Commuters using 10 Overground Stations in Lewisham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney could find ticket offices replaced by machines as Arriva and Transport For London (TFL) plan to remove ticket booths.
Stations predicted to be affected are; Dalston Kingsland, Dalston Junction, Hackney Central, Hackney Downs, Hackney Wick, Honor Oak Park, Shadwell, Shoreditch High Street, Stamford Hill and Stoke Newington.
Arriva Rail London, who runs Transport For London’s Overground services, say they have proposed these closures “in response to the growing use of new technology, including contactless cards and mobile devices”.
The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are protesting the changes, arguing they will result in job losses.
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, told East London Lines: “Ticket offices play a crucial role at train stations. London needs to greet its passengers, visitors and tourists not with a machine, but a welcoming and friendly ticket office who can provide a full range of services.”
However, TFL told Eastlondonlines that no jobs would be lost due to the changes. A spokesperson said: “Staffing issues are separate from the ticket office consultation, no staff cuts have been arranged – just the closure of underused stations that sell less than 12 tickets per hour.”
The last time ticket office closures threatened London’s transport system was due to a cost-cutting initiative released by former Mayor Boris Johnson in February 2015. Commuters were disrupted by multiple strikes due to the closure of the ticket offices threatening 900 jobs.
The resulting action – which caused havoc on London’s roads – saw the ticket offices re-opened after a review by London Travel Watch ordered by current Mayor Sadiq Khan. The July 9 rail strike in 2015 is said to have cost London’s economy around £300m.
The London Travel Watch research revealed:
– Passengers value visible staff highly, both in terms of being able to get assistance and also feeling safe.
– increased confusion without a focal point at stations, leaving passengers unclear about how to get assistance when needed.
-Many stations have a single member of staff only, and this adds to a feeling that there is not enough supervision of the network
– stations can feel chaotic, and have no defined place to to find staff or ask for assistance
-Ticket machines need to be updated to provide a wider range of functionality
TFL said plans to close ticket offices will not be finalised until reviews into station functionality and the public consulted.