No 'welcoming human face' if Newport ticket office closes following consultation

PUBLISHED: 08:06 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:06 12 September 2019

Newport railway station. Picture: Saffron Photo

Newport railway station. Picture: Saffron Photo

SaffronPhoto 2016

Newport's railway station ticket office is being threatened with closure after the station operator announced a public consultation regarding a series of proposed changes.

A poster placed at the station by Greater Anglia read: "It is the intention to close the existing ticket office due to the very low levels of transactions."

Elizabeth Pearl, 33, a university study assistant from Newport, commutes from Newport to Cambridge for work and used the ticket office 'often and for many years'. She said that many Joyce Frankland Academy students also use the station on a daily basis and that new housing developments are leading to an increased village population.

She said: "The staff of Newport ticket office, Andy and Kevin, are highly valued and well-liked by the community. They have for many years been here to assist passengers to plan journeys, to provide help and guidance for passengers with disabilities, to explain new technologies to elderly customers, and to update commuters on the status of the rail networks. Each person I have spoken with knows them by name and has expressed distress at news of this proposed closure. They help commuters feel valued and supported.

"The loss of the ticket office would not only deprive the community of a much valued resource, but also deprive Greater Anglia of its friendly and welcoming human face," she added."

Greater Anglia says the changes, which could come in during October, would see ticket machines replace office staff.

Speaking about the software offered as an alternative to the ticket office, Elizabeth said: "Commuters appreciate every moment of time Andy and Kevin have put into making our experience of the rail network inviting and enjoyable. A ticket machine simply does not have the capacity to replace them."

Martin Moran, Greater Anglia commercial and customer service director, said: "Ticket sales at the Newport ticket office are very low and fall below minimum sales threshold for the Department for Transport to consider an application to alter the statutory opening hours. If we decide to close the ticket office following the consultation, there will be no compulsory redundancies."

He added: "Customers will still be able to buy tickets and request assistance at the station on a recently upgraded ticket machine, which includes a 24/7 help button which connects to our Norwich call centre."

To comment on the proposed closure of the ticket office, e-mail Transport Focus at advice@transportfocus.org.uk by September 18 when the consultation ends.

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