Uncertain future for ticket office

General view of outside of March Station
General view of outside of March Station
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COMMUTERS could face having to buy their train tickets from a machine or online after it was revealed the busy March station is on a hit list of 675 proposed ticket office closures.

The proposal is buried within a report carried out by Sir Roy McNulty detailing cost savings in the transport industry.

If this is implemented, March would become an unmanned station, leaving service users no choice but to purchase tickets online or use a ticket machine.

News of the McNulty Report dismayed the Friends of March Railway Station who believe it would be the wrong thing to do.

One member said: “We just don’t like the idea. Unmanned stations can cause more vandalism and a lot of people don’t like ticket machines.”

The proposal is just one of many suggestions in the McNulty Report, which calls for £1 billion in savings to be made.

It will be up to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to decide which of these proposals will be given the green light.

A spokesperson from the Department for Transport said: “We are currently considering the findings of Sir Roy McNulty’s independent report and any of his proposed changes to rail fares or ticketing will be examined as part of a Government review.”

National Express East Anglia, which runs the station, said they are not looking to make changes to March station, but their contract runs out in February and the government will be re-letting the contract.

A spokesperson for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: “We recognise the importance of having staff at stations and understand that passengers want to talk to another human being, in particular when there is disruption.

“Currently, any changes to ticket office opening times have to undergo a rigorous consultation process and ensure that passengers’ needs continue to be met.

“The industry also needs to cut costs as a way of limiting future fare rises and providing better value for money for the taxpayer.

“Recent years have seen a fundamental shift in the way that people buy train tickets.

“There have been big increases in the use of ticket machines, rail websites and smartcards, meaning that just one in three tickets is now bought from station ticket offices.

“Given these changes it is right that we consider a range of ways to provide passengers with the service that they expect.”