Passengers campaign to keep ticket office open at Honiton

PUBLISHED: 08:55 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:07 15 June 2010

PASSENGERS who use Honiton Railway Station have been signing petition sheets, opposing plans by South West Trains to reduce the ticket office opening times.

PASSENGERS who use Honiton Railway Station have been signing petition sheets, opposing plans by South West Trains to reduce the ticket office opening times.A public consultation period, launched last week, will conclude on August 5, giving campaigners only a few weeks to gather support.Sylvia Clarke, 75, of Sidmouth, was signing the petition when the Herald visited the station last Thursday. "I don't think any ticket offices should be closed," she said."It's nice to have the direct contact, because you have options. I rely on it."Passengers told the Herald they were unhappy about being forced to use an automated ticket machine, which has been installed outside the station's main entrance.Denise Clarke, 53 (no relation to Sylvia Clarke), was accompanying a young man with learning difficulties on his journey home."I am with a young man who lives in supported accommodation. It's quite a worry because, although he lives in Devon, he regularly travels to see his family who live elsewhere."Other passengers, who did not give their names, described the threat of reduced opening hours as "a nuisance"."A lot of people don't like using machines; they prefer human contact," one said.Another said she had been given incorrect information for Honiton services elsewhere, but always received the right information from ticket office staff.Ticket staff said they were not permitted to comment, without permission from South West Trains.A spokesperson for the train company said: "Over the last four weeks we have been carrying out the first of a two-part consultation into current ticket office opening hours."The ticket office opening hours at stations have not been reviewed for more than 10 years and, with retail constantly evolving and people's needs changing, there was a need to review this. "The way that people buy rail tickets has changed dramatically, with new era ticket vending machines (TVMs) offering an ever-increasing range of products and the option of buying over the internet or telesales. The growth of sales in these areas led us to review ticket office sales, which in turn has led us to proposals to reduce the opening hours of ticket offices at 114 stations."There are no proposals to close any ticket offices. What the review identified are a number of stations where ticket office opening hours could be reduced.

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