Harriet Harman

Parliament has been dissolved until after the General Election and I am no longer an MP

Strong opposition to proposed rail ticket office closures

Closing Southern Rail and Southeastern Railway ticket offices will hit women, elderly and disabled. These plans must be ditched.

I wrote to the CEOs of Southern and Southeastern expressing my concern and opposition. 

I am writing to you to express my strong opposition to plans to close railway ticket offices in
Camberwell and Peckham, including Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye, Nunhead and Queens
Road Peckham.

Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye are busy interchange stations, where the loss of ticket staff
would be particularly damaging, and Denmark Hill is the station for King’s College Hospital,
meaning it is frequently used by people with medical impairments that mean they need
additional support from station staff already.

I have been contacted by numerous constituents with a range of concerns about proposed
closures to railway ticket offices. One in nine tickets are still sold at physical ticket offices
and changes to staffing would disproportionately impact disabled and elderly people. The
Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has said that the mass closure of rail ticket
offices “would have a hugely detrimental impact on blind and partially sighted people’s
ability to buy tickets, arrange assistance and, critically, travel independently”. Only 3% of
people who are partially sighted said they could use a ticket machine without problems. 58%
said it would be impossible.

For many people, public transport is essential for their independence and ability to be part of society. Making it less accessible risks having a significant financial, social and professional impact on their lives, exacerbating already-damaging social inequalities.

This point has been illustrated by one of my constituents, who posted their response on
twitter as the consultation itself was inaccessible to them. I have attached their illustration to this letter. It is a striking visual depiction of the impact these office closures will have on people who are already underserved by our public  transport. I hope you take careful note of it.

The proposal that staff should be out and about on the station instead of a ticket office raises a number of issues. How would a woman on her own at night know if the person who purports to give her information about train services is actually an employee? That is of course clear if she’s talking to someone in a ticket office. If a blind person approaches the ticket office, they will know the bona fides of the person they are talking to. They would not be able to verify the identity of someone on the station platform or concourse. Also taking employees out of the ticket office that will create vulnerability of station staff, particularly women, who will not have the protection of being in a ticket office. 

These proposed changes come after people across the country have faced worse services at higher costs. I would be grateful if you could provide information on:

  • What will happen to the staff who will no longer be in the ticket offices?
  • What additional provisions are you introducing to ensure that no-one is adversely
    affected by these proposals?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Picture credit: https://twitter.com/touretteshero/status/1684131272510042113;
@touretteshero; https://www.touretteshero.com/ 


published this page in Current News 2023-09-15 13:40:26 +0100

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