Following discussions with residents, I’ve written to South Western Railway about their proposal to close Feltham Station’s ticket office.
After sending my response in, South Western Railway have extended their consultation until September 1st – giving you even more time to make your voice heard.
I’ll be presenting a petition to Parliament in the autumn which you can sign here as well as emailing your concerns, as ever, to me at email@example.com.
Dear London TravelWatch and South Western Railway
Re: Proposed Closure of Rail Ticket Offices in England – Consultation response
I am writing to you as my local Train Operating Company, with regards to the proposed closure of almost 1,000 rail ticket offices in England, including ticket offices in my own constituency, which will affect over 150 million passenger journeys a year.
Now that the plans to close the vast majority of rail ticket offices in England have been officially announced, and consultations have begun, I want to express my deep concerns on this matter.
- The length of the Consultation Period.
I was shocked to see that the length of the consultations on such a consequential change to our rail networks has been limited to only 21 days.
Given the public concern around this issue in my constituency, the fact that passengers and staff will have only three weeks to put forward their views is simply not good enough. We are not prepared to see a rubber stamp consultation for decisions that have already been made.
- The Impact on Accessibility
My disabled and elderly constituents already face numerous barriers to use of our rail network and that appears set to worsen under these proposals. 23% of disabled adults and 6% of non-disabled adults are unable to use the internet. Wheelchair user discounts can only be purchased at ticket offices], and only 3% of blind people are able to use ticket vending machine without problems.
What guarantees will you offer elderly and disabled rail users in my constituency that they will not be disadvantaged by these proposals? When will you be conducting an Equality Impact Assessment for the proposed Feltham ticket office closure and will that be made public?
- Impact on Job Security
I am also deeply concerned about the job security of staff at stations in Hounslow, with Feltham, Hounslow, Brentford and Chiswick stations affected. Recently, speaking in the House of Commons, your Rail Minister said the following in response to an Urgent Question on rail ticket office closures from the Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Transport:
“She does talk about job losses though, Mr Speaker. And in the event that there are some that don’t wish to make that transition, then of course the train operators will need to look to that.”
Do these comments not confirm that these proposals are merely a prelude to job losses in rail stations? And, if not, what guarantees can you provide to rail workers locally that their future job security will be protected following these consultations?
- Slow Rollout of Digital Ticketing Technology
Lastly, I am concerned that you are simply not doing enough to ensure that easy-to-use digital alternatives are even available in time for the closure of these offices.
How will passengers across your rail network be able to smoothly transition away from physical ticket offices when 83% of stations in England do not have contactless ticketing technology enabled?
Can you therefore confirm what you will be doing to accelerate the shift towards accessible, easy-to-use digital technologies across the local rail network?
It is clear that there are far too many outstanding questions as to how these proposals can be implemented without serious consequences for accessibility of our rail network and job security of staff. I am therefore asking if you will use your position to urge Ministers to halt this sham consultation, and come clean on the damage these closures will do.
I would be grateful for your early response.
Seema Malhotra MP
Member of Parliament for Feltham and Heston