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Ticket office closures a ‘national scandal’

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

The mass closure of rail ticket offices is the ‘biggest threat to accessibility in a generation’ a former government transport adviser will tell the NPC Transport Conference (tomorrow, Wed, 18th Oct).


Matthew Smith, ex-UK government transport accessibility expert, and now director at Rail Accessibility Ltd, says the closures programme is a ‘National scandal’ – but warns that the worst may yet be to come.

The National Pensioners’ Convention Transport Conference will hear from both Mr Smith, and Emily Yates, co-founder of the Association of British Commuters (ABC), about the disastrous impact of our declining rail and bus services on our oldest and most vulnerable.


Matthew Smith, Rail Accessibility Ltd., will tell delegates: “The ticket office closure programme is a national scandal that discriminates against and excludes disabled and older people from work, education, leisure, health, and social and public life. The worst could be yet to come, with serious concerns about mass de-staffing. This is the biggest threat to rail accessibility in a generation and it is an affront that, in 2023, disabled and older people’s rights are still up for debate.”


Emily Yates, Association of British Commuters co-founder and an equality and human rights researcher, will say it is vital, with a General Election approaching, that the public demand a new national, whole-system transport strategy from the government to fix the broken promises of ‘Great British Railways’ and the ‘The National Bus Strategy.’


Emily Yates: “Britain’s public transport policies are causing an escalating human rights crisis, across both bus and rail. The government has been rightfully disgraced this year over ticket office closures, but there are even bigger dangers ahead, including plans to cut rail staffing by stealth, and the continuing decimation of rural bus services. With the General Election fast approaching, it’s vital to expose what’s really going on behind the scenes and make urgent demands for new national strategies across bus and rail.”


Ticket office closures a ‘national scandal’ that discriminates against oldest & disabled


Experts will describe how changes and failures in our public transport system disadvantages those who rely upon it most – older and disabled people. The event will also examine the dangers posed to them by the increasing number of e-scooters on our roads. (Full programme below).


The NPC believes closing rail ticket offices and removing station staff will be a huge blow to those with mobility issues who require assistance to safely board or leave trains. We campaign on the basis that it is an accepted and well-researched fact that older and vulnerable people value the presence of staff above all else for their safety and confidence to travel.


Our conference speakers also include: Fran Postlethwaite, NPC and the Campaign for Better Buses; and Les McDowell, NPC Transport Working Party. The event will be chaired by Derrick Baker, Chair of the NPC Transport WP.


*NB: Matthew Smith, Rail Accessibility Ltd., has extensive experience as a rail accessibility specialist, identifying and delivering improvements to enable disabled and older people to travel on an equal basis with others.


He set up Rail Accessibility Ltd in 2010, following years of experience as a train operating company accessibility manager and transport planner. From 2017-2022 he was a member of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC), the government’s statutory advisors on disability and transport, where he took a leading role in delivering evidence-based advice. He is currently Vice-Chair of the Access and Inclusion Forum Committee of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT).


NB: Emily Yates, co-founder of the Association of British Commuters (ABC), a grassroots campaign fighting for equality in public transport since 2016. ABC focuses on social justice and the ‘right to travel’, including rail accessibility, bus service provision and fare reform. It has been calling for the intervention of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in railway de-staffing since August 2022, with the support of the NPC.


*The NPC Transport Conference will be held on Wednesday 18th October, from 10.30am - 3pm at St Aloysius Church Hall, 20 Phoenix Street, London, NW1 1TA, near Euston Station.


Download the press release

NEWS - NPC Transport Conference 18 Oct - Press Reminder
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National Pensioners Convention Transport Conference Programme

10.30am – 3pm, Wednesday, 18th October 2023

St. Aloysius Church Hall, 20 Phoenix Street, London NW1 1TA (near Euston Station)

10.30 – RECEPTION – Registration, teas, and coffee.


11.00 – Opening Session & Welcome


Rail Services‘The National Crisis Threatening Our Human Rights’

Chair: Derrick Baker, NPC Transport Working Party

Speakers: Emily Yates, Association of British Commuters

Matthew Smith, Rail Accessibility.


12.30 - LUNCH


13.15 – Bus Services – ‘A Lifeline Service in Crisis & the Need for Better Buses’

Chair: Derrick Baker, NPC Transport Working Party

Speaker - Fran Postlethwaite - ‘Campaigning to win the bus services we need’


14.15 - E-Scooters - ‘Time to put the brakes on?’

Chair: Derrick Baker, NPC Transport Working Party

Speaker: Les McDowell, NPC Transport Working Party - ‘The issues and the critical need for solutions’


14.40 - NPC Transport Action Plan

Chair: Derrick Baker, NPC Transport Working Party

Speaker: Jan Shortt, General Secretary, NPC - 'Time for a national plan to ensure older, vulnerable people can access safe, regular, and affordable travel’


15.00 – Conference ENDS

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Terry Leroy
Terry Leroy
Oct 19, 2023

Look for any information regarding free days or spacebar clicker days

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