I object most strongly to the proposal to shut down the railway station ticket offices.

I have growing mobility issues and cannot cope with impersonal machines. The knowledgeable, experienced and helpful station ticketing staff have always been an essential encouragement, especially when I have to plan cross-country routes, change stations or depart and leave at unusual times.  A fellow in the Winchester office has been wonderful over the years in helping plan trips to countries abroad; folk in the Basingstoke office have been equally helpful for local travel; neither can be replaced by a ticket machine! Nor do I wish to buy tickets (or anything else) online, which is just another way of potentially exposing your business and all of us to more error, confusion and fraud.

No doubt you will argue that the upcoming ‘younger generation’ will replace those less happy with the constant moves to supplant everything with technology and that, in future, mechanised life will be just fine for you.  However, go abroad, watch travel programmes on TV, and the focus is always on service provided by proud employees. Even in mechanised, heavily-populated Japan, they have proper ticket offices, guards on the stations and staff on the trains. Getting rid of ticket offices will be further discouragement to potential tourists planning to visit the area – and just think how much income is derived from tourism in the South Western Rail region.

However helpful your proposed ‘wandering staff’ might be, without knowledge and experience they cannot possibly replace the current teams. Employees need time to build up their expertise and, if all they are doing is ‘assisting people at the machines,’ they are unlikely to develop much understanding beyond which button to press to get a ticket to wherever.  And as for tapping a button on a computer to get information instantly – just think how many times that has not worked.

I, like many of my friends and acquaintances, have (since before Covid) stopped going into towns where parking lots provide smartphone-only/RingGo meters; we do not use the self-service checkouts at supermarkets and even avoid those that have installed them; and we have not used the ticket machines on the stations. Shutting down the ticket offices will simply mean that we will cease to use the rail services as well.

It will be the death knell of rail tourism and what used to be a wonderful rail service.

D E Collard

Medina Garden


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