‘Platform hosts’ will give all ticket office services, say Govia Thameslink at meeting with Hitchin Rail User Group
- Credit: Archant
In the wake of a national poll ranking the rail franchise operating through Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth joint bottom in the UK, station bosses met members of a commuters’ group in Hitchin.
The agenda at the meeting between the Hitchin Rail User Group and Govia Thameslink’s customer service boss Angie Palmer on Wednesday, February 24, included the planned re-organisation of railway staff at stations, with ticket offices set to be closed outside peak hours and replaced by ‘platform hosts’ on the station concourse.
Roger Smith, chairman of the HRUG, said he thought the meeting had been productive.
“Angie confirmed that the ‘platform host’ would be able to perform all of the services currently provided by the booking office,” said Roger.
“However, on our way out after the meeting, we were button-holed by a member of the platform staff who said that they, and more particularly their unions, were unhappy, even though they had been reassured that there would be no redundancies.
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“In my mind if there will always be someone able to sell the full range of tickets it would be a distinct improvement.
“Following First Capital Connect practice, Govia already close the booking office at Hitchin for a tea break just as the evening peak is starting.
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“We also discussed timetable issues. I don’t think we’ll see any major changes before 2018.
“We reminded Angie that, when the peak hour restrictions were introduced we were promised a review, but it has never happened.”
According to station usage figures from the Office of Rail and Road, the number of passengers using Hitchin station has risen from 2,478,832 in 2010 to 3,035,692 in 2015 – a rise of 22.5 per cent.
For Stevenage it was 4,093,020 in 2010 and 4,608,984 last year.