Petitions oppose ‘crazy’ plans to close or downgrade Sussex railway stations’ ticket offices

Lancing Railway Station is one of those  that could lose its ticket office

Lancing Railway Station is one of those that could lose its ticket office

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At least three online petitions have been set up opposing ‘crazy’ plans to close or downgrade Sussex railway stations’ ticket offices.

Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates both Thameslink and Southern franchises, is proposing to reduce opening hours at a number of locations, but argued that affected stations would be staffed for longer as a result of bringing some of its staff from behind windows.

Stations at Lancing and Shoreham-by-Sea would lose their ticket offices with ticket selling relocated on to a ‘station hosting point’ on the concourse.

Meanwhile stations at Angmering, Barnham, Bexhill, Bognor Regis, Burgess Hill, Chichester, Crawley, Eastbourne, Hassocks, Horsham, Hove, Littlehampton, Lewes, Polegate, Portslade, and Worthing, would keep their ticket offices open at peak times, but during off-peak times they would be closed and ‘station hosts’ would operate instead.

Two petitions started by members of the public have reached 393 and 321 signatures respectively, while , MP for East Worthing and Shoreham relating to changes at Worthing, Lancing and Shoreham-by-Sea, has been backed by 2,239 people.

In his newsletter to residents, Mr Loughton called the plans ‘crazy’ and said that in light of recent complaints about poor reliability and puncuality of Southern services ‘this is just adding insult to injury’.

Meanwhile the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Worker (RMT), which has been campaigning against the proposals, is urging people to send objections to Transport Focus directly before the consultation closes on March 13.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, called proposals a ‘disgrace’ and said that Govia should be forced to drop them entirely.

He added: “RMT will be jacking up the campaign of opposition to these bodged and rushed plans and we will be working with the travelling public to stop them in their tracks.”

Last month A spokesman for GTR said: “We want to modernise the way we operate approximately 80 of our busier stations across Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink for the benefit of passengers, many of whom now buy their tickets online, or use Oyster, contactless and smartcards.

“Where sales from ticket offices are low, we want to bring staff out from behind the windows and on to the concourse to work where they’re needed most, as station hosts, providing assistance and helping sell tickets from ticket machines and their own handheld devices.

“All the affected stations will be staffed for longer as a result – at all but two they would be staffed from the very first train of the day to the very last, seven days a week.

“This will drive other customer benefits – we’ll also be able to increase the opening hours of facilities passengers have told us are important, such as waiting rooms, toilets and lifts.”

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