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Jobs at risk as ministers plan to allow rail bosses to close 1,000 train ticket offices across Britain, RMT warns

TORY ministers plan to allow rail industry bosses to close more than 1,000 train ticket offices across Britain, RMT warned today.

The rail union said the government has amended its guidance on changes to opening hours, paving the way for train operating companies to seek to reduce services or cut them entirely.

The move, which RMT said puts thousands of jobs at risk, will make the railway “less safe and accessible, and create a ‘muggers’ paradise’ across the network,” the union said.

Facilities staffed by workers for various operators, including Avanti West Coast, Thameslink and Northern, are now facing the axe across England, Scotland and Wales, it said. 

The union pledged to fight the “short-sighted and damaging attacks” by warning passengers and urging MPs to act. 

General secretary Mick Lynch said: “The rail industry has made no secret of its goal of closing all ticket offices, and the floodgates have now been opened for an annihilation of ticket offices across the network.

“Ticket office staff not only enhance the passenger experience but they ensure our railways are safe, secure and accessible,” he added. 

“Wholesale ticket office closures would be disastrous for passengers and leave our railway deserted. Disabled and elderly passengers will be particularly affected.

“This once more proves that the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda is a sham and that England’s rail is being downgraded, driving unnecessary social tensions between Britain’s nations.

“[It] demonstrates a political choice has been made to downgrade England’s rail users compared to Wales and Scotland.

“Make no mistake, RMT is ready to use all means at our disposal to fight any attacks on ticket offices.”

A Department for Transport spokesman claimed the industry had to be taken off “taxpayer life support” after ministers committed £16 billion of funding for passenger services during the Covid-19 pandemic, equivalent to nearly £600 per household.

“The reality is that ticket offices have seen a significant decline in use since the ’90s, yet numbers have not substantially changed since then,” he said.

“Staff will always provide face-to-face services on the railways, which can be crucial for those who need additional support and cannot, or do not want to, use contactless or mobile tickets.”

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