Planned closure of Hexham Ticket Office
Proposed changes to our railways will see many ticket offices closed and reduced staffing at stations.
The proposals include closing the ticket offices at Hexham meaning that (with the additional planned closure of Carlisle booking office) the only staffed ticket office on the Tyne Valley Line will be at Newcastle. Train operators have outlined that ticket office staff will be redeployed into new customer-facing roles. In the words of the Rail Delivery Group this will “move staff out of ticket offices and onto station platforms and concourses to support better, face-to-face interactions, with the potential to close ticket offices in a number of locations“.
Northern are proposing that staff will now work in new roles outside the ticket office, where they will help people buy tickets, provide information, assistance, and travel advice. Station staffing hours will be reduced to 3.5 hours each morning Monday to Saturday at Hexham. Currently the booking office is open from 07:15-17:30.
The Government and the rail companies are refusing to say how ticket office closures will hit vulnerable rail users or impact commuters to Newcastle, Carlisle or elsewhere. These changes certainly wont lead to much-needed upgrades for the Tyne Valley’s rail service.
One in nine tickets are still sold at physical ticket offices. That represents over 150 million of the 1.4 billion rail journeys recorded over the past year.
Many of those passengers relying on ticket offices may otherwise struggle to use digital alternatives, it is vital that those users will still have access to the support they need to use our rail network with confidence. Research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has found that only 3% of people with sight loss said they could use a ticket vending machine without problems and 58% said it was impossible. Unsurprisingly, the RNIB is voicing its opposition to these plans.
We are facing a climate emergency and we need a public transportation system, including railways, that are welcoming, safe and easy to use. These proposed changes will make our train stations and rail journeys less welcoming, more difficult and especially challenging for the most vulnerable in society.
The public consultation on these changes has been extended until the 1st September. Please make your voices heard.