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Major changes could be made to ticket offices

Transport Focus is against plans to close ticket offices Credit: ITV Meridian

Plans for major changes to ticket offices for Southern and Thameslink trains are being opposed by Transport Focus, the official Government watchdog for rail passengers.

The company that runs the trains says it wants more staff to be visible on platforms where they can also sell tickets.

Around 80 stations would be hit - including many in Sussex and Surrey.

But unions have claimed the move would be closing booking offices by the back door, and fear it would mean a worse service for passengers.

ITV Meridian spoke to Sara Nelson from Transport Focus.

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Network Rail fined £2 million after weeks of travel chaos for passengers

Network Rail is facing a fine of £2 million after passengers suffered weeks of chaos on Thameslink and Southern services and delays at London Bridge.

Independent regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) made the decision after investigations into the company's Southern, Govia Thameslink services in 2014-15.

ORR found that Network Rail had breached its licence, with significant delays and cancellations to services.

However, the rail company has the opportunity to offer reparations for affected passengers, instead of having to pay the fine.

These serious issues have caused severe disruption and frustration for passengers, most notably affecting services at and around London Bridge. The scale of the delays suffered by passengers was central to our decision to fine. The penalty sends a clear message to the Network Rail Board; Network Rail must urgently rectify these errors and deliver the reliability of services that passengers have paid for.

– ORR chief executive Richard Price

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Details of expansion on railways

A massive programme of railway upgrades has been announced in our region. The full £9.4bn programme of improvements to the rail network 'will meet the needs of intercity passengers, commuters and freight up to the end of this decade' while the Government continues to work on High Speed 2.

Schemes include electrification between Southampton and Reading; Paddington to Newbury, Banbury and Swindon; Reading to Basingstoke; Maidenhead to Marlow; Slough to Windsor. A major development at Waterloo will take longer trains from the South.

Oxford Station will have a substantial upgrade. The line from Oxford to Bletchley will be reopened.