Preston Railway Station may no longer have a ticket office under new proposals.Advertisement
Plans for the future of railways outline how ticket offices would be scrapped and replaced with ‘multi-skilled customer ambassador roles’ which would help customers buy tickets from machines.
Avanti West Coast, who operate the city’s railway station, is one of the train firms consulting on the proposals.
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They say 12 per cent of tickets are bought at a station ticket office, compared to 82 per cent in the mid-1990s.
The ticket office at Preston Station would be permanently closed under the plans, it’s currently staffed 5.45am-10pm on weekdays and 4.45am-9pm on Saturdays and 8am-10pm on Sundays.
Instead ticketing support staff would be available from 6am-8pm on weekdays and Saturdays and 9.30am to 6.30pm on Sundays.
The station would still be staffed by Avanti staff from 4am to 1am, no change to the current set up.
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Managing Director of Avanti West Coast, Andy Mellors, said: “It is important for the rail industry to change the way it retails tickets as customer behaviour has evolved over the last three decades.
“Our proposals would mean more staff on hand to give face-to-face help with a much wider range of needs, from journey planning, to finding the right ticket and helping those with accessibility needs.
“Our commitment is that we will always treat our people fairly, with support and extra training to move in to new and varied roles with a number of responsibilities without compromising on the safety of them or our customers.
“We also understand that our customers have differing needs which is why we will be consulting with accessibility groups on this consultation.”
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Lobby group Transport for the North has already given its reaction.
A spokesperson said: “We understand that the way people buy tickets is changing and that there needs to be reform. However, this should be done in a holistic way, considering the needs of all station users and local communities.
“We are concerned that the focus on ticket office staffing in isolation of wider investment (for example pay as you go ticketing) could lead to disadvantaging certain passengers and communities. We will be working with our partners on a robust response to the consultation using local evidence and knowledge.
“Patronage growth on the railways in the North is strong, albeit people are choosing to travel at different times for different purposes. Done correctly, we can ensure that reform supports growth and the needs of all passengers. But it must not be to the disadvantage of any station users, especially in regards to accessibility and safety.”
Anyone wanting to give views can visit the Avanti consultation website and the deadline for responses is Wednesday 26 July.
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