Letter to Editor: Will we lose Harlow Railway Station ticket office?
News / Fri 7th Jul 2023 at 08:14am
THE train companies are consulting on plans to close station ticket offices.
I believe this will disproportionately affect older and disabled passengers.
I urge readers to take part in the consultation.
Below is the text from the Greater Anglia website about Harlow Town station. We lost the Harlow Mill ticket office some time ago.
The proposal is that all ticket office windows at this station would close, with our staff moving to other station areas, where they would be better placed to help customers buy tickets and provide expert travel advice and information.
Customers would still be able to buy tickets from the ticket machine and online (via our website and app), and colleagues would still be available at the station to help customers at certain times (as outlined below). Ticketing assistance would also be available directly from staff in Greater Anglia’s Customer Contact Centre in Norwich, contactable via the ticket machine (24 hours a day).
Customer Information Centres at London Liverpool Street, Stansted Airport, and Cambridge stations would sell a full range of products, as well as providing help with more complex transactions.
There would be a change to the hours that staff would be available, with their presence focused on the busiest times. The proposed changes to hours would be as follows:
Days Current Ticket Office Hours Proposed station staffing hours
Monday to Friday 06:00 – 21:00 05:00 – 19:45
Saturday 06:00 – 21:00 06:00 – 19:45
Sunday 08:05 – 21:00 06:00 – 20:00
Station opening times would not change and customers would also still have access to the same station facilities they do today.
We would continue to meet all our commitments on providing accessibility for passengers, including passengers with reduced mobility and people requiring in-person assistance. We also would create additional mobile assistance teams, offering greater flexibility and support in providing assistance.
If you would like to comment on these proposals contact London TravelWatch – the independent transport watchdog for London, by Wednesday 26 July 2023 using the details below:
Email: [email protected]
Freepost: RTEH-XAGE-BYKZ, London TravelWatch, PO Box 5594, Southend on Sea, SS1 9PZ
For more information about how to have your say visit www.londontravelwatch.org.uk
Is it a coincidence that stations where ticket offices have been closed and that have no staff, like Harlow Mill, suffer high rates of suicide victims? What price is that to pay for rail company profits? Ticket machines bamboozle many elderly and dyslexic people, the fare structure is so complicated (designed to be so to bolster profits) and having no one around to help disabled and passengers generally the railways offer a poor service. The railways should be a National essential service and nationalised, other countries find they save costs to the public purse by charging low fares paid for by the roads they don't have to build. Whilst the government is backing away from combating Climate change, has no coherent integrated transport plans and continues to support the fossil fuel companies rather than going to a hydrogen economy the average rail passenger is getting rinsed.
Automation is inevitable unfortunately. We see it across all sectors where human beings are getting replaced by machines and artificial intelligence. Human salaries are usually the biggest expense in most industries. I wonder where it will end when we have a growing population. Machines doing all the work.
Another farcical consultation with endless hurdles to be negotiated online before finding the necessary form only to discover that Transport Focus does not recognise the existence of Harlow Town station!
Automation isn't possible on the trains but they are making sure you never have staff at any of the stations. If you are female, disabled or vulnerable you are no longer safe on the railway. Fares rise year on year and so do the payments to the bosses that run these operators. Tories out!!!!
Let’s move with the times..change is inevitable: Tickets are the most expensive way to travel, contactless bank card, Apple Pay & Oyster card is much cheaper..the tech is already in place just tap as you go couldn’t be simpler.
@Seamus these are independent rail companies. Labour wouldn't interfere in their business. It would be no difference.
It's not about the tech bruce. That has already been in place for years.
Phil - yes all the train operating companies got together and decided to close all their tickets offices and it had nothing to do with the DfT.
Now you know why people are on strike, you can't see the wood for the trees, it's been happening for years cutting back so we are not needed, it's never about service, it's about how cheap they can run it and take as much profit as possible from the fools like us that have no choice
@Seamus - every company is doing it right across all industries. From supermarkets to IT data centres - they are all reducing dependency on human labour in order to save money. Politics has nothing to do with it. As I say, not sure where it will end.
If the ticket office closes. Will the ticket machine be updated? At the moment there are tickets i buy over the counter as they are not available on the ticket machine.
There is something wrong with a system where it’s cheaper to buy two tickets for a total trip than a single one. The ticketing system is a farce. It needs simplifying. Rail companies shouldn’t be conning people into buying a more expensive ticket rather than offering the best deal. I’ve had to use the control centre in Norwich via the ticket machine at Harlow Mill. They take ages to respond and the connection so poor they are nearly incomprehensible with the signal fading in and out, the wind, trains going through and poor hearing.
It’s never too late to learn.. the older generation are sometimes stuck in their ways..have to put the effort in and get tech-savvy. Smartphone, travel, etc..
The government sold off the railway, to reduce taxes. Short term, now the share holder's want profits. Same for post office,water and poo company's.
A station half a mile from help at night, in a poorly lit area, ideal for the vulnerable! And, you can guarantee, staffing cuts from platforms and foyers will soon leave them empty. How long till stations become bus shelters on the platforms with just ticket machines and an automatic barrier at the foot of the stairs, as at Seven Sisters mainline.
Shame the human element of assistance is slowly being wound down in the name of cost cutting but it does seem a continuing trend towards doing everything yourself so companies can pay less wages as staff numbers are reduced to a shoestring level a shame but I suppose we will just have to adapt what choice is left?
Seems a strange statement to say staff would move from ticket office to other areas to help customers buy tickets.!! Let’s leave it with a bit of face to face interaction.
Totally against doing away with booking office staff. They provide Customer Service, they are there to help and answer questions. If the Railway Companies want to make cuts and save money, perhaps the Managers should be automated! Let's be honest, they say the staff will be utilised elsewhere, so why close the booking offices?
I have tried using the ga app to buy an ordinary return without success twice how am I to buy an ordinary return to the iow to include the car ferry to include my network card
Is this all a part of the scheme to make the world a 'cashless society'? I for one will still use cash where possible as will my elderly mother who would be totally bamboozled by a machine or 'tapping in & out' on journeys. Some people dont have credit or debit cards or access to a smart phone or pc! I always double check with the ticket office staff on the route I am taking. Their reassurance & advice is invaluable to me. Does a ticket machine take into consideration someone who has a disabled rail card? If staff will be redeployed to other areas of the station- why not keep them in the ticket office? Shameful, utterly shameful!!
No thought s to the people with disabilities... no thought s to the elderly... and no thoughts if there was an accident... theses councils want you to leave the car at home,, no you will have the reverse effect... Theses places will be cold and unwellcoming..... This is profit before the people...pure and simple...
I believe it's simply down to technology. I saw a figure that said in the early 90's, 92% of tickets were bought at the ticket office, now in 2023, it's down to 12% with some offices selling only 17 in a month due to people buying their tickets online and through their phone apps. It's inevitable that jobs will be lost as technology takes over. Look at Royal Mail, thousands of delivery staff lost due to text, emails, what's app and other social media. You can't have the benefit of technology one minute and then decry it the next, (although some give it a good go).
I very rarely travel by train but had to last week and spoke to a very helpful member of staff in the ticket office who provided me with information and advice about my travel. This cannot be done by a ticket machine. The rail companies are providing a public service, all the cut backs in such services have not translated in to lower prices.