CONTROVERSIAL plans to close rail station ticket offices include a Tameside stop that only opened five months ago after a £500,000 refit.
And the Rail Delivery Group’s proposal to include Hattersley has left those representing the area scratching their heads in disbelief.
On February 16, the ribbon was cut on a new £570,000 facility, including a new and improved waiting area, which has workspaces and seating.
A new fully accessible toilet was also installed featuring baby changing, grab rails and an audio description for customers with visual impairments.
Now it is likely to be closed if the scheme gets the go ahead, much to the fury of Tameside Council’s first deputy, Cllr Jacqueline North, in whose ward Hattersley Station stands.
She also highlighted just how counter-productive replacing the in-person office with a vending machine and online purchases will be.
She said: “We only opened it a few months ago!
“They spent all during Covid-19 building it and now it seems like on some sort of whim overnight, they’ve decided to close it.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous. I can’t imagine anyone running a business in quite that fashion.
“There’s a disabled toilet there – the key is with whoever is in the ticket office. Unless you’ve got your Radar key, you won’t be able to use it.
“There’s the safety and security element too. We can’t forget that.
“I’m a woman, I use the station at night. It’s not a pleasant place if you feel there’s no-one there but you.
“It’s a bit like having guards on trains too.
“It leaves the station open to anti-social behaviour as well. It’s a shock to everybody, why would you do this?”
Cllr North joined RMT union members in a protest at Stalybridge station, alongside council leader, Cllr Ged Cooney.
He said: “It’s unbelievable. A new station, a new ticket office. They put it all in place and it beggars belief.”
The Government plans, announced on Wednesday, July 5, have sparked a huge response from people who use the train network.
And the Transport for the North body said: “We understand that the way people buy tickets is changing and that there needs to be reform.
“However, this should be done in a holistic way, considering the needs of all station users and local communities.
“We are concerned that the focus on ticket office staffing in isolation of wider investment (for example pay as you go ticketing) could lead to disadvantaging certain passengers and communities.
“We will be working with our partners on a robust response to the consultation using local evidence and knowledge.
“Patronage growth on the railways in the north is strong, albeit people are choosing to travel at different times for different purposes.
“Done correctly, we can ensure that reform supports growth and the needs of all passengers.
“But it must not be to the disadvantage of any station users, especially in regards to accessibility and safety.”