Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
The train operating companies, both individually such as EMR, and collectively through the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), launched a consultation on a proposal to close most station ticket offices throughout the country. They state that only 12% of ticket sales are now made at ticket offices; EMR say that only 5% of their tickets are sold this way. The majority of tickets are now sold online or via mobile phone apps, or at self-service ticket machines. The instigator of this proposal is the Government, which wants to reduce costs and ‘modernise customer service’. The stated aim is not to de-staff the stations; rather, it is to bring ticket office staff out from behind the glass and into more wide-ranging ‘customer help’ roles around the station. There is a parallel here with the changes recently seen in the banks and supermarkets. More on the RDG’s position can be found here: https://media.raildeliverygroup.com/news/proposals-to-update-the-railway-for-how-passengers-use-it-today
However, the proposals are proving controversial.
We in Harborough Rail Users accept modernisation on the railways just as much as anywhere else. For Market Harborough, the proposal is to close the ticket office and to reduce staffing hours at the beginning and end of the operating day. Staff will still be available to assist passengers, but we also wonder about the implications for them if the ticket office is closed. Will they be expected to be on their feet all day in the booking hall as well as their duties on the platforms? In any case, our station team are already multi-skilled, undertaking various customer-facing duties around the station.
We therefore have serious concerns about the implications of what is proposed, both for station users and the staff. Among these are:
Window of opportunity: the ticket office staff provides much advice and assistance to passengers as well as simple selling tickets, plus other services such as longer-term season tickets and the accompanying photocards; refunds, and cycle-hub fob keys; none of which are available through the ticket machines. Will the full range of services still be available at the station if the ticket office closes?
Photo: Steve Jones
Have your say. Please respond to the consultation,
DEADLINE EXTENDED TO FRIDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER:
You can also write to your MP.
Contact email addresses for our local MPs are:
The two self-service ticket machines in the booking hall at Market Harborough. These are quite versatile, selling a wide range of tickets. The one on the right accepts cash as well as card payments. There are two more, card-only, machines in the car park kiosk. They all sell most tickets, but not everything that is available through the ticket office. They can also be temperamental; for example, they have been known not to accept railcards, or issue pre-purchased tickets.
Photo: Steve Jones
We are not opposed to modernisation, but it must be done in a way that does not disadvantage anyone. The railway is a public service that must be accessible and available to all.