Shabana has written to the Transport Secretary following the news that ticket offices at Birmingham New Street and Birmingham Moor Street stations are set to close.
Earlier this month, the Rail Delivery Group confirmed plans to move staff out of ticket offices and into stations, with a consultation of only 21 days.
In her letter, Shabana outlines the importance of ticket offices and calls for the government to answer several important questions about the closures.
You can read the letter in full below.
Letter to the Transport Secretary
Dear Secretary of State,
Re: Closure of Rail Ticket Offices in England
I am writing to express my concern over plans to close rail ticket offices in my constituency.
On the 5th July, the Rail Delivery Group confirmed plans to move staff out of ticket offices and into stations, with the consultation on these significant changes to last just 21 days.
Both Birmingham New Street, the heart of Britain’s rail network, and Birmingham Moor Street are among the proposed closures.
That news will be deeply worrying to my elderly and disabled constituents, the hundreds of thousands of people employed in our rail industry, the staff employed in my own constituency, and all those who rely on the support and advice provided by staff in ticket offices.
As you are aware, one in nine tickets are still sold at physical ticket office. That represents over 150 million of the 1.4 billion rail journeys recorded over the past year.
Given the fact that many of those passengers relying on ticket offices will be elderly and disabled rail users that may otherwise struggle to use digital alternatives, it is vital that you offer assurances that those rail users will still have access to the support they need to use our rail network with confidence.
Research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), for instance, has found that only 3% of people with sight loss said they could use a ticket vending machine without problems and 58% said it was impossible.
Given those serious concerns for my constituents, I would appreciate answers to the following questions:
- What will happen to the rail staff currently deployed in rail ticket offices in my constituency?
- What will the impact be on their job security?
- What the impact of ticket office closures will be on the safety and accessibility of the rail network for disabled and elderly passengers?
- When will digital and pay as you go ticketing technology be available across the whole of the rail network?
Passengers in my constituency are already suffering due to the chaos on our railways. They should not have to face any further disruptions to their travel plans due to your poor management of our rail networks.
Under this Government, private operators have been allowed to profit whilst cancellations have reached record highs, basic services like Wi-Fi are at risk of being taken away, plans to bring forward legislation to reform services have been scrapped and now ticket offices are facing closures without thought for the vulnerable users that rely on them.
Our rail network is already failing passengers in my constituency and is in desperate need of reform. But the people of this country have lost confidence in your Government to deliver a rail network that works for passengers.
I look forward to your response.
Shabana Mahmood MP