Wales

Arriva Trains Wales has 'no ticket office closure plan'

Train
Image caption Arriva Trains Wales says it has no plans to close its ticket offices

Arriva Trains Wales says it has no plans to close any of its ticket offices after a union reveals details of a review which recommends closing hundreds in Wales and England.

The UK government-commissioned review recommends closing more than a third of Wales' ticket offices, says a union.

Those on the list include Holyhead, Llandrindod Wells, Flint, Llanelli and Severn Tunnel Junction.

But Arriva Trains Wales said it had no closure plans.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association union said the "hit list" appeared in a report drawn up by Sir Roy McNulty about how to achieve savings in the rail industry.

In all, 675 stations across England and Wales could lose their ticket offices with 1,000 job losses, according to the union.

Of the 240 stations across Wales, around 55 are staffed with ticket offices but the report is said to propose closing more than 20.

The UK government is expected to respond fully next month to the report, which maintained that the railway industry could make savings of £1bn a year.

It recommends the use of machines to replace ticket offices currently provided and staffed by employees of rail operating companies.

'Feel less safe'

Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) officials said they only discovered the recommendation when they read the full report, which runs to hundreds of pages.

Passenger Focus, the independent rail consumer watchdog, said ticket machines were "second rate" compared to a staffed ticket office.

"Our research shows that many passengers prefer to use the ticket office to ensure that they buy the cheapest, valid fare," said David Sidebottom, a director from Passenger Focus.

"Lots of passengers also find the machines physically difficult to operate, with some really struggling to use them at all."

He added: "When we asked what would make passengers feel safer when travelling on the railway, the message from them was clear - increase the presence of visible staff.

"The closure of ticket offices will make passengers feel less safe and put them off from travelling by train."

But Train operator Arriva Trains Wales, which runs all the ticket offices in Wales, said it had "no current plans at this time to close any ticket office or significantly change any ticket office hours at any of our stations across the network".

TSSA leader Gerry Doherty is calling on UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to reject the cutbacks, warning that passengers will feel less safe travelling, and will find it more difficult to buy tickets.

The Department of Transport said: "We are currently considering the findings of Sir Roy McNulty's independent report and any of his proposed changes to rail fares or ticketing will be examined as part of a government review."

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