Train operators in Southwark plan to close every ticket offices in all stations apart from London Bridge, with multifunctional staff redeployed onto station platforms and concourses.
The Liberal Democrat Group has formally responded to the consultations put out by the two companies operating the train stations in Southwark, urging them to rethink plans to close ticket offices.
Ten out of the eleven national rail stations in Southwark are due to close their ticket offices. London Bridge is the only station set to retain its ticket office, and will be designated a ‘travel centre’.
The Liberal Democrats have joined disability campaigners in highlighting the massive loss of accessibility that these closures will represent. Deaf and visually impaired people, as well as those with additional accessibility needs or the digitally excluded, will find it much more difficult to purchase tickets or access information and support.
Ticket offices are usually the only places with hearing loops, and mean that those with limited mobility or energy have a consistent place to go. Roving staff will not be as obvious or accessible, especially when stations get busy.
In a victory for campaigners, the deadline for consultation was extended at the last minute as the watchdog revealed that the consultation process did not meet accessibility standards.
Everyone now has the opportunity to submit their views on ticket office closures, either as a whole or on specific stations that they may use. The deadline for submissions is September 1st.
Deputy Leader Cllr Rachel Bentley said, “Every day as a councillor I talk to residents who lament the loss of face to face services. I know that many residents, especially those with accessibility needs, are deeply worried about the threat to close ticket offices. They find ticket offices an easily accessible place to have face to face interactions with staff. I’m deeply concerned about how this will impact those with accessibility needs, without access to the internet, or who don’t speak English as their first language.
To justify these changes on the grounds of low ticket sales through ticket offices is totally missing the point that those who do use these facilities rely on them. The changes should be completely rethought.
I strongly encourage people to submit their views to the consultation, so that the rail companies know exactly what impact these proposals will have.”