Commuters’ anger over closed ticket offices

Southern Railway
Southern Railway

Ticket offices across the rail network are not always open during the advertised times.

That was the claim by a commuters’ group, backed by personal accounts from councillors at Thursday’s Adur and Worthing councils’ joint overview and scrutiny committee.

David Start, treasurer of Brighton Line Commuters, recounted times where he had visited West Worthing station to find the ticket office closed when it should not have been.

And he further claimed Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) bosses appeared satisfied with less than perfect adherence to opening times.

He said: “The ticket offices, particularly at my local station at West Worthing, are not open at the advertised hours. When I raised this issue with Southern they said providing the ticket office is open 95 per cent of the advertised times, it is totally acceptable.”

Lib Dem councillor for Tarring, Bob Smytherman, had similar experiences at Goring station. “Banks are open the hours they say they are going to be open,” he said.

“Post offices are open the hours they say they are going to be open but ticket offices clearly from our experiences are not open the hours they say they are going to be open.”

Strike action over potential closures of ticket offices across the area was suspended.

The RMT union and GTR reached an agreement after talks, with the changes to be piloted at eight stations. If the changes were implemented across the Southern network, the RMT estimated it would result in the loss of 77.5 full-time equivalent jobs.

Angie Doll, GTR passenger services director, admitted some job losses had been planned – but this was on hold because of the pilot.

She also conceded ticket machines at stations were ‘not the most user-friendly’.

Councillors joined Mr Start in raising concerns about the machines, noting they could not be used to buy certain tickets. The committee urged GTR to fully deliver services it advertised.

In reply, a GTR spokesman said: “It’s never acceptable for a ticket office to be closed when it is advertised as open. This happens only in exceptional circumstances, such as when a member of staff goes sick at the last minute and there is no-one appropriate to cover. We can only apologise if this has happened.”