of passengers’ concerns.

GTR also made a commitment to keep ticket offices open during the morning peak and install 63 new ticketing machines in order to reduce overcrowding.

Following concerns that the full range of tickets would not be available within London Travelcard zones, GTR promised that the full range of tickets would be available.

The operator is also in discussions with disabled passenger groups, and says that it expects the station hosts will improve services for disabled passengers.

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Jerry Alderson   09/06/2016 at 16:31

The headline is too negative in my opinion. It is not about closures in the sense of cutting staff or reducing service to save money. It is about using staff more productively to give better customer service and growing use of the railway, which is in everyone's interest. Obviously this is reliant upon GTR sticking to the promises they've made to organisations such as Railfuture (which had a dialogue with GTR over this), but if implemented properly (with passenger experience being the priority) it should see an improved service.

David Mcdonald   10/06/2016 at 09:44

Ok great but can you buy a Railcard at a ticket machine? No. Can you spend your rail vouchers at a ticket machine? No. Can you get help when you need to change your tickets at a ticket machine? No. Can you get a annual season ticket at a ticket machine? No. My local station is set to lose its office but there is always a queue at the office, the ticket machines never work and there is only one machine causing long queues. When i goes there is no way for me to do any of the mentioned above without either going to another station or buying online and waiting for a week for my railcard to arrive.

David Nicholson   10/06/2016 at 12:21

And to supplement David McDonald's comment, can you buy a single ticket to a station beyond your season ticket at ticket machine? No, because all the ticket machines assume I am starting my journey at the station I am at. And I do this often.

John Grant   10/06/2016 at 15:28

David, the ticket machines at Waterbeach (an unstaffed GN station) have an option to buy tickets from another station.

Andy Camp   10/06/2016 at 16:46

Yet again, and probably with Dft provocation, there is a headlong rush to spend vast sums of money on automation which allows the removal or re-allocation of staff available to the consumer. Despite the obsessive proclamations to the contrary, people do like staff in attendance and as stated above, to source tickets the top option is a Booking Office. For years barriers have been forced into stations, often in areas totally unsuited to them, and on many occasions are locked open as regulatory staff are unavailable or are hiding. I personally think this obsessiveness with technology, further encouraged by this latest move is counter productive and anti-user. But it fits with the ideology from some faceless oik at the Dft, so there is no choice!

Jerry Alderson   10/06/2016 at 17:28

Based on e-mails from Keith Jipps to Railfuture, who asked that everything that was currently sold would still be sold, all of the things that David Mcdonald and David Nicholson WILL still be told at those stations by the new "hosts" and they will al be operating for longer hours than every ticket office that is being closed. If this promise is kept then it should be a real improvement to passengers. But Railfuture raised other concerns such as the ability to locate the host and also how a queuing system for the host would operate so that people did not push in front (somewhat harder to implment than for a ticket office).

Lutz   11/06/2016 at 15:49

A welcomed development. Please speed it up and get the issues sorted out.

Ron Lander   11/06/2016 at 22:23

A very retrograde step!

Gabriel Oaks   13/06/2016 at 06:22

My local halt just has ticket machines which are of little use and regularly reject cards. So I have to travel into my local town to use the manned ticket office there - except this is now scheduled for closure...... Doh! .

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