Concern rail travel will dwindle

PUBLISHED: 12:26 20 January 2009 | UPDATED: 22:53 15 June 2010

ELDERLY people confused by a machine and more expensive fares could reduce rail travel from Honiton now that the government has given South West Trains the signal to cut opening hours at the railway station's ticket office.

ELDERLY people confused by a machine and more expensive fares could reduce rail travel from Honiton now that the government has given South West Trains the signal to cut opening hours at the railway station's ticket office.That's the fear of those opposed to the change, which will see a machine doing more of the work currently undertaken by people.Honiton Town Council opposes the move. The council's acting chairman, Councillor Vivienne Ash, said: "It's so short-sighted. I'm totally opposed to it."The staff offer a service at the station that you can't get from a machine."Councillor Ash is concerned rail users won't get the best deals from a machine. "There's such a cost difference between standard fares and advance tickets," she said. "People need advice."Tony Simpson, secretary of Honiton Senior Council, agrees. He attempted to book a ticket to Bridgend, in Wales, last week and found that the automated machine gave three different prices - £41.70, £50.10 and £143.40."It did not give information about advance bookings £12, £16 and £18.50," he said.Honiton Senior Council is objecting to the reduced opening hours.In a statement, it said: "Many older rail travellers tell us they find these machines difficult to use and would much prefer a personal service."Machines are not always reliable and cannot answer questions."There is also the fact that machines do not always provide best value tickets, especially when using several companies or changing trains and zones."Older travellers could even be deterred from using the railway."Staff at Honiton Railway Station had yet to be formally told of the cutbacks last Thursday - even though the changes were being reported on television.New opening hours appear on page 17, together with a fuller report.Tell the Herald what you think by visiting our website or writing to the address on page 2.


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