Simon Lightwood MP's 'delight' at Wakefield Westgate ticket office u-turn
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Under the proposals, some ticket kiosks would have remained in large stations, but elsewhere staff will be on concourses to sell tickets, offer travel advice and help people with accessibility.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said today that the government had asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.
Simon Lightwood said: “I’m delighted that the threat of closure for our ticket offices, including Wakefield Westgate, has been withdrawn.
“The closure of Wakefield Westgate ticket office would have negatively affected so many passengers who rely on our ticket office to buy their tickets, to seek assistance with accessibility issues and for safety when travelling late at night.
“This decision will allow passengers to breathe a sigh of relief. It will also be a huge relief to the amazing staff, who have had no clarity on what these proposals could have meant for their jobs.
“I want to thank everyone who made their voice heard in the consultation, who spoke up for the value our ticket offices and staff bring to our railways.
"The sheer volume of pushback against these proposals has ultimately saved our ticket office.”
The Leader of Wakefield Council, Denise Jeffery, said the announcement is a victory for everyone who uses Wakefield Westgate.
She said: “The ticket office at the station is a hugely important part of making our local railway accessible and safe for passengers, so it’s good news that it will remain open.
“Whilst I’m glad the Government have ultimately listened to the views of the public and our local politicians, these unworkable, shambolic plans should never have been brought forward.
“I hope that they now focus on constructive ways to improve the experience of passengers in our district, making the railways work better for everyone who relies on them.”
Guide Dogs also responded to the news saying ticket offices and frontline rail staff play an ‘essential rol in making train travel – and in turn reaching work, appointments, and socialising – possible for so many people, especially people with a vision impairment.
A Guide Dogs spokesperson said: “We await to see the full details of the announcement, but Guide Dogs welcomes this decision, which has come after an almost unprecedented public outcry from a wide range of groups and organisations.
"Guide Dogs look forward to working with the Government and train operators on the next stages, and to continue to address the barriers too many passengers with a vision impairment face when using trains to travel, which prevent them from living their lives independently.”
Penny Hefferan, Lived Experience Officer at Guide Dogs, said: “I regularly travel by train to different places with my guide dog Questa, so today’s decision to reverse the planned closure of ticket offices in England is a huge relief for me and so many others who voiced their opposition to the plans.
"It means I can continue to live my life independently.
"The ticket office at train station is so much more than just a place I can purchase a train ticket, it’s a specific location I know I can get the information and any assistance I need from staff. Self-service ticket machines are inaccessible for people with a vision impairment, so the prospect of having to rely on these or trying to locate station staff, who under the proposal would not be in one fixed location and would be moving around the station, was extremely concerning.
"It is so much more reassuring knowing there will be a fixed point that if I need information or assistance, I can find it. Everyone should be able to access the train network independently, and maintaining ticket offices allows more people with a disability the right to turn up and go travel.”