PEOPLE angry at plans to close train station ticket offices have been given an extra five-and-a-half weeks to voice their opinion.
The Correspondent has told how Tameside-based union officials were joined by leader of the council, Cllr Ged Cooney, at Stalybridge as passengers eagerly snapped up leaflets clarifying the proposal by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).
It also told how Hattersley station has been earmarked for closure, five months after it opened following a redevelopment scheme costing about £570,000.
Now after petitions against the closures were signed by thousands of people, many of whom face being cut off or unable to travel if they go ahead, extra time has been given to make opposition formal.
Passengers now have until September 1 to complete the consultation, which they can do online on their local train company website or by visiting www.transportfocus.org.uk.
In a statement, the RDG claimed: “In increasing the time available, train operators are listening to feedback and hope that more people will have the opportunity to have their say in to changes to how tickets are sold at stations.
“Although local plans vary, overall the proposals aim to bring staff out from behind ticket office windows to provide more support for customers buying tickets and navigating stations, as they move in to new, multi-skilled ‘customer host’ roles.
“Through these more engaging careers, staff would be better able to support all customers to buy tickets, plan their journeys and navigate stations.
“The rules for how tickets were sold at stations were set in the mid-90s. Back then, 82 per cent of all tickets were sold at ticket offices, compared to just 12 per cent today – a generational shift the railway must respond to at a time when revenue remains 30 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.
“Alongside the passenger consultation on ticket offices, a range of options will be created for staff affected, including moving at a new skilled role and comprehensive re-training and re-skilling.
“Train companies will continue to engage constructively with unions at a local level to manage the transition in a way that works best for staff.”
And chief executive Jacqueline Starr added: “Train companies have listened to feedback and are extending the time available to respond to the consultation on changes to how tickets are sold at stations to September 1.
“Operators are keen to give more people a chance to give their views on the proposals, so they can bring the railway up to date with dramatic shifts in customer buying habits, while supporting all its customers as the railway evolves and adapts.
“We have committed that no customer will have to go out of their way to buy a ticket. We encourage those who want to view the plans or take part to go to their local train company website or visit Transport Focus or London Travel Watch during the consultation period.”
Customers who wish to view the plans should to go their local train company’s website – either Northern or TransPennine Express – or visit https://www.transportfocus.org.uk/train-station-ticket-office-consultation by September 1.