Whitchurch and Overton ticket offices facing closure

OVERTON and Whitchurch could both lose their ticket offices if Government recommendations made to save £1 billion get the go ahead.

A hit list of 675 railway offices – one in four across the country – which could lose their staff has been presented to the Government in a commissioned report.

It was compiled by Sir Roy McNulty, who was called in to help the rail industry become more sufficient, but has raised fears that 1,000 jobs could go if the closures get the green light.

This would leave passengers using vending machines, which do not always have the lowest fare and some complain of the technology being too complicated.

Cllr Keith Watts, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s representative for Whitchurch, said: “It will be a bad day for Whitchurch if the station ticket office closes completely. Many special offers and discounts are not available through the ticket machines. “This can only reduce the use of trains by local people, putting services at risk and pushing more of the costs on the shoulders of those who depend on rail travel to get to work.

“This will also mean that the station is unmanned. The present clerk at Whitchurch Station has done a lot to improve the ambience of the station and make the passengers feel welcome. Train companies need more people like him, not fewer, or they will lose public support altogether. “We, the people of Whitchurch, need to fight for our railway station to remain open and alive.”

Closing ticket offices at little-used stations was part of a package of measures aimed at cutting £1 billion a year from the industry's running costs.

However, the final decision on whether the stations will be shut rests with the train operators.

South West Trains, which runs both the stations in Whitchurch and Overton, released this statement: “This came out as part of a report commissioned by the Government, and the Government have yet to confirm how they plan to take forward the recommendations in the report.

“There is currently a process in place to make changes to ticket office hours and this involves a thorough consultation process.”

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