Like many local people, I’ve been really concerned by the proposed plans to close the railway ticket offices at Reddish North and Heaton Chapel Stations, as part of a national drive to shut almost all of the remaining 1,007 staffed ticket offices.
I know from my own personal experience that being able to chat with someone behind a ticket desk is really important. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had a train cancelled and dashed over to the ticket office for advice or to purchase tickets for alternate routes.
Local councillors and I have heard similar stories from the people we represent. It almost goes without saying that, if implemented, these closures would disproportionately impact the travel arrangements of disabled and elderly passengers.
To be clear, this isn’t just about the purchasing of tickets. I know that lots of disabled passengers regularly speak to ticket office staff in advance of travel to check things like access provision, and whether a journey is suitable for them to make. I’m really concerned that by removing this point of assistance, we’ll be making our railways far less accessible.
I’m also worried about value for money. Ticket machines are useful, but they often don’t advertise the cheapest options. It’s often the case that, by talking to an expert behind a ticket desk, you are made aware of things like split fares and alternative travel routes that end up costing less than the most obvious ticket purchase.
So, alongside local representatives, I’ll be doing everything I can to urge the Rail Delivery Group and Government to reverse this decision, so that passengers at Reddish North and Heaton Chapel Stations can continue to benefit from fully staffed ticket offices for years to come.