The Department for Transport has made a decision on London Midland’s request to cut the opening hours of railway station ticket office opening hours – first reported here on 9th March 2011.
At the time there was a broadly based campaign against the proposals (my post on 9th March 2011 highlights the reasons). There is some good news in that the London Midland proposals have not been accepted in full, and the cuts in opening hours have been scaled back, however the scale of the reductions remains very disappointing.
Across the West Midlands the plans to close 9 stations’s ticket offices permanently have been scaled back to 4 with Cheddington, Lye, Witton and Wythall having their ticket offices closed and Adderley Park, Bescot Stadium, Duddeston, Jewellery Quarter and Small Heath having their ticket offices reprieved.
Here in Acocks Green ward, Acocks Green station’s ticket office will move to opening from 7am to 4pm, Monday to Thursday, 7am to 6pm on Friday and 8am till 4pm on Saturdays. It will be closed on Sundays. The proposal had been to close it at 2pm on Mondays to Thursdays so it will be open a total of 8 hours longer than London Midland proposed. Spring Road’s ticket office will be open from 7am to 11am, Monday to Friday and 9am to 2pm on Saturday. It will also close on Sunday. Tyseley will be open from 7am to 9am Monday to Friday. These changes are likely to take place in early 2013.
The logic to the changes is that under the old system, which meant ticket offices had to be open from the time of the first train till the last of the day, some ticket offices, especially in less well used stations, are staffed at times when very few tickets were bought and thereby run at a big loss to London Midland. As more people buy their tickets online this has become a bigger issue. However this argument misses the point that ticket staff also bring many other benefits to stations than simply selling tickets, such as improving passenger safety and reducing vandalism to stations.
While the extra 8 hours a week at Acocks Green station is welcome, I’ll make no bones about the fact that I think the Government has got this decision wrong. It did a great job in agreeing (see my post of 8th December 2011) to invest £1m in the physical infrastructure of Acocks Green Station, allowing the installation of much needed passenger lifts, new stairs and an extended footbridge. But this time the decision gives too much to London Midland and too little to passengers.
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