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Disabled travellers rejoice after closure of train ticket offices delayed

a train ticket office

The proposed closure to train ticket offices across the country has been delayed, bringing new hope for disabled travellers.

Earlier this month ministers announced plans to close all remaining railway ticket offices within 21 days, but the date has now been extended to September 1.

Over 170,000 people expressed their views to the consultation with many airing their concerns.

The watchdog Transport Focus and the Rail Delivery Group said operators are "keen to give more people a chance to give their views on the proposals".

According to London TravelWatch the consultation has been put on hold  because "some train companies did not provide people with complete and accessible formats from the start of the consultation period".

Lord Peter Hardy, chairman of Network Rail, told the BBC the delay "really good thing for our customers" and shows that "government and the operators want to hear more from passengers".

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “While this is a matter for the industry, it is right that train operators have listened to feedback and extended their consultations, following continued engagement with stakeholders, including accessibility groups.

“Following the consultations, independent passenger bodies will continue to play a vital role in assessing and shaping proposals.”

Disabled and elderly travellers expressed how they rely on ticket offices, without them their journeys would be impossible.

The Rail Delivery Group, who aim to improve Britain’s train network, said only 12 percent of tickets are purchased at train ticket offices and the service would benefit if the staff were positioned elsewhere on the platform.

Jacqueline Starr, Rail Delivery Group chief executive, said the proposals "would mean more staff on hand to give face to face help with a much wider range of support, from journey planning, to finding the right ticket and helping those with accessibility needs".

However, Starr’s comment was challenged in a letter by disabled-led campaign group, Transport for All, which was signed by leading charities including Scope, National Autistic Society and Disability Rights UK who said closing ticket offices  would “severely curtail disabled passengers’ ability to" travel.

Caroline Stickland, CEO of Transport for All, said: "These closures will lock millions of disabled people out of the rail network, reversing years of progress to make transport more accessible, and likely violating the Equality Act on multiple counts. 

“We stand together against these discriminatory reforms, and will continue to fight for as long as it takes.” 

[ Thomas Edmondson invented the Edmondson railway ticket in the 1840s ]

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