MP hits out at threat to shut Rugby ticket office

The controversial bid to close nearly all railway ticket offices and leave travellers at the mercy of machines and apps has come under fire from Rugby MP Mark Pawsey, who is also urging the public to have a say.
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The closure plan has been driven by profit rather than public service and threatens to make travel much more difficult for many – while leaving those happy to rely on the technology at risk of buying more expensive tickets than they need.

These issues have been raised across the country since the plans were confirmed and have been echoed in a response by Mr Pawsey, in support of Rugby’s highly-regarded ticket office team.

Rugby is run by Avanti West Coast, which is looking to close all its offices eventually, including Coventry and Birmingham International. Other operators in Warwickshire are also planning closures, meaning even in a tourist hot-spot like Stratford-upon-Avon, the office will go.

The main entrance to Rugby station. Photo: Google Street View.The main entrance to Rugby station. Photo: Google Street View.
The main entrance to Rugby station. Photo: Google Street View.

The PR for the plans, driven by the government, say the action is in response to a sharp drop in people using ticket offices and says staff currently working in one will be redeployed to the concourse to support travellers there.

But the RMT union has warned for months that if this plan became reality it would make travel much more difficult for those who account for the 12 per cent of sales still done through offices – and since the rail companies went public on July 5, many more voices have been raised in opposition.

In a strongly-worded letter to Transport Focus, which is running the consultation on the plans for ticket offices outside the London area, he said: “I strongly support the retention of the ticket office at Rugby railway station.

“As a regular user of the railway service travelling from Rugby to Westminster, I know how valuable the expertise of Rugby’s ticket office staff is.

“I also know that for a number of my constituents, speaking to a member of staff at the ticket office is the best way for them to buy a ticket, particularly for more complex journeys.

“This is especially important for those who are digitally excluded, or who have struggled with self-service machines, and it is vital that they are still able to use Rugby station fully.

“I appreciate there is an intention to redeploy ticket office staff to elsewhere in the station.

“However, for those who are less mobile or disabled, the clarity of a set location at which they can obtain assistance is far preferable to roving ticket office staff.”

He has also raised his concerns with government ministers and is urging Rugby residents to add their voices to the 21-day consultation before it closes on Wednesday, July 26.

In a separate statement, he said: “It is vital that any decisions about the future of the ticket office at Rugby station is made in consultation with the passengers and users of Rugby’s railway.

“I would therefore encourage anyone with views on this issue to respond to this consultation on the proposals and ensure that their voice is heard.”

You can respond to the consultation online at www.transportfocus.org.uk/ticket-office-consultation/, in writing to the freepost address: RTEH-XAGE-BYKZ, Transport Focus, PO Box 5594, Southend on Sea, SS1 9PZ or by email to: [email protected].