Ticket office at Leighton Buzzard train station under threat

MP’s reminder that consultation on ticket offices closes on July 26
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

People are being urged to have their say on plans to close the ticket office at Leighton Buzzard railway station.

London Northwestern Railway has published proposals to change the way train tickets are sold at stations, closing ticket offices and bringing staff out of the offices to help passengers.

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.

But Andrew Selous, MP for South West Beds, says a consultation on the plans closes on July 26 and urged people to have their say.

He said: “I met with London Northwestern Railway on Monday and I do have concerns about their ticket office proposals, which is why I put out a news release the same day, alerting people to the fact that the consultation on ticket offices closes on July 26, so it is very important that people who feel strongly about this issue respond.

"I will study the responses carefully and will take up these issues up with London Northwestern. I am also happy to receive direct representations from train travellers as well."

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.”

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.

“LNR recognise the need to safeguard the interests of passengers and other operators; and continue to promote of the use of the national rail network,” the spokesman added.

“We remain committed to supporting our disabled customers and those requiring assistance to access our services.”

Find out more and have your say here