Delight in Portsmouth after railway ticket office closure u-turn

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Portsmouth politicians have responded to the government’s U-turn on ticket office closures.

Plans to axe hundreds of ticket offices nationwide were scrapped earlier this week after the government requested train operators to withdraw the proposal. The decision was met with “quiet fury” from rail bosses who said the original plans were approved by the Department for Transport (DfT). Their aim was to move staff onto platforms instead.

Councillor Steve Pitt, leader of Portsmouth City Council, welcomed the decision, saying “it’s great to see common sense prevail” and highlighted the impact such closures could have on the elderly and people with disabilities.

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Portsmouth and Southsea railway station. Portsmouth and Southsea railway station.
Portsmouth and Southsea railway station.

“We’re supposed to be developing a country that is inclusive and cares about everyone and clearly this proposal would have shown that we didn’t care about a large group of people,” he said.

“There are a lot of older people who don’t like carrying a bank card and prefer to use cash.

“There is no uniform way that the ticket machine screens are designed, some of them don’t have audio for people with impaired sight.”

Penny Mordaunt, Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, said the decision “sends a clear message” to train operators.

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She said: “Ticket office staff provide vital assistance to disabled people and to those simply trying to buy the cheapest ticket from the many options. But more than that, they provide a reassuring presence to everybody who uses the train especially early in the morning, or late at night.”

The announcement by the DfT followed a public consultation on the proposal which attracted more than 750,000 responses – 99 per cent of those opposed the closures.

Labour MP for Portsmouth South Stephen Morgan said local residents will be “hugely relieved” that the government have “scrapped their shambolic plans which would have accessibility and jobs across our railways at risk”.

“It is a shame that ministers had to waste so much time and taxpayers’ money to realise what local people and charities have been saying all along,” he said.

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“I will always stand up against cost-cutting measures that make life harder for my constituents. Passengers in Portsmouth and across the country deserve better than the chaos of this Tory Government.”