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U-turn over plans to scrap railway ticket offices welcomed

 THE decision to scrap plans to close railway station ticket offices, including the facility at Frome Station, has been welcomed locally. 

The plans to close almost all the rail network’s 1,007 remaining offices across the country within the next three years were initially announced in July following what was described as a “collapse in numbers of people using ticket offices” after it was revealed that only 12% of the total tickets are bought at station kiosks. Although the plan was announced by train operators who manage station offices, the group says they were pushed by government in a bid to save money. 

The plans were criticised heavily by campaigners who said that those without access to the internet or a smartphone would be “severely disadvantaged”. 

However, in a U-turn, the government announced last week that they have asked train operators to withdraw their proposals because they failed to meet high passenger standards. 

Local campaigner Sue Bucklow has welcomed the news. “I think it’s clear that the huge sway of support for the ticket offices following the initial announcement contributed in this decision to U-turn on the plans, especially because people right across society were standing together about this issue,” she said. 

“People are always being disenfranchised in society and I think the plans to close the ticket offices would have affected those that don’t have access to the internet or own a smart phone the most, which in a cost-of-living crisis would include many people.” 

Frome’s Mayor, cllr Philip Campagna said, “This is excellent news for all Frome rail passengers. The service provided by ticket office staff, particularly Anna here in Frome, is invaluable to many people of all ages. 

“Ticket office staff like Anna provide information, accessibility and security for many travellers. I must thank Sue Bucklow for all her efforts by bringing this issue to the rail travellers of Frome.” 

Local MP Sarah Dyke added, “I wrote to the Secretary of State in August telling him I was deeply concerned about the impact of the closure of ticket offices on constituents, particularly the elderly and some of the most vulnerable in our society. “Ticket offices allow passengers to speak to someone in person if they have a query or a problem and it’s important that people aren’t abandoned on the station platform without the help they need. “I’m delighted to have played a part in persuading the government to see sense and I welcome the announcement this morning that these vital community assets will remain open.”

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