Devon’s Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord has today criticised proposals from the Rail Delivery Group that would see many ticket offices closed in one of the biggest changes to the railway network in a generation.
The proposals would see 153 of South Western Railway’s 190 stations changed, so that staff move out of ticket offices and onto platforms. Similar proposals have also been put forward by GWR, which services Tiverton Parkway.
The changes, including the creation of a single team of colleagues at each station and the closure of all ticket offices, are being put to a three-week public consultation.
However, local Tiverton & Honiton MP Richard Foord has warned these changes could leave people feeling cut off and further isolated – particularly for those who are elderly, who struggle to access digital ticket services or who do not feel able to use ticket machines at stations.
Commenting, Richard Foord MP said:
“Local ticket offices like those in Honiton, Feniton, and Axminster are key for many people to get tickets and to get help with their journey. Ticket offices play a crucial role in helping people travel – particularly older and more vulnerable customers.
“These proposed changes are deeply concerning, particularly for rural communities like ours. Some railway stations are already poorly served; Feniton station, for example, is only staffed in the morning.
“This very short ‘consultation’ seems more like a foreclosure notice - one which will leave our communities poorer. We must avoid the same digital exclusion on our railways that we are already seeing wrought by banks and big businesses.
“This is unacceptable. I will be making the case directly with South Western Railway about why these changes could make rail travel more difficult for some of those people who already lack confidence in travelling by train.
“I am grateful to constituents who have written to me to make their feelings known. They can be reassured - I will continue demand that SWR maintains the availability of ticket sales at local stations.”