Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Cuts to ticket offices rejected

crowded commuter train
Train users were facing closed ticket offices on weekdays

A plan by South West Trains to reduce opening times at ticket offices has been mostly rejected by the government.

Transport Minister Lord Adonis called some of the proposals "unacceptable" and said tickets should remain easily available.

The company, which runs trains across southern England, including busy routes from Waterloo station, said it was disappointed with the decision.

The government looked at the station traffic on a case-by-case basis.

Passengers' interests

Lord Adonis said: "We have rejected many of the proposed cutbacks in opening hours because we were not convinced they were in passengers' interests."

In a statement, South West Trains said: "We are obviously disappointed that the Department for Transport has not agreed all our proposals as we believed they made good commercial sense and reflected the way retailing is changing."

By replacing manned ticket offices with machines, stations are less secure and passengers face paying higher fares
Gerry Doherty, Transport Salaried Staffs Association

Passenger groups and unions objected to the plans to cut ticket office opening times at 114 stations across the network, including weekday closures.

The government rejected proposals to cut hours at offices during times when on average 12 or more tickets are issued hourly.

That meant that 80% of proposed changes which would have cut Saturday openings entirely and 65% of changes that would have seen no Sunday openings will now not proceed.

Of the 105 stations where the company wanted to cut opening hours on weekdays, 53 requests were rejected.

Gerry Doherty, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said the decision would send a clear message to other rail companies not to cut services to passengers to try to boost profits during the recession.

"By replacing manned ticket offices with machines, stations are less secure and passengers face paying higher fares when there are no staff around to advise them on the cheapest travel option."



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