Ticket Office Closures - Stourbridge Line User Group

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SLUG Strongly Opposes Proposals To Close Ticket Offices
Having attended presentations given by West Midlands Trains and Chiltern Railways and spoken with concerned action groups, SLUG strongly condemns the proposal to close nearly every ticket office in England, but not in Scotland and Wales where the rail operators are controlled by devolved governments and not by the current government at Westminster.   The proposals have ostensibly been made by the Rail Delivery Group representing the rail operators, although it is barely veiled that the ultimatum has come from the Treasury who have instructed the Department for Transport to make the rail industry cut costs.
It would appear that West Midlands Trains are trying to hide the proposals as no mention is made of them or the public consultation on the home page of the West Midlands Railway website, thus forcing people to dig down in order to find details.  In addition, our local MPs seem to have gone into hiding.

Each operating company seems to have interpreted the demand for change differently, which will create inconsistency and confusion as passengers use stations operated by different operators.

The West Midlands Trains proposal is to close every ticket office but create 6 regional customer information centres which would offer additional customer support when buying tickets.  These would be at Birmingham Snow Hill, Worcester Foregate Street, Wolverhampton, Walsall, University and Sutton Coldfield.
All other stations would be staffed by new mobile teams who would be deployed on a flexible basis to undertake customer service, passenger assistance, safety and general upkeep duties.  Staff would not be based at one particular station but would be allocated to a group of stations.  WMT claim that they would use technology to determine times when a particular station needs more or less staff presence.  However, a question from SLUG regarding the hours at which stations would be staffed has received no reply to date.  In addition, a question about the level of staff cuts has also received no reply to date.
Tickets would be available from ATMs and from “local convenience stores” which means that the expertise that ticket office staff possess would be totally eradicated.  In addition, cash ATMs would not be available at all stations and the advice at the meeting was that passengers who need to use cash could purchase tickets from the senior conductor on the train.  Given that there is more chance of encountering the Loch Ness Monster on a Stourbridge Line train than the senior conductor, and there is a chance that a member of the Revenue Protection Team could catch you without a ticket on the train, this seems a futile suggestion.
At present, passengers know where to go if they want advice and that is the ticket office.  The proposal is that staff would be on the platform.  There is also no guarantee that these staff would be available throughout the day or if they would be provided with handheld ticket machines for the purchase of tickets via cash or the purchase of tickets that the ATMs do not support.  We were told at the meeting that we could go to Snow Hill for these tickets.  Who wants to make an unwanted journey to Snow Hill?
Many experienced public transport senior managers and campaign groups also strongly oppose the proposals.  One such person is Roger French who, as Managing Director of Brighton and Hove Buses for over 25 years, turned that company into the best operator in the country by giving the Brighton public the service that they wanted.  His blog on the subject of ticket offices closures may be read on the link below.
In addition, an on-line petition has been set up.  This needs 100,000 signatures to ensure that the proposals are debated in parliament.  SLUG is asking you to sign this petition at the link below.
SLUG emailed its response to Transport Focus on 18 July and it can be read by clicking on the link below.
However, our response will only count as a single reply, so we are asking everybody who reads this page to respond to the consultation by Friday 1 September 2023.  The more responses that Transport Focus receives opposing these proposals, the more chance that a rethink will take place.  Details are on the Transport Focus website at the link below.
Alternatively, you can respond directly from the link below or, if you prefer, in writing to Freepost, RTEH-XAGE-BYKZ, Transport Focus, PO Box 5594, Southend on Sea, SS1 9PZ
These proposals will affect a large number of people who are not computer literate or who still use cash as their primary payment method.  West Midlands Trains state that these changes will bring the rail industry into line with facilities offered at supermarkets.  It is true that supermarkets have increased the number of self-service checkouts, but they still ensure that customers can use cash and use a checkout till staffed by a real human being.  The West Midlands Trains proposals seem to forget that.  It is essential that passengers object in the strongest possible terms to these proposals which have been instigated by a Government who have no care for the inconvenience the changes will cause.
Latest News

31 May 2024

Major changes will be made to Stourbridge Line and Stourbridge Town timetables from 2 June.  Full details may be read in the News and Comment section, while the Timetables page has been updated with the new timetables, and each individual Stations page has been updated with the new departure boards.

12 November 2023

Recent photos of activity along the Metro route from Great Bridge to Dudley have been added to the Walsall Line section of the website.

5 October 2023

The Prime Minister has announced additional transport funding for the Midlands using funds previously allocated for HS2 phase 2.  Full details may be read in the News and Comment section.

2 September 2023

The Ticket Office Closures Consultation closed on Friday 1 September 2023.  However, the parliamentary petition remains open until 18 October.  For full details, please click on the link at the top of the home page.

18 July 2023

SLUG has responded to the Ticket Office Closures consultation.  Full details may be read in the Consultations section.

16 July 2023

SLUG strongly opposes the Government's proposals to close all ticket offices in England.  Full details may be read in the News and Comment section.
The Membership Secretary
Stourbridge Line User Group
46 Sandringham Road
West Midlands

Site Last Updated on
17 June 2024

(Walsall Line)
The Membership Secretary
Stourbridge Line User Group
46 Sandringham Road
West Midlands

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