City Hall and Transport for London have dropped plans to close ticket offices at 51 London Overground stations, but many will have their opening hours reduced to just 2 and a half hours per day.
Plans to close the ticket offices were unveiled last year, with TfL rail boss Jon Fox claiming the take-up of Oyster and contactless payment was “creating an opportunity to improve the way stations are managed and how staff serve customers.”
However the closures were opposed by transport unions who feared they would make it harder for passengers to get the assistance they needed and a review carried out by passenger watchdog London Travelwatch recommended that 24 of the offices should remain open.
Today City Hall said Mayor Sadiq Khan would provide additional funding to enable TfL to retain all of the ticket offices, but that many would now only open between 07.30 and 10.00, with only the “busiest” retaining their current opening hours.
The Mayor’s office was unable to say how many of the ticket offices would fall into each category.
Mr Khan said: “Having listened closely to the views of passengers and to the hard-working staff working at our stations I have asked TfL to ensure that no ticket officers will be closed permanently, and the busiest ticket offices will remain open to passengers exactly as they do now.
“TfL will carry on working closely with Arriva Rail and transport staff to ensure any changes in how stations operate and the adoption of new technology truly has a beneficial impact for all the Londoners who rely on the service every day.”
Meanwhile Fox, who last year hailed the now abandoned closures, said: “We look forward to continuing to work alongside Arriva Rail London, the operator of London Overground, on these important changes and ensuring our passengers continue to benefit from a high level of customer service.”
Today’s announcement has been welcomed by TravelWatch which says “an overwhelming majority” of those who took part in its review opposed the closures.
Chair Arthur Leathley said: “Many London Overground passengers rely on the ticket office to buy their tickets and I am delighted that we have secured significant investment in ticketing and customer service as a result of our activity.”
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said: “This is a significant victory for RMT members at the front line of the London Overground service who led the campaign to stop this ticket office carnage and jacked up the political pressure to reverse the cuts.
“It proves that trade union campaigning works.
“However we remain vigilant as in our experience once a package of cuts is proposed they remain an option in the longer term. Any backsliding will result in a new blast of pressure from this trade union and our national campaign to staff our stations and retain ticket offices continues.”