Ticket machines 'replacing people'

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

TRAIN users are angry over cuts to staffing hours at Honiton and Axminster railway stations. South West Train's (SWT) proposals to cut manning hours were accepted by the Department for Transport (DfT).

TRAIN users are angry over cuts to staffing hours at Honiton and Axminster railway stations.South West Train's (SWT) proposals to cut manning hours were accepted by the Department for Transport (DfT).Honiton railway station's opening hours will now be 6.05am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday (instead of 5.50am to 7.45pm); 7am to 5.30pm on Saturday (instead of 6.10am to 8pm) and 9.30am to 1.50pm on Sunday (previously 8.30am to 7.50pm).Office hours at Axminster station will be 6.15 to 5pm Monday to Friday (closing three and a half hours earlier); 7.15am to 1.05pm on Saturday (previously from 6.20am to 8.20pm) and will now be closed all day Sunday. But not all SWT's plans to cut office hours at 114 stations have been accepted by the DfT. Axminster and Honiton were among the unlucky ones.A spokesperson for SWT said the recent cutbacks were a reaction to the current economic climate.She said: "We are obviously disappointed that the DfT has not agreed to all our proposals as we believe they make good commercial sense and reflect the way retailing is changing."Train users from across the Axe Valley have complained that the loss of human contact will cause inconvenience, particularly for the elderly.Micheal Fearnley, from Washway Road, Axminster, said: "I think it's a shambles. "I think the station should be manned more because people - especially those with learning difficulties or the elderly - will struggle to use the machine."I once got stopped travelling to Brighton after I bought a ticket from the machine." Elizabeth Perfect, from Hawkchurch, felt the cuts to be short-sighted. She said: "I think it's a very poor idea because they are going to expand the railway line, with more trains coming through, and they will need a proper level of staff."Nealia Plumridge, from Musbury said: "Most of us travel at the times which are likely to be cut down more. So, it's inconvenient for us certainly. "I think a lot of people, especially the elderly, will find the machine difficult to use."Husband Robert added: "The staff are extremely helpful here. "I don't think it's a good idea."Steve Fisher, who works at the station cafe, said the hours had already been cut enough.He said: "The service can be 'willy- nilly' for people who want human contact. It could leave older people hanging in the air who can't use the ticket machine. It leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to senior rail cards." Harry Ford, 20, a Classics and English student at Oxford, lives in Lyme Regis and often uses the train service to travel to and from university. He felt buying tickets from staff was more convenient, but not a necessity.He said: "It can be a bit of a pain when you arrive and need someone there to sell you tickets, though I suppose you can always buy one later on the train."However, Ben Legg, 20, believes the cut in staff hours could improve service.He said: "I think it will be easier. They won't have to employ someone to stand behind the counter and tickets will be on sale all the time. "You might be able to buy tickets for the next day, too. "I would be quite happy with that service.

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