The number of responses in the consultation over ticket office closures sent to the transport watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch has soared from 170,000 in late July to 315,000 now, according to Transport Focus.
The original 21-day consultation period, which would have ended on 26 July, has been extended to 1 September, and some sources are describing the volume of protests as ‘overwhelming’.
Councils are among the protestors. Reading Borough Council has written to the Rail Delivery Group to make its opposition plain. One Reading councillor said he believes the plans would have a ‘retrograde step, making accessing the railways less inviting and accessible by putting up barriers for vulnerable people and people with disabilities, as well as not encouraging new passengers or providing a welcoming gateway for tourists’.
Councillors in Somerset are ‘extremely concerned’, and another councillor in Nottinghamshire described the proposals as ‘an attack on public service’.
Dan Norris, the Mayor of the West of England Combined Authority, which covers Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, warned that he often pays more for a ticket when using a machine compared to talking to a member of staff at a ticket office. He also deplored the fact that many people do not have smartphones, and so cannot buy tickets that way.
Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, has criticised the government over the ‘totally insufficient’ initial 21-day consultation period, which he said was a ‘disgrace’. He has written to transport secretary Mark Harper to express his objections to the plan.
Railnews has received more messages from readers about ticket office closures than on any other subject, and has added a page to its Platform section in the forthcoming August print edition, which is published a week today, to reflect as many opinions as possible.