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Mass closure of railway ticket offices a breach of human rights for oldest and disabled

Plans to close a thousand railway ticket offices attacks the rights of older and disabled people to travel safely and for the best value fares.


The National Pensioners’ Convention, the UK’s biggest campaign group run for and by older people, says these government-driven proposals represent serious breaches of the equality laws and must be abandoned.


In a 4,000-word submission to a public consultation on the closures being conducted by Transport Focus and London TravelWatch, the NPC lists the devastating threats posed to travellers’ safety, security and ease of access.

The NPC contends that the closure of ticket offices discriminates against older and disabled people, and breaches both the Equality Act 2010, and article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


Compiled by our Transport Working Party of retired industry experts, the submission also challenges the percentage figure being used to justify the closures. The Working Party argues that it is misleading to cite the Office of Road and Rail figure of ‘only 12%’ of tickets being bought at station ticket offices with the rest being purchased online.


Commenting on the NPC evidence, General Secretary Jan Shortt said: “The ticket office closures programme breaches every known aspect of equality under the UK laws that we all abide by – that is why the NPC submission demands that this proposal is completely abandoned.


Jan added: “It is deceitful that the closures are being justified by using a percentage to hide the real number of journeys being bought through ticket offices.


“In reality, 12% is still up to 180 million** transactions – and these actually represent considerably more journeys, as many purchases are for multiple tickets and groups of travellers. This deceit is unworthy of honourable people in power to look after its population.”


The NPC has found no evidence that the legally-required assessments into the impact of these policies on older and disabled people has been undertaken, or that “reasonable adjustments” to overcome the damaging effects of such policies have been introduced.


And huge numbers agree - just prior to the 1st September deadline for submissions to the closures consultation, approximately 470,000 objections had been lodged.


The NPC submission stresses that we ‘do not oppose transport modernisation - we just require that it be compatible with our rights.’

The suggestion that ticket offices be replaced by ticket vending machines (TVMs), and in many cases roving railway staff whose duties will include selling tickets, is completely unsuitable for those struggling with mobility problems, or unable to access and adapt to digital only ticket transactions.


Evidence shows that older people finding accessing and adapting to digital only interaction very difficult and the move away from cash purchases even more of an obstacle. Given that all GWR TVMs failed on Tuesday, 29th August, anyone who had not bought a ticket in advance, by any means, would have had to go to a ticket office.


The full NPC submission to the consultation will be published after tomorrow’s deadline for evidence (Friday, 1stSeptember) on www.npcuk.org


*Thursday, 31st August: NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt will attend Downing Street with the National Federation of the Blind UK and others (11am – 1.30 pm) and will address the Rally called by the rail union RMT (5pm-6pm) on Thursday, 31st August 2023. www.rmt.org.uk/news/events/save-our-ticket-offices-march/


**Office of Rail Regulation 2021/22 chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/media/2010/passenger-rail-usage-2021-22-q1.pdf

ENDS


Wednesday 18th October: NPC Transport Working Party Conference will be held from 11am - 3pm at St Aloysius Church Hall, 20 Phoenix Street, London, NW1 1TA, near Euston Station. Speakers – to be announced soon – will discuss issues concerning buses, trains, e-bikes and e-scooters and the equality and accessibility aspects of public transport. Tickets are £10 and include a light buffet and refreshments. To book places for the event contact info@npcuk.org by 10th September.


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