Leader's joy at Government rail ticket office u-turn - The Evesham Observer

Leader's joy at Government rail ticket office u-turn

Evesham Editorial 4th Nov, 2023   0

CONTROVERSIAL plans to close rail ticket offices across Evesham and Pershore have been scrapped in a u-turn by the Government.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the government had asked train operators to withdraw their proposals because they ‘failed to meet high passenger standards’.

Stations across Evesham and Pershore were among hundreds across England ear-marked for closure, despite opposition from unions and disability groups.

Some 1,000 rail ticket offices would be closed under the scheme including eight on the Cotswold Line, which serves Evesham, Moreton-in-Marsh and Worcester.

Under the plans ticket offices at the GWR stations of Evesham, Moreton-in-Marsh ,Kingham and Charlbury together with all three ticket office windows at Worcestershire Parkway – only opened in 2020 – were due to be axed as early as June 2024.

In a move to save money under pressure from the government, rail operators argued only 12 per cent of tickets are now bought at station kiosks.

But the proposals drew criticism from across the political parties and from all six district councils in Worcestershire who voiced their opposition to the plans.

Wychavon council chiefs were among those who expressed concerns about the impact of the changes on users of rail services in the county, including tourists and the personal safety of all travellers.

Coun Christopher Day, leader of Wychavon District Council, said: “The right decision has been made here, for our businesses, residents and tourists, and I am delighted with the result.

“In an age where we are encouraging people to make use of public transport, it needs to be as easy as possible to travel. The public has been heard, and I am delighted Wychavon was part of the process.”

Announcing the decision to scrap the closures, Mr Harper said the government had made it ‘clear to the rail industry throughout the process that any resulting proposals must meet a high threshold of serving passengers’.

The RMT rail union welcomed the government’s ‘complete withdrawal’ of its ticket office closure plans in light of passenger watchdog objections as a complete victory.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch hailed the news as ‘a resounding victory’ for the union’s campaign and a ‘win for passengers, community groups and rail workers alike’.

“We are now calling for an urgent summit with the government, train operating companies, disabled and community organisations and passenger groups to agree a different route for the rail network,” he said.


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