This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 26/09/2018.
51 London Overground ticket offices threatened with closure by TfL and Arriva Rail London
Several ticket offices on the line between West Croydon and Highbury and Islington are under threat.
The plans were first suggested in September 2017 by TfL and Arriva Rail London, which operates the line.
TfL says the way its customers pay for travel has changed in recent years, and that it plans to make its staff more visible at the stations. However the RMT union has announced it is launching a campaign to save ticket offices across the network.
Stations highlighted as under threat in south London include Anerley, Honor Oak Park, Penge West and Surrey Quays.
RMT will be holding a “day of action” on Wednesday, October 3 against the closures and say it “make it harder to provide a safe and secure environment”.
The union also argues passengers may be unable to find the tickets they want on a ticket machine, struggle to get advice on tickets and fares and could be frustrated by a limited number of machines, as well as a possible increase in concourse congestion and delays.
The changes could also disproportionately affect the disabled, elderly and vulnerable, the union argues, saying they “may be less confident using a ticket machine and may end up overspending or being deterred from travelling”.
Arriva Rail London says its proposals will make more staff visible and available at the stations to provide assistance where needed. The 51 stations earmarked were chosen as they all sold less than 12 tickets per hour from ticket booths.
They also argue that safety will not be impacted, saying all stations will continue to be staffed from 15 minutes before the first service to 15 minutes after the last service.
The company has entered a consultation with rail industry bodies as well as London Travel Watch, who are welcoming views from the public on the proposed closures.
The deadline to respond to their online survey is October 11.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “I am calling on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to oppose this retrograde plan for wholesale closures in the strongest possible terms. Ticket offices play a crucial role at train stations.
“London needs to welcome its passengers, visitors and tourists not with a machine, but a welcoming and friendly ticket office who can provide a full range of services.
”This is just the latest attack on a properly staffed, safe, secure and accessible railway for all and RMT is determined to halt these plans in their tracks.”
Jon Fox, TfL’s director of rail and sponsored services said: “The way customers pay for travel has changed rapidly as they embrace new technology, creating an opportunity to improve the way stations are managed and how staff serve customers.
“Arriva Rail London have been engaging with their staff and trade unions and are now consulting with rail industry bodies and London TravelWatch about ticket offices on stations where there are fewer than 12 ticket sales per hour.
“We encourage customers to share their views through London TravelWatch.
“These proposals will not compromise safety and all stations will remain staffed at all times.”