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Date posted: 1st November 2023
National sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust is calling for publication of a national government strategy to address inaccessible rail travel, following issues raised in the ticket office closure consultation.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper has announced the government had asked train operators to withdraw their proposals as they did not meet high passenger standards.
Throughout the summer, Thomas Pocklington Trust and partners have been campaigning on proposals to close nearly 1,000 rail ticket offices across the country. This activity includes working with partners to lobby government, transport providers and appearing on TV stations across the country alongside local Sight Loss Councils.
Following this campaign, travel watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch reported that they received more than 750,000 consultation responses and, of these, 99 per cent were objections. Following this, the Transport Minister reported that ticket offices would not close.
Key issues raised include concerns around accessibility, ticket machine capability, and how passenger assistance and information would be delivered in future.
Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns, Mike Bell, said:
“Ticket offices provide much more than just tickets. They are an essential source of support and advice for disabled people. As a result, we have worked tirelessly with partners on this campaign and welcome the U-turn by government. But this must now act as an immediate catalyst for action on the wider accessibility issues raised as part of this consultation.
“What we want is a railway network that is accessible to everyone. To achieve this, we need to see the long-awaited National Railway Accessibility Strategy, first announced in 2021, published.
“Without a national strategy on accessibility on the railways, passengers will continue to be buffeted by one-off proposals like ticket office closures. A clear national plan is needed and the sooner the better.”