Rail station ticket offices earmarked for closure

FOUR rail station ticket offices in Comet country are on a hit list for possible closure.

Knebworth, Baldock, Arlesey, and Ashwell and Morden are four of 675 stations across the country that are earmarked for the permanent closure of their ticket offices in a Government report prepared by Sir Roy McNulty.

The news has been met with concern from commuters in the affected areas.

Gregor Campbell, of the Ashwell and Morden Rail User Group, said: “That’s going to create a problem.

“The ticket office at Ashwell is heavily used at the moment and a lot of people are not keen on the machine.

“It’s nice to have a friendly face at the station and it will be a big loss.”

He added: “The person in the ticket office used to put the salt down over winter and generally look after the station. Who’s going to do that now?”

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Mr Campbell said he would speak to other members of the rail user group with a view to making a formal complaint about the proposals.

Baldock resident Duncan Campbell said: “I cannot believe in the 21st century that a town like Baldock, with a large number of commuters to and from London, is even considered for ticket office closure.”

Stephen Hillcoat, an Arlesey resident, added: “Closing the office at Arlesey during peak times would be madness.

“The station has become busier with the development of Fairfield Park, and there is more housing planned for Arlesey.”

Gerry Doherty, leader of the union Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, called the proposal “a double whammy”, after passengers were told last month that fares would rise by 25 per cent over the next three years.

“Not only are unstaffed stations less secure, tickets bought from machines are usually more expensive,” he added.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said the findings of Sir Roy’s report will be examined as part of a Government review.

A detailed response is expected next month, when Parliament resumes after the summer break.

* What do you think? Email editorial@thecomet.net or call the newsdesk on 01438 866200.

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