|Volume 53 Number 23, August 5, 2023
Ticket office closure consultations, which were due to close on July 26 after just a 21-day consultation period, will now be extended until September 1.
Campaigning by RMT members and activists in conjunction with disabled peoples' groups, passenger groups, politicians and others has undoubtedly forced the government and train companies' hand, states the National Union of Rail Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT). Under the original timescales they wanted this process completed by the end of August.
Transport Focus have confirmed that over 170,000 consultation responses have already been received. The campaign will now be ramped up over the coming weeks to maximise public opposition to the closure proposals. When the consultations close on September 1, there will be a 35-day period during which Transport Focus and London Travelwatch review the consultation responses. At the end of this period, they can either object or accept the operators' proposals. Where Transport Focus and London Travelwatch object to closures, and the train company still wishes to proceed, it will then be referred to the Secretary of State for a decision. As is well known, the government has been vocal in its support for ticket office closures.
A group of Labour metro mayors is mounting a legal challenge, and there is also a legal challenge by disabled passengers.
Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the RMT, has said: "Make no mistake, whilst it is clear that the consultations have only been extended as a result of the pressure arising from our campaign, this is not enough. Our campaign to protect all ticket offices must now intensify and our message to the government and train companies is clear - these proposals are bad for passenger safety, security, accessibility and bad for staff. They must abandon all of these damaging proposals once and for all."