Disability charity and RMT protest outside Northwich Station against proposed ticket office closures

A Cheshire based disability charity has joined forced with members of the RMT union in protest against the proposed closure of ticket offices in England.

Northwich is just one of a thousand stations in England which could see its ticket office close for good, with around 100 set to close in the North West alone.

The Rail Delivery Group has said that reasons for the cutback include a drop a passengers buying tickets over the counter and the rise in the use of self-service machines.

Rail Delivery Group has said that one reason for the cutback includes a drop a passengers buying tickets over the counter. Credit: ITV News

Rail firms have also said there's been an increase in people buying tickets online.

However, Lynne Turbull from charity Disability Positive says they're still a necessity.

Ms Turnbull said: "If people need assistance for example, we are not clear about how that is going to work.

"If you need a train, or any support at a station, then there's potentially not going to be anyone around to ask.

"There will be lots of people, older people for example who are not technology savvy and so it's just another barrier that will prevent people from using public transport."

The ticket office at Northwich Station is just one of a thousand which could close across England. Credit: ITV News

The Government has insisted that more help and assistance will be available on platforms.

However members of the RMT Union have said that the move will lead to job losses.

Rebecca Stokes, RMT Union Crewe branch secretary said: "There is already plans in place for redundancies across all ticket office staff.

"There is a lot of my members who are really in fear now of losing their jobs.

"It's what we do best. The face-to-face between passengers, the people that need us. It's a necessity."

Northwich Station. Credit: ITV News

The Labour MP for Weaver Vale Mike Amesbury also joined campaigners outside Northwich Station to protest and said "it's not good news".

He continued: “The proposed closure of ticket offices across England, including Northwich and Runcorn main station - in the neighbouring constituency - is not good news if you require traditional customer service because you are elderly, disabled or have special needs.

"I believe many able-bodied passengers don’t want to see our rail service dehumanised either, especially given touch screen ticketing technology doesn’t always work and the fact staff provide a sense of security and reassurance for travellers, in addition to help and advice.

Northwich ticket office is currently closed due to building works following its collapse in 2020. Credit: ITV News

Mr Amesbury added: "I and others are encouraging people to take part in the consultation to say no to ticket office closures."

Following the rail industry announcement, Tricia Williams, chief operating officer at Northern, said: “Across all business sectors the way people consume, access and purchase products and services has changed.

"Rail is no different - only 1 in 6 journeys on Northern services are purchased through a ticket office, this compares to almost half of all journeys in 2018.

"We need to modernise to meet the changing needs of our customers and we are seeking views from the public on these proposals.

“Along with the rest of the rail industry, Northern is sharing proposals on how we plan to change how we support customers at our stations.

"These proposals include the creation of a new, more visible customer facing role that will offer a wider range of support across our stations.

"This new role will mean that the traditional ticket office is no longer required at most staffed Northern stations, except for 18 at hub locations, that will have amended ticket office opening hours."

The consultation ends in less than two weeks.

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