Boston station ticket office could be for the chop

BOSTON railway station’s ticket office may soon be facing closure after it was named in a list of hundreds recommended for the chop in a report to the government.

A total of 675 stations may be affected as part of the independent report on money-saving measures in the railways which was made public by rail union the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) this week.

If that part of the report, produced by Sir Roy McNulty, is given the green light by transport secretary Philip Hammond later in the year, it could leave Boston and other stations unmanned and passengers reliant on ticket machines on the platform.

Mike Gilbert, Boston Borough Council cabinet member for community transport said it was ‘deeply regrettable’ that the service may be lost.

He added: “The ticket office provides a service to a number of transport users, predominantly the elderly, who are unable to book their transport online. At the moment there are still those people who like the old personal touch.”

TSSA leader Gerry Doherty described the move as a ‘double whammy’ for passengers, as it follows an announcement last month that rail fares were set to increase by 25 per cent over the next three years.

He said: “Not only are unstaffed stations less secure, tickets bought from machines are usually more expensive.

“Philip Hammond should come to the Dispatch Box in the next few days and give a clear undertaking that he is going to ditch these draconian cuts in services to passengers.”

The ticket office closures were part of a raft of possible measures put forward in the McNulty report, which aimed to make £1 billion worth of cuts in the tax payer-funded industry.

A spokesman for East Midlands Trains, which runs Boston station, said it was not possible to say whether or not the station would be closed in the future.

She added: “We have invested millions of pounds in making it easier for our customers to buy their tickets through installing new ticket vending machines and developing easier phone and online booking through the launch of our best fare finder tool. This reflects a fundamental shift in the way passengers buy tickets, with nationally only one in three tickets now purchased from station ticket offices.

“Currently, any changes to ticket office opening times have to undergo a rigorous consultation process and ensure that passengers’ needs continue to be met. We are aware of the recommendations in the McNulty report on value for money, including those around the retailing of tickets and the pre-conditions Sir Roy has proposed for any changes to the current arrangements. The Government is yet to announce how it intends to take forward Sir Roy McNulty’s recommendations.”