Govia ticket offices consultation

I am extremely concerned about Govia’s proposals to shut or reduce the opening hours of around 80 ticket offices at stations across the south east. This includes closing the Caterham ticket office completely, and those at Oxted, Horley and East Grinstead remaining open only between 7 and 10am on weekdays. They will be replaced with roaming ‘station hosts’ who will work extended hours on station concourses to sell tickets and assist customers with purchases from ticket machines.

The consultation is open until 13 March. Details of how to respond are below, and I would be keen to hear your opinions (sam@samgyimah.com) to help inform the submission I will be making. My concerns are as follows:

– I receive complaints daily (no doubt a fraction of the ones Southern receive) about cancellations, delayed trains, driver shortages and generally appalling service. Customers should be hearing about the urgent action being taken to address these issues, not proposals to reduce station services. It is very difficult to take seriously assurances that this change will benefit passengers when they are already being let down in almost every other area.

– Buying the correct ticket at the best price is already difficult enough. Certain tickets cannot be bought at ticket machines; more complex purchases, such as buying a travelcard and ticket for travel outside London zones can be quickly dealt with by a ticket office, but require multiple transactions at a ticket machine. The result will be longer queues and more confusion.

– For some elderly customers, and those with disabilities, ticket machines may not be an option at all. They are much better served by a ticket office they can find in a fixed place than a roaming host.

– Whilst the extended hours these station hosts will operate sounds encouraging, there is no guarantee that this will remain the case once ticket offices are closed. It will be much harder for the public to hold Southern to account over a host that is nowhere to be found than over a closed office.

– I understand that ticket machines do not take delay repay vouchers. Closing ticket offices will put yet another barrier in the way of passengers claiming the compensation they are entitled to.

– There is already a real inconsistency around ticketing at stations – for instance, I am aware of customers who have regularly been sold tickets on the train by the conductor, only to find that on another occasion they are fined by an inspector. I am concerned that these changes will further reduce clarity.

Full details of the changes can be found here:http://www.londontravelwatch.org.uk/news/view….

To comment on these proposals, please write to London TravelWatch, 169 Union Street, London, SE1 0LL or email enquiries@londontravelwatch.org.uk, with ‘GTR ticket office changes’ in the subject line by 11:59pm on Sunday 13 March 2016.