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City councillors oppose Government plans to close rail ticket offices in Milton Keynes

The Progressive Alliance which runs Milton Keynes City Council are opposing the Government’s plans to close local rail ticket offices in Milton Keynes.

Labour and Lib Dem Councillors will propose a motion at Full Council tonight calling for Bletchley and Wolverton ticket offices to stay open.

In July, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) that represents train operators across the UK announced that it was moving ahead with plans to close up to 1000 rail ticket offices over the next 3 years.

The Government’s proposals show that the ticket offices at Bletchley and Wolverton will close, with station staff only available at certain times throughout the day to help passengers with ticket queries.

However, leading councillors say that shutting ticket offices will disproportionately affect vulnerable customers as they could struggle to buy a ticket without assistance.

According to Age UK, 3 million elderly people in the UK do not have access to the internet, and data from the Royal National Institute for Blind People shows that only 3% of those with partial or full sight loss feel able to use ticket machines.

Councillor Paul Trendall, Liberal Democrat Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said:

“Rail ticket offices provide a vital service to residents across Milton Keynes. Not everyone is able to book online, through an app, or via a ticket machine. Customers such as the elderly, those with disabilities, and those with impaired eyesight significantly rely on the help and guidance from ticket office staff. Government plans to close the ticket offices, will mean less staff available to offer support and guidance which will make it even harder for some passengers to travel by train.”

Councillor Trendall will move the motion, asking the Chief Executive of the City Council to write to the Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper, RDG and London Northwestern Railway bosses to express the City Council’s opposition to the proposed changes.

Councillor Jennifer Wilson-Marklew, Labour Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member for Public Transport, added:

“Not only will ticket office closures lead to job losses for employees across the railway network, but there is also a danger that it will push more people to travel by car. The Government should be encouraging people to travel by train by making it accessible and comfortable for everyone as it is a greener mode of transport that plays a crucial role in tackling climate change.”

Nationally, the Government’s proposals to shut ticket offices could result in up to 2000 job losses across the network.

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