Monday, August 11, 2008

Passenger Focus Press Release-Re Ticket Office's SWT

Thousands of South West Trains passengers have said a resounding no to plans to cut office opening hours across the network. Passenger Focus has consulted on the proposal by South West Trains to reduce the ticket office opening hours at 114 stations and in three weeks has received thousands of postcards, letters and email from passengers opposing plans. Ashwin Kumar, Passenger Focus director, said passengers had unanimously agreed that they wanted staff at the station for advice and assistance on ticket sales to make sure they’re getting the cheapest ticket. “We fear these plans will lead to passengers paying more for their off peak tickets than they should. Ticket vending machines are important, but while they don’t offer all ticket types or provide advice to ensure passengers get the cheapest fares, there will be a need for station staff.” The watchdog’s research has found passengers choose to use the station ticket office over the ticket vending machine for a number of reasons. These include passengers requiring advice from staff, because their ticket is unavailable, queues are too long, they are using a travel card or due to the passenger’s inability to use or dislike of ticket machines. Passengers also believe staff are important for security and to maintain facilities. In its consultation, Passenger Focus received responses from county, district and parish councils, Members of Parliament, individual passengers and rail user groups. Jocelyn Pearson, who has been leading Passenger Focus’s consultation, said: “We are not against change but when fares are so complex, passengers need advice from staff at the station. “In some cases the rail products they need are simply not available. Even where the ticket is offered, the complexity of the fare structure means passengers struggle to find the cheapest fare without advice.” Notes to editors 1. Passenger Focus’s response to South West Trains' proposals to reduce ticket office opening hours can be downloaded by following the link below:Response to South West Trains’ proposals to reduce ticket office opening hours 2. Between 14 July and 5 August Passenger Focus received over 3100 postcards and 360 letters and emails representing all stations affected. The RMT and TSSA trade unions also submitted a petition containing over 3200 signatures. While the official closing date has now passed, Passenger Focus continues to receive correspondence from passengers expressing concerns with the proposals. 3. You can view Passenger Focus’ latest National Passenger Survey results by following the link below:National Passenger Survey Spring 2008 4. Passenger Focus is the official, independent consumer organisation representing the interests of rail users nationally. Created by the Railways Act 2005, Passenger Focus is the operating name of the Rail Passengers Council. It is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Transport. We want to make a difference for rail passengers. We do this by: - providing authoritative advice for the industry based on sound research- securing improvements to rail services – both big and small-scale improvements- helping passengers with advice and information- campaigning for change and acting on passenger complaints 5. Media enquiries regarding this release should be addressed to:Krista Hamblin Press Officer 0870 336 6021/07918 626 045

No comments: