Leader of the Council responds to South Western Railway station change proposals
27 July 2023
Councillor Gareth Roberts has responded to South Western Railway's consultation into the planned closure all of their rail ticket offices. The consultation has been extended to 1 September 2023.
Cllr Roberts, Leader of the Council, said: “In my capacity as Leader of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames I wish to register not only my personal objection, but the collective objection of the Council as a whole, as well as the residents of Richmond upon Thames, to the proposals outlined in the ticket office closure consultation.
“While understanding the need of rail operating companies to deliver an efficient service, and while being mindful of the financial imperatives driving this programme, it is impossible to view the proposals as anything other than a serious degradation of service for passengers.
“At stations such as Hampton we will see the manning of the station reduced from nearly twelve hours a day Monday to Friday, to just four hours a day over the same period, excluding Monday. Weekend operating hours will be reduced on Saturday from approximately ten hours’ staffing to just four hours’ staffing. Sunday, which currently has a six hour staffing window, will have no staffing at all.
“This picture is replicated, with minor variations, across the majority of the network of stations covering the borough. Only Richmond and Twickenham will see an upgrade in terms of staffing hours, however it remains to be seen how having staff members roaming the entirety of the station will be an improvement over the presence of an easily identifiable staff member in a fixed location.
“This massive reduction of staffing hours at the majority of our Category 3 stations will, as I have said, mark a serious degradation of service for passengers travelling to and from these stations. It would be fair to assume that, given the choice of a staffed ticket office for 12 hours, versus a roaming station attendant for just four hours, the majority would choose the former.
“I am also mindful of the fact that these proposals have been roundly condemned by various organisations, not least our local disability charity RUILS. I echo the concerns which have been raised by these groups. I would also question the wisdom of such wholescale reductions of staffing hours given the proposals to remove guards from trains. If there are no guards and no station staff, how will those with accessibility needs have the confidence to travel by train in the future?
“I urge those who will have the ultimate decision-making authority in relation to these proposals to reject them in their entirety. Even the improvements at our Category 2 stations are not sufficient to warrant the sacrifices at our Category 3 stations.
“Until such time as a proposal comes forward which will guarantee staffing hours, which are at least similar to their current levels, or offer an improvement to those hours, across the entirety of stations covering the borough then I, this Council and the majority of residents will be unable to offer our support.”
View South Western Railway’s Station Change Proposal for more information and have your say before Friday 1 September.
Up to: July 2023
Updated: 27 July 2023