Chipping Barnet politicians welcome ticket office u-turn

MP Theresa Villiers and Labour opponent Dan Tomlinson had both campaigned against rail industry plans to shut ticket offices at local stations reports David Floyd

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers with a constituent at New Southgate station, with a train in the background
Theresa Villiers with a constituent at New Southgate station – (Credit – Office of Theresa Villiers MP)

Barnet politicians celebrated yesterday after plans to close hundreds of station ticket offices were reversed.

The government ordered train companies to drop the controversial proposals meaning ticket offices at Oakleigh Park, New Barnet and New Southgate will now remain open. 

The decision came the day after the publication of the results of a consultation with passengers which received over 750,000 responses, 99% of which were objections. 

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers – who had raised concerns about the plans – praised the decision saying: “It is good that ministers have listened to the many thousands of people who took the time to respond to the consultation about ticket offices.”

“While technology such as Oyster in London, and similar systems outside the capital, does mean that ticket-buying habits are changing, the scale of the ticket office changes proposed by the rail industry clearly did not command public support. There was simply insufficient confidence that people would still have access to the advice they need on ticket purchase.”

“The proposal to switch staff to other duties and close ticket offices in stations in my constituency has therefore been withdrawn and will not now happen.”

Her Labour opponent for the Chipping Barnet seat at the next general election, Dan Tomlinson, who has also campaigned on the issue commented: “I’m pleased that the voices of residents and rail users in Barnet and beyond have been heard loud and clear.

“Our campaign against the closures of ticket offices at Oakleigh Park and New Barnet brought together people from across the community who highlighted the negative impacts such closures would have, especially on disabled and elderly users. I will continue to champion the needs of our local community and speak up for the vital services we all rely on.”

On publishing the results of the passenger consultation that prompted the government’s decision on Tuesday, Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of London TravelWatch, said: “The idea of closing ticket offices to locate staff nearer to the passengers may sound attractive, but it has proved highly controversial with the public. Together with Transport Focus, we received 750,000 responses from individuals and organisations to the consultation, many expressing powerful and passionate concerns about the plans.

“The three big issues for the public arising from the consultation were how to buy tickets in future, how to get travel advice and information at stations, and how Disabled passengers can get assistance when they need it. London TravelWatch has heard these views loud and clear, and would like to thank all those who took the time to take part.”

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