Rail campaigners welcome decision over train station ticket offices and say more staff, not fewer, are needed
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But the Halifax and District Rail Action Group (HADRAG) says that while the u-turn over the decision is particularly good news for people with disabilities, passengers need to be alert to possible future plans.
In Calderdale, Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden should now keep their booking offices, but HADRAG says ambition and imagination is now needed to expand the role of staff at more, not fewer stations.
"Longer staffing hours, not shorter, are what rail passengers need now,” said Stephen Waring, chair of HADRAG. “More staff to help more people according to their needs.
“We are greatly relieved that our ticket offices appear to have been saved.
"Staff at stations like Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden do a magnificent job.
"They are keen to make sure passengers buy the right ticket and get the best value in a system where the range of possibilities can be baffling.
"They can help in ways that can never be available online or by self-service machines. For many disabled and needy passengers station staff are vital.
“So we must value our ticket office staff and campaign for their role now to be expanded. More stations need staff – places like Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse – that were promised staffing when Northern’s franchise started in 2016.
"And, we would argue, stations need to be staffed from earlier in the morning to later in the evening. Staff there to help passengers – including people with disabilities – give a greater feeling of security, and make our stations a more human place.
“This is about a lot more than just selling tickets.
“On the locally controlled Merseyrail Electrics network around Liverpool, most if not all stations have booking offices with staff present from before the first train of the day until after the last one. Is it too ambitious to say that is what we should now be aiming for across Northern and other companies’ networks?
“We must keep on campaigning for a better deal for station users. We must not lower our defences, but keep a keen eye on what the train companies – under the government – are planning. Our stations must remain places energised by people, for people.”