Great Northern ticket office plans at Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth to ‘unleash carnage’, says RMT
- Credit: Archant
Planned re-organisation of railway staff at stations such as Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth could cause ‘carnage’, a rail union says, as ticket offices are downgraded – but the franchise operator says the changes will in fact mean the stations are staffed for longer.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers has pledged to fight to defend jobs and services at stations that it says are being ‘set up to lose their ticket offices’ in a public consultation, and has prepared a postcard campaign to rally public support.
Under the plans Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth stations would have their ticket offices open at peak hours only, with ‘station hosts’ available at other times on the station concourse. Royston would also be affected.
Govia Thameslink – which runs the Great Northern service – says this would enable the stations to keep facilities such as their waiting rooms and toilets open for longer, while still helping those buying tickets.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: “We’ve hit the ground running with our campaign to stop Govia Thameslink from unleashing ticket office carnage across the routes that make up this franchise as they look to sacrifice jobs, services and safety in the drive to line their own pockets at the passengers’ expense.
“The consultation timetable is now in disarray as the plans have sparked a storm of public outrage and the union will step up the fight as the company now regroup.
“We have no intention of allowing these plans to be bulldozed through and Govia should be forced to pull the proposals in their entirety. We will be working with the travelling public to stop them in their tracks.”
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A spokesman for Govia Thameslink said: “Our plans are simply to modernise the way we operate approximately 80 of our busier stations so that these stations will be staffed for longer – in all but two cases, seven days a week from start of service until close of service.
“This will also mean that important station facilities such as toilets and waiting rooms will also be available for longer.
“Where sales from ticket office are low, we will bring staff out from the ticket office onto the concourse as station hosts, where they will be readily available to help with ticket purchasing and offer assistance to passengers – whatever their need.
“At busier stations, we will continue to staff ticket offices during the morning peaks, with station hosts available on the concourse at quieter time.
“These proposals, which reflect the changing ways in which people now buy their tickets, will shortly go through public consultation.”