Penzance ticket office is one of the many named by train operators yesterday as they started a public consultation on how tickets are sold at stations in the future.
Subject to consultation, the proposal is that ticket office staff would transition to multi-skilled roles. This would, according to GWR, allow staff to help more customers with a wider range of issues, including helping them to buy tickets, wherever they are on the station. This will, however, mean changes to how station teams are organised, and some ticket offices will close as the new roles are introduced.
Derek Thomas MP for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has campaigned rigorously to retain the ticket office at Penzance station and will continue to do so. When the threat first emerged regarding Penzance Ticket Office Derek conducted a survey in which 80% of people said they bought their tickets from Penzance ticket office, with just 16% going online and an overwhelming 97% supported Derek's campaign to keep the ticket office open. Over 60% of train users told him they used the service to visit friends and family and for leisure, with just 11% using the train for commuting.
As a result of this survey Derek wrote to Mark Hopwood Managing Director of Great Western Railway to share these findings and was given an assurance in December 2022 that the ticket office would not be closed. However, the fight is not yet won for Penzance, so once again Derek is appealing for public support to save the Penzance ticket office.
Derek Thomas MP said, "I recognise that at some stations on the GWR service closing tickets offices may be justified. This is particularly the case in stations used mainly by commuters where the vast majority of tickets are purchased online, but I know from experience that Penzance Ticket Office is different and must be preserved.'
Approximately 700 tickets are sold on average each week in Penzance, and many purchased by people who value the help ticket office staff provide when planning a journey and understanding connections. Derek believes there is a strong argument against closing the ticket office as Penzance Ticket Office serves a different demographic where 34% of tickets are sold at the station compared with just 12% at Exeter St David's.
Derek Thomas added, 'We are working so hard to increase the use of public transport over private cars and this effort will be frustrated if we make travelling by train more difficult to access due to the closure of dedicated ticket offices. This is likely to lead to fewer journeys taken from Penzance which is the opposite to what is needed by GWR and The Department for Transport.'
'GWR managers have committed to working with me. Penzance has a higher ratio of tickets sold at the station than both Exeter St David's and Plymouth - we have demonstrated the need for dedicated ticket office staff at Penzance and I expect GWR and the Transport Department to take this seriously.'
Following the news regarding GWR ticket offices Derek is asking local people to take part in the consultation to have their say.
For details of the plans for each station affected, and details of how to take part in the consultation through Transport Focus please go to the website www.GWR.com/haveyoursay
All feedback must be received by Wednesday 26 July 2023.