Unions welcome Passenger Focus objection to SWT ticket-office cuts Publication Date: August 11 2008 Government urged to block ‘unpopular and unjustifiable’ attack on services BRITAIN’S TWO biggest rail unions have given a warm welcome to the objection to plans by South West Trains to slash ticket-office opening times at 114 stations lodged today with the government by rail users’ watchdog Passenger Focus. RMT and TSSA joined forces over the last few weeks in a campaign to urge passengers to protest to Passenger Focus over plans that would leave dozens of stations without ticket offices all weekend, and dozens more without cover in the evenings and early mornings. Passenger Focus has the power to challenge the planned cuts and today urged the government to instruct SWT to shelve them, and it revealed today that it had received thousands of objections from passengers (link to press release below). The two unions have today also asked the Department of Transport to ensure that the company respects the wishes of its passengers, and are urging objectors to do the same. “This is a good day for passengers and rail workers alike, and Passenger Focus is to be congratulated for putting the case against cuts that are as unjustifiable as they are unpopular,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today. “At a time when passenger numbers are growing and footfall through stations is at record levels we need to see more staff on stations, not fewer, and we have written to the DfT urging it to uphold the objection lodged by Passenger Focus,” Bob Crow said. “The support for this campaign from all over SWT’s franchise area has been overwhelming, but it won’t be over until we know these plans have been abandoned,” TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty said. “It is important that objectors now to write to the DfT asking the government to respect passengers’ wishes and tell SWT that its ticket-office cuts are not on,” Gerry Doherty said. ends The Passsenger Focus press release can be found at: http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/news-and-publications/press-release.asp?dsid=1841 The Full Passenger Focus objection can be found at: http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/news-and-publications/document-search/document.asp?dsid=1839 Early Day Motion 1969 South West Trains ticket officesTabled by Alan Whitehead and signed by 23 others before the summer recess: That this House notes with extreme concern plans by South West Trains to close ticket offices and cut ticket office opening hours at 114 stations; believes that such cuts cannot be justified when these stations have seen a combined increase in passengers of nearly 27 per cent. in the last year; is further concerned that the cuts will dramatically increase the number of stations that will lose their ticket offices entirely during weekends and will leave stations unstaffed at weekends and in the evening making railway stations and passengers who use them feel less secure; believes that replacing staff with ticket machines will also reduce the quality and range of services available to passengers; and calls on South West Trains immediately to withdraw its plans.