Unions and passengers fear closure of ticket offices on London Midland
24 Jul 2012
Rail unions and passenger groups fear that the Department for Transport will soon be giving the green light to the closure and severely reduced opening hours of 86 of the 90 stations operated by London Midland, the private Train Operating Company.
Campaigners from Action for Rail are holding a day of action to alert passengers to forthcoming closures that they believe will shortly be given the green light by the Department for Transport. London Midland passengers are hostile to the company’s plans, with 18,000 of them registering opposition to the proposals as part of a public consultation. Opposition has also been expressed by Centro, the Integrate Transport Authority for the West Midlands and Richard Burden MP for Birmingham Northfield.
In April 2012, the TSSA union revealed emails that indicated that Department for Transport staff were likely to give approval for an unspecified number of closures. This week the Department also indicated that it was planning to make changes to the Ticketing and Settling Arrangement (TSA), the non-statutory regulations that that ensure passengers must be consulted if a company wants to close or make major changes to ticket offices. Removing the requirement to consult passengers to enable Train Operating Companies more freedom to close and reduce ticket office opening hours forms part of the government’s ‘red tape challenge’ and would greatly reduce the ability of passengers to have a say over ticketing arrangements on their rail service.
Documents leaked to the RMT union show that London Midland stands to make an additional £1.25 million profit as a result of the ticket office changes, while at the same time it continues to receive subsidy from the taxpayer of over £100m a year. Last year, London Midland increased fare prices by over 7% for many of its passengers.
Action for Rail will be leafleting passengers from 8am on Thursday 26th July at a number of stations in the West Midlands including Birmingham New Street, Birmingham Snow Hill, Worcester Foregate Street, and Stourbridge Junction.