Worthing and Shoreham Labour opposes plans to axe rail station ticket offices
Worthing and Shoreham Labour is dismayed by the plans to axe and downgrade as many as 81 station ticket offices across the Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern franchises operated by Govia. Among those facing total closure are Shoreham and Lancing, whilst ticket offices at Worthing, Angmering and Portslade will face a dramatic reduction in services to peak hours only.
The first wave of closures and downgrades are expected as early as June with others following later when, according to Govia, passengers have been “re-educated” sufficiently into using ticket machines.
“The cuts will leave stations understaffed all the time and unstaffed some of the time, particularly in the evening and at weekends,” said Labour campaigner Jim Deen. “Passengers using the stations will be left without the support and help they expect, and many will feel less secure with no staff around.
“It’s not a matter of ‘re-educating’ passengers,” said Jim. “Replacing staff with ticket machines will inevitably limit the quality and range of services available. Independent rail user surveys consistently show that passengers value having staff around and that their journey experience would be much worse without them.”
This was confirmed when Labour campaigners took to the streets of Shoreham on Saturday with a petition against the planned closures. The public response was overwhelmingly against the Shoreham closure and the party will be launching a change.org petition and joining with rail unions TSSA and RMT to keep this vital community facility open.
Govia, when it won the franchise for the Southern and Thameslink franchises in 2014, said its bid for the franchises was “focused on improving customers’ experience” and on “improving staffing at stations”. “Those commitments seem to have been overtaken by their determination to maximise profits at the expense of customer service,” said Jim.
The plans come less than a month after commuters gave Thameslink the worst satisfaction rating of any rail operating company in the country and Southern, was named as third worst. Company bosses were hauled before MPs to explain why rail services in the area were so poor and there have been suggestions that the franchises might be terminated early if services didn’t improve.
At the beginning of the year, local Labour Party members demonstrated outside local rail stations in support of returning the railway to public ownership and putting passengers before profit. “This is further evidence that Govia care far less about passenger services, jobs and safety than they do about extracting maximum profit from these routes,” said Jim Deen. “These essential rail services should be taken into public ownership now before Govia can do any more damage.”
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