Lancashire train travellers share joy as ticket offices to remain open
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Last week's move by the government - which saw train operating companies ordered not to implement the proposed shutdown - followed a public consultation in which both travellers and the passenger watchdog set out a series of objections.
Passengers shared their delight at the news, with one rail user, Anne Hayton, saying: “Common sense prevails!”
The watchdog, Transport Focus, had said that “key issues that are critical to maintaining accessibility for all to the national network... remain unresolved”.
The organisation added that there was still a need for staffed retail points, particularly at larger stations like Preston. That is in site of data from the rail industry that suggests only 1 in 10 passengers use ticket offices.
Train users have also said that ticket offices remaining open would help more vulnerable people using the railway.
Passenger Neil Jamieson said: “Finally a thought for the elderly, the sight affected, disabled and people who don’t have or know how to use smart phones.”
Another, Anita Lutan, shared a similar sentiment, saying: “Us oldies would much rather talk to a human being, not a bloomin’ machine.”
More than a dozen closures had been planned across Lancashire with staff at most affected stations planned to have been redeployed from behind glass screens.
Fixed staff at Northern-operated stations: Adlington, Burnley Central, Morecambe and Parbold would have been removed had the plans gone ahead.
Proposed closures at Poulton and Chorley prompted petitions, which had 527 and 728 signatures, retrospectively.
Some train travellers spoke of their own signage of the petitions, commenting: “Success. I signed the petition for it to be reconsidered, sometimes it works.”
Stations such as Blackpool North and Blackburn were instead set to retain their ticket offices, with increased hours of operation.
The change raised the prospect that Cottam Parkway’s new station that’s set to be built in the Preston suburbs by the end of the decade might have the ticket office as initially intended.
Other passengers spoke of the ‘helpful’ ticket office staff and expressed their happiness at the offices remaining open.
Whilst many commented on the positives in keeping the ticket offices open, others expressed concern that it was not the end of the line for the plans.
Steve Lambert said: “This is an excellent idea, but I fear it’s only temporary until the ticketing system is sorted out.