Consultation over plans to close Leighton Buzzard railway station's ticket office extended

It was due to finish today (Wednesday)
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The consultation over the planned closure of rail ticket offices – including Leighton Buzzard – has been extended.

Originally, you had until today (Wednesday) to let London Northwestern Railway know how you feel about the plans – but the consultation has been given another five weeks.

The company says the proposals represent the biggest change to customer retailing since the 1990s, when 82% of all tickets were sold at ticket offices, compared to just 12% today.

Andrew Selous, MP for South West Beds, at Leighton Buzzard train station, which could lose its ticket officeAndrew Selous, MP for South West Beds, at Leighton Buzzard train station, which could lose its ticket office
Andrew Selous, MP for South West Beds, at Leighton Buzzard train station, which could lose its ticket office

A spokesman for London Northwestern Railway explained: “In response to these changing customer habits, alongside other train operators, we are proposing to bring employees out from behind ticket office windows to be closer to customers, providing an enhanced customer service role and greater visibility of staff on concourses and platforms.

“Under these plans ticket offices in their current form would close over the next three years, but we would retain customer information centres across the network to facilitate the evolution of retail and the multi-skilling of staff to be available where customers most need them – on platforms and concourses to help with journey planning, finding the right ticket and supporting passengers with accessibility needs.”

One concerned passenger contacted the LBO to raise concerns about the proposals.

He said: “The booking office at our local mainline railway station is not just a convenient way to get the cheapest available ticket(s) for a rail journey. It's an information centre, a place to pay with cash, a lost property handling office, a customer assistance point for passengers who need assistance in boarding/alighting trains, and it's a human point of contact for some of the more lonely or vulnerable people in our community.”

Meanwhile, MP Andrew Selous met with London Northwestern, and said he had “concerns” about the plans.

London Northwestern have said mobile teams would move between stations and be deployed to offer extra help where needed. Ticket vending machines will be upgraded to make sure customers can still buy the most popular tickets at stations and many staff will have hand-held devices. New customer ‘help’ points would also be introduced at stations as part of the proposals.

The consultation period will now end on September 1.