BARNSLEY Council leader Sir Steve Houghton has said the government needs a ‘reality check’ – after plans to close the town’s railway ticket office were revealed.
Last week, the government opened consultation on plans to close nearly 1,000 train ticket offices across the country – including the one in Barnsley.
The move has angered unions and disability and passenger groups, who say it would affect the ability of some customers to travel independently.
It comes despite warnings the move will likely prompt more industrial action, increase crime rates and make travelling difficult for the vulnerable and elderly.
Commuters will now have to use train operators’ apps or websites to buy tickets or use the self-service machines at stations.
Coun Houghton has called on the government and rail firms to rethink their plans.
He said: “Our public transport networks are a lifeline for some of our communities.
“They’re a hot topic of discussion, usually focused on service coverage and cost.
“Now the government and rail companies are proposing to make it even harder for some people to travel by closing ticket offices across the country, including the Northern office at Barnsley station.
“The proposals are to close most of the ticket offices in railway stations across England, including six in South Yorkshire.
“Under the plans, all ticket offices in their current form would close over the next three years, but major stations would keep ticket offices as travel centre hubs.
“It’s focused on a move to online and digital bookings, but the government and rail companies need to have a reality check that not everyone can make online bookings or pay with a card.”
He’s urging residents to complete the consultation in a bid to keep the ticket office open.
“They need to make sure that the number of people they’re proposing to have as helpers in stations will be enough to deal with the large numbers of people they’re going to need to support,” he added.
“I would also like to see plans for how they’re going to stop more people from getting on trains without tickets.
“This may need more people in different roles which may be self-defeating in saving money.
“Services should absolutely modernise and respond to the changing world.
“It’s something that we do well in Barnsley, but public transport must be easier and more convenient to use, and these proposals do not support that for our local people.
“It’s important that the government and rail companies hear how this may impact your train journeys, so I urge you to voice your views on these proposals by July 28.”
There’s a number of ways residents can complete the consultation – either by post, email or an online post.
▪You can write to (stating Barnsley) – Freepost RTEH-XAGE-BYKZ, Transport Focus, PO Box 5594, Southend on Sea, SS1 9PZ
▪You can email your thoughts to ticketoffice.Northern@transportfocus.org.uk
▪You can complete the consultation online at northernrailway.co.uk/consultation-2023