Bexhill ticket office could be reduced to peak times

Bexhill Railway Station
Bexhill Railway Station

Bexhill railway station ticket office may only be open at peak times under plans revealed this week.

In off-peak periods, it could be replaced by ‘station hosts’ – staff helping passengers buy tickets at the machines.

More than 80 stations could be involved in the shake-up, which rail union RMT described as ‘ticket office carnage’.

It is to launch an immediate campaign to defend jobs and services as it emerged that 81 stations may lose their ticket offices in a formal public consultation across routes served by Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “These plans, driven by the desire to de-staff our railways in the quest for profit, would unleash a wave of ticket office carnage across rail franchises that are already seen as the basket-cases of Britain’s privatised railway network.

“It is clear that Govia couldn’t give two hoots about passenger services, jobs and safety and are prepared to milk these routes for every single penny that they can extract regardless of what the travelling public think of them.

“It is a disgrace and Govia should be slung out and these essential rail services taken into public ownership before these latest profit-driven cuts are allowed to rip through these 81 stations from north to south.

“It is no coincidence that this threat comes as Southern are already gearing up to axe guards from their services in yet another lethal gamble with safety-critical jobs on some of Britain’s most dangerously overcrowded trains and platforms.

“RMT is launching a campaign of opposition to these plans and we will be working with the travelling public to stop them in their tracks.”

Although the plans, driven by the part-French state owned Govia outfit, are legally required to be submitted for formal consultation, the union fears the proposals may be implemented by June this year.

There are three categories of stations. The first wave, which includes a number of London suburban stations, is to close immediately, the RMT said.

A second wave will close shortly after passengers have been “re-educated” sufficiently into using ticket machines.

A third wave, which will close outside peak hours when a longer period of “re-education” has been undertaken, with the threat of eventual total closure, includes Bexhill, Eastbourne, Polegate and Lewes.

A spokesperson for Govia Thameslink Railway said: “We want to modernise the way we operate approximately 80 of our busier stations across Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink for the benefit of passengers, many of whom now buy their tickets online, or use Oyster, contactless and smartcards.

“Where sales from ticket offices are low, we want to bring staff out from behind the windows and on to the concourse to work where they’re needed most, as Station Hosts, providing assistance and helping sell tickets from ticket machines and their own handheld devices.

“All the affected stations will be staffed for longer as a result – at all but two they would be staffed from the very first train of the day to the very last, seven days a week.

“This will drive other customer benefits – we’ll also be able to increase the opening hours of facilities passengers have told us are important, such as waiting rooms, toilets and lifts.”

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