Call to keep Basingstoke railway station ticket office
The Leader and Co-Leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have called on rail operators to keep Basingstoke station’s ticket office open, following a consultation about closing ticket offices across the South Western Railway and Great Western Railway networks.
In their consultation response, the council’s Leader Cllr Paul Harvey and Co-Leader Cllr Gavin James said that this change would make the rail network inaccessible to many, for example people with disabilities people or those not confident using smart phones or online services.
They also raise concerns that, in the transition away from more traditional methods, the specific requirements of some disadvantaged people may no longer be catered for, resulting in them becoming marginalised or even ignored.
Basingstoke is classified as a category one station in the proposal with 24-hour staffing, although the council leaders made the point that it is not clear how many staff would be available at all times or what the minimal level of visible staffing would be.
Leader Cllr Paul Harvey said: “This feels like another decision to dehumanise the rail network, like previous proposals to cut back on guards or other personnel. As we try to combat climate change, we need railways to provide good quality customer service to attract more people out of their cars and on to trains.
“Ticket offices are particularly important for those passengers who are visually impaired or who have dyslexia or other neurodivergent conditions. These proposals mean they would potentially have to rely on a member of staff approaching them.”
Co-Leader Cllr Gavin James said: “The need to modernise and respond to changing passenger demands and usage patterns is understood, but it is important not to ignore the needs of people who may be unfamiliar with technology or who need more specialist assistance.”
The response to the consultation acknowledged that passenger, accessibility and safety groups are being consulted and equality impact assessments are being conducted but the council leaders said that it is not clear how outcomes from this work will be integrated into the proposals.