Review of ticket office hours 'perverse'

PUBLISHED: 14:05 22 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:07 15 June 2010

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

PASSENGERS who use Axminster 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.Mayor of Axminster Graham Godbeer said: "We find it very perverse of South West Trains, because of the potential increase of passengers at the end of the year. It's sending out the wrong message to get people to use railways more."He added, it could be difficult buying a ticket via the machine - in cases where it had malfunctioned, people did not have the right change or were unsure of the price - and train users could not take the risk of travelling without a ticket."It will put elderly people off - especially those with senior rail cards," he said. "They have to get trains when somebody is in the office. So, I'm not at all happy about it." Councillor John Jeffries agreed that machines alone could not help people.He said: "People want somebody to talk to - not just use machines. Travel is so confusing now, with different prices depending on what day and time."I'm about people and staff first of all, and it feels like a step back. It beggars belief when the South West is proposing having an increased hourly service to London Waterloo. I'm left speechless."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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