The Government is planning to close every rail ticket office in England, leaving passengers to buy their tickets online, according to The Times. The move will save £500million a year and is reported to be ready to roll out from September.
The paper says the rail industry has written a confidential strategy to phase out physical tickets, closing its almost 1,000 ticket offices in England. One in every eight tickets is still bought over the counter according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
And charity Age Concern says around 3million people over the age of 65 do not have internet access. Caroline Abrahams of Age UK told The Times: “Many more [older people] lack an up-to-date smartphone or tablet, or live in a place with unreliable broadband. These people have relied on buying tickets face-to-face or over the phone and then collecting them from a station machine. What are they expected to do if everything goes online?”
In a speech Mr Shapps said: “The quietest office sold just 17 tickets in three months. Any sensible plan would move staff away from where they are not needed, like ticket offices.”
He added that staff would be available to help customers with their tickets, saying they would: “welcome passengers who cannot or do not want to use contactless or mobile tickets, advise on journeys and timetables and help them buy tickets”.