Burnley Conservative MP Antony Higginbotham backs proposals to close manned ticket offices at rail stations
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On July 5th, the Rail Delivery Group confirmed plans to move staff out of ticket offices and into stations, with the consultation on these changes to last just 21 days.
However, Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham has said that “times have changed” and that most people now book tickets online and that railways needed “modernising”.
The Tory MP said: “We all know that the railways need modernising. Having people behind glass screens was needed one day, but times have changed.
“Most passengers now book tickets themselves via an app or ticket machine. We can try and say otherwise, but we all know that’s the case.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t need staff at the station. We do. I want to see rail station staff out from behind the screens, engaging with passengers on platforms, in waiting rooms, and helping them book tickets and get on with their journey that way. That’s what I see in these proposals.
“It’s this modernisation journey that has seen millions of pounds of Government funding go into Manchester Road station, that will see a new disability friendly bridge constructed over the platform thanks to our Levelling Up Fund success, and that will hopefully see increased frequency of services.
“Labour will of course defend outdated and expensive ways of doing things, because they’re in-hock their union masters and don’t want to see our services modernised. But my focus is on having affordable ticket prices and an upgraded rail service for the travelling public of Burnley and Padiham.”
His Labour opponent in Burnley at the next general elections, Labour candidate Oliver Ryan, had earlier said he was opposed to the closure plans.
Writing to Transport Secretary Mark Harper, Mr Ryan said: “This news will be deeply worrying to my elderly and disabled constituents, the hundreds of thousands of people employed in our rail industry, the staff employed in my own constituency, and all those who rely on the support and advice provided by staff in ticket.
“Passengers in Burnley are already suffering due to the chaos on our railways. They should not have to face any further disruptions to their travel plans due to your poor management of our rail networks.
“Our rail network is already failing passengers in Burnley and is in desperate need of reform. But the people of this country have lost confidence in your Government to deliver a rail network that works for passengers.”
Burnley Council leader, Coun. Afrasiab Anwar, also opposes any closures.
He said: “The staff at Burnley Central Station and Burnley Manchester Road Station ticket offices not only handle ticket sales but also offer valuable assistance, address inquiries, provide travel information, and ensure the safety and well-being of passengers.
“Their expertise and personalised service contribute to a positive passenger experience.”