The deadline for responses to the consultation on changes to the way tickets are sold by English operators has been extended to 1 September. Launched on 5 July, initially the consultation was due to run for just three weeks, closing on 26 July. Transport Focus and London TravelWatch have between them received more than 170,000 comments on the proposals already, which are being logged and reviewed.
The extension of the deadline is said to be in response to feedback and to provide time for more people to respond. London TravelWatch points out that some train companies did not provide people with complete and accessible formats from the start of the consultation period, meaning some people may have been prevented from being able to respond to the proposals.
The consultation is considering the future of ticket offices at 974 stations, run by operators under contract to the Department for Transport. The proposal is that most ticket offices would be replaced by staff in ‘multi-skilled’ roles on platforms and concourses offering assistance to passengers. The Rail Delivery Group says only one in eight tickets are sold via a ticket office and 99% of products can be sold at ticket machines or online. Some operators proposed closing all traditional ticket offices, including at major stations such as London termini, but others plan to retain a small number of ticket offices at selected stations.
When the extended consultation period ends, Transport Focus and London TravelWatch have 35 days in which to discuss the proposals and representations. At the end of the period, they may object to particular proposals. A train company then has to decide whether or not to proceed, and if they proceed contrary to an objection the matter is referred to the Secretary of State for Transport.
The consultation has drawn widespread and continued backlash from a host of organisations. Legal challenges have been threatened by Labour Metro Mayors and by groups representing those with accessibility needs.