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Rail passengers' group slams ticket office closure plan
11:26am Monday 1st October 2012 in News
A STOURBRIDGE train passengers' group has reacted angrily to the planned closure of the Lye railway station's ticket office.
The Department of Transport has approved an application from London Midland to shut the Lye office, leaving passengers to rely on ticketing machines.
The office at Stourbridge Junction station, which is currently manned until the last train of the day, just before midnight, will see a reduction in its hours; closing at 8pm on Monday to Thursday, 10pm on Friday, 9pm on Saturday and 7pm on Sunday.
The office at Stourbridge Town station is also earmarked for a reduction - to close at 6pm instead of 11.54pm Monday to Saturday.
Stourbridge Line User Group (SLUG) chairman, Rob Hebron, said: "London Midland pre-warned us that they wanted the government to allow them to reduce staffing at their stations. We presented a strong case for maintaining staffing but the Department for Transport has ignored the passengers’ organisations. We expected a compromise not a rubber stamp.
“We have always maintained that booking office staff do more than just sell tickets. They do valuable research for customers by planning their journeys for them and finding the best offers."
"The group is particularly annoyed about the de-staffing of Lye station. Lye is a community that relies on night time trade from customers who arrive from outside the area.
"The lack of visible security at the station will deter passengers who need to make a return journey late at night”.
London Midland, who manage the stations, says some stations are open for long hours and selling very few tickets while more passengers are buying their tickets online or from vending machines.
London Midland commercial director, Richard Brooks, said: "The reductions in opening hours will be concentrated at the beginning and the end of the day or on Sundays, so most passengers will see no change at all.
"We believe that the changes strike the right balance; supporting our aim to control railway costs and continuing to meet the needs of our passengers in this challenging economic climate.”
London Midland has not given a date for the changes to come into force and says it is currently assessing the impact of the changes on the offices concerned.
They added the company would provide extra ticket vending machines at stations which do not currently have them.