PROTESTORS have demonstrated against the possible closure of rail station ticket offices in Oxfordshire.

Across the country, almost 1,000 ticket office are believed to be at risk of closure, including Oxford, Bicester North and Didcot Parkway.

This is because the Government has amended guidance on changes to ticket office opening hours, allowing operators to cut ticket offices.

READ MORE: Bus routes set to be cut as part of service shake-up

Caroline Raine, who helped organise the protest by Oxford rail station, said: “As a rail passenger, I feel uncomfortable if there aren’t ticket office staff – a lot of people aren’t comfortable doing everything via apps.

“The last time I did a long journey, the website me gave contradictory information and I got clearer information form the staff member in an accessible way.

“There’s so many people who will be badly hit this, not just those with jobs under threat.

“We’re finding that passengers are very angry about this when we tell them and they’re extremely concerned.”

Oxford Mail: Protestors against possible cuts to the rail station ticket office in Oxford. Picture: Liam RiceProtestors against possible cuts to the rail station ticket office in Oxford. Picture: Liam Rice

Fellow protestor Pat Carmody said cuts to ticket offices will deter people from travelling by train.

He said: “What they’re trying to do is say that because of apps and people going online, that people don’t use the ticket office, but it’s an absolutely valuable service.

“There’s so many different tickets now and the people at the desk know how things work.

“This will put people off using the trains, we need more public transport in the midst of the climate crisis.

“These are people’s jobs, we’re in the middle of huge inflation.”

Oxford Mail: File photo of Oxford station. Picture: Ed NixFile photo of Oxford station. Picture: Ed Nix (Image: Ed Nix)

Liz Peretz added: “I’ve lived in Oxford for over 40 years and rely on the ticket office, I always buy my ticket from it and don’t know what I’d do without it.

“If they close things like Post Offices and ticket offices, it’s an abuse of local ordinary people who want to use the train service.”

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), ticket offices remain in the same numbers as the 1990s.

The DfT says ticket office usage declined from 34 per cent of transactions in 2012/13 to 12 per cent in 2021/22.

A DFT spokesperson said: “No final decision has been taken on ticket offices. Station staff are vital for passengers’ safety and no currently staffed station will be unstaffed as a result of any reform.

“The reality is ticket offices have seen a significant decline in use over the last decade, and staff could be better directed to where customers need them most and helping passengers feel more safe.

“Passengers will always benefit from face to face assistance at train stations, and by making station staff more adaptable we will have a better railway for passengers and taxpayers.”

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

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