Wales won’t follow England in closing station ticket offices, says first minister
Wales won’t follow England in closing station ticket offices, Members of the Senedd have been told.
Train operators last week confirmed the Conservative UK Government’s proposals to shut down almost all of the 1,007 remaining ticket offices in England within three years.
The proposed changes aim to modernise the sector, reflecting the ‘generational shift’ in ticket purchasing behaviours and improving passenger experiences across the network.
Currently, only 12% of tickets are sold at ticket offices, compared to 82% in the mid-90s.
However rail union RMT claimed the closures “will restrict passengers’ access to the best value tickets, worsen passenger service, accessibility, safety and security and lead to a de-staffing of stations”.
Speaking in the Senedd lClwyd South MS, Ken Skates, called for reassurance that similar measures will not be carried out in Wales.
Mr Skates said: “First Minister, we know that people with learning difficulties and other people who face disabling barriers in life hugely value the presence and assistance of staff at railway stations.
“Would you agree that it’ll be a source of reassurance to them to hear that Transport for Wales have no plans whatsoever to reduce the number of staff at stations that they manage here in Wales and, indeed, where they manage them in England?
“In stark contrast, the Department for Transport in England have announced the wholesale closure of ticket offices at stations managed by them.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford said the move was a “retaliatory measure in the ongoing industrial dispute that the UK Government fails to settle”.
The First Minister said: “Almost 900 ticket offices in England are affected by the announcement of the Department for Transport in what many people regard as simply a retaliatory measure in the ongoing industrial dispute that the UK Government fails to settle in the transport industry.
“Here in Wales, we proceed, as the Member knows, through social partnership, working closely with our trade union colleagues.
“We achieve far more by working together than forcing through changes as part of ongoing industrial disputes.
“I’m able to confirm exactly what Ken Skates said. Transport for Wales does not plan to make similar changes to ticket offices in Wales, or indeed to the ticket offices that they manage in England – in Chester, Hereford and Shrewsbury, for example.
“We know that, particularly for those people who may struggle to access services, then the presence of staff on the station able to respond directly to their requirements is a very important part of how they are able to access services.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com