The government has reversed its decision to close rail ticket offices.

The government has reversed its decision to close rail ticket offices.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has reversed its decision to shut down numerous rail ticket offices. This change comes after Transport Focus, the passenger watchdog, expressed opposition to all proposed closures.

The plans by train operators to close the vast majority of rail ticket offices were revealed in July. The government, which bankrolls the leading rail firms, had directed them to come up with proposals to cut costs. They did so, but immediately triggered a huge backlash from passenger groups, campaigners for disabled people and trade unions.

The secretary of transportation, Mark Harper, announced this morning: “The consultation regarding ticket offices has officially concluded. The government has consistently emphasized to the rail industry that any resulting proposals must prioritize serving passengers at a high level.”

During the process, we have collaborated with accessibility organizations and carefully considered feedback from both passengers and colleagues in parliament. However, the government has determined that the resulting proposals do not meet their standards, and has requested that train operators retract their proposals.

“We are committed to further enhancing our railway system by implementing contactless pay-as-you-go ticketing, improving station accessibility through our Access for All initiative, and allocating £350 million through our Network North strategy to enhance accessibility at approximately 100 stations.”

Transport Focus and London TravelWatch, the equivalent organization in the capital, received 750,000 responses from both individuals and organizations during the consultation.

Anthony Smith, the chief executive of Transport Focus, announced that they are objecting to the plans to shut down ticket offices after reviewing 750,000 responses to the consultation and having extensive discussions with train companies.

“The watchdog has successfully made significant revisions and updates, such as ensuring that staff will be available at many stations during existing times. While some train companies were closer to meeting our standards than others.”

“Despite potential benefits, there are lingering concerns about the implementation of ‘welcome points’ and how they would function in reality. Additionally, there are uncertainties about how the effectiveness of these changes would be evaluated and how future discussions about staffing levels will be conducted.”

Several train companies were not able to persuade us of their capability to sell a complete variety of tickets, manage cash transactions, and prevent long lines at ticket machines.

If the plan had not been abandoned by the government, proposals to close would have been submitted to the transport secretary, Mr. Harper, for a final decision.

Some train operators are privately furious about being ordered to provide radical solutions to the extreme financial pressure facing the railways – but then being blamed after the travelling public objected vehemently. “We’ve been thrown under the train,” one insider said.