More time for public to have their say as ticket office consultation deadline extended
Following feedback from passengers, the rail industry has given more time for the consultation on changes to ticket offices. The consultation will now close on Friday 1 September, 2023.
Input from passengers and independent watchdogs will help shape final proposals, so all rail users are supported as the railway responds to generational shifts in passenger buying habits.
The consultation is happening as part of an industry-wide set of proposals that would mean ticket office staff would work on station platforms and concourses where they can be closer to customers. Subject to consultation, ticket offices could be phased out over a number of years.
Ticket office staff would be freed up to work in other areas of the station where they are closer to customers and better placed to help, in line with models already in place at some Great Western Railway stations such as Newbury or Reading Green Park.
A new role, based on the existing station multi-skilled roles already in place on the GWR network since 2007, would be created to allow staff to help more customers with a wider range of issues. Instead of being confined to just one area, these roles would be able to help customers in many more ways – including those with additional accessibility needs - wherever they are on the station.
It is a way of working already in place at some Great Western Railway stations, including Newbury and Reading Green Park stations.
Customers’ use of online and digital ticketing has accelerated over the past four years, and today, just 14.5% of GWR tickets are sold at ticket offices. The changes would align the rail industry with many other retailers, including banks, which have offered counter-free services for over a decade.
The Passenger Assist programme – which helps disabled and mobility-impaired customers navigate stations and board trains – will not be affected by the changes. In fact, the proposals are designed to increase staff trained and available to help customers at stations across the network, including those with additional accessibility needs.
A spokesperson for GWR said:
“Digital tickets and mobile phones means our ticket office staff are helping around half the number of people they did in 2019. It makes sense to move staff where they can be more help to more customers, and provide more training to help with a wider range of issues– like assisting those with reduced mobility through stations and onto our trains.
“This consultation is designed to allow the public to test and examine our proposals, and make sure our plans are compliant with the safeguards put in place at privatisation so that the needs of customers will still be met.”
Those who wish to have a say should visit: www.GWR.com/haveyoursay and follow the links to either Transport Focus or London TravelWatch, who are independently running the consultation, by Friday 1 September.
Who benefits from these changes?
A key benefit of these changes is that they greatly improve the ability to make staff available at the right place and time to help customers face-to-face, rather than being restricted to just selling tickets from behind a glass window.
The plans would move staff to a new role, based on the principles of the station multi-skilled role – in place at GWR since 2007. This would allow staff to help more customers with a wider range of issues, including helping them to buy tickets, wherever they are on the station.
The changes also ensure a more visible staff presence around the station during staffed hours, on ticket concourses and on platforms where staff can also help deter anti-social behaviour.
I have a disability and can’t use ticket machines. Will I still get help at the station?
Yes. There will be more staff with more training on platforms and station concourses, helping passengers to plan journeys and use digital and self-service ticketing machines.
Two-thirds of GWR stations already operate without ticket offices, which means they have well-established arrangements that allow customers to travel without a ticket before buying on board trains or at their destination station if there is no other option.
The approach would help bring station retailing up-to-date from 1996, when the rules on how to sell tickets were set and before the invention of the smartphone. Back then, 82% of all tickets were sold at ticket offices nationally, compared to less than 15% on average today. Bringing staff out from offices would allow the railway to respond to the generational shift in customer behaviour, in common with many other industries and organisations that have long since done so such as Transport for London, most airlines and many banks and supermarkets.
Media Relations Manager
Great Western Railway
0845 410 4444