Boarded up railway ticket offices will be a permanent reminder of the Government’s “vandalism” of the industry if closures go ahead, a union leader has warned.
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), said the Conservatives will pay a “heavy political price“ at the next election because of the controversial plans to close most ticket offices.
Lynch said the fact there have been more than 315,000 responses to a consultation on the closures reveals how strongly the travelling public feel about plans to “dehumanise” the rail network.
The Government and train operators say ticket office staff will be moved from behind screens on to platforms to help passengers.
But unions believe thousands of jobs will be axed, while the plans have been criticised by groups representing elderly and disabled people.
The deadline for responding to the consultation has been extended to September 1.
Lynch said: “That so many people have responded to the consultations shows that there is mass public opposition to the Government and train companies’ proposals.
“These damaging plans are not just about ticket office closures, they are a smokescreen for a widespread dehumanising of our railways.
“Our railway stations are at the heart of communities around the country and if these closures go ahead the Tories will pay a heavy political price at the next election, with boarded up ticket offices and de-staffed stations being a permanent reminder of the Government’s vandalism of our railways.
“We are urging the public to continue spreading the word about these cuts and to have their say in the consultations before September 1.”
Peter Pendle, interim general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, said “These are huge numbers showing the public is fully behind us and utterly determined to keep ticket offices open. We are calling now for further support to break the half million mark of respondents.
“The Government’s cruel and unnecessary plans to close ticket offices across England are being voted down and ministers should scrap the whole idea right now.
“Until that happens we will continue to engage with local communities, making our case that closing ticket offices will be disastrous for rail users, that this will result in job losses for our members and will restrict accessibility for vulnerable passengers.”