Calderdale Council has formally submitted its response to the Northern Rail public consultation, expressing its serious concerns and objecting to the proposals to close rail ticket offices around the region.
As part of proposals to change customer support at rail stations, Northern plan to close 131 ticket offices across their network, with office hours changes at a further 18 offices.
In Calderdale, this would mean the closure of the ticket offices at Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden stations. The ticket office staff would be replaced with ‘journey makers’ to assist on platforms. However, the working hours of these staff would be significantly less than the current opening hours of the ticket offices.
The Council has submitted a formal response to the public consultation, objecting to the closure proposals and raising concerns around a number of issues, including public safety and security and equality issues, such as the impact the proposals would have on elderly and disabled rail users.
The Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Jane Scullion, said:
“As a Council, we’re extremely concerned about the potential impacts of the proposals to close rail ticket offices around the country.
“In our formal response to Northern’s public consultation, we’ve strongly objected to the proposals, which would affect all of Calderdale’s staffed stations. While we appreciate that arrangements need to develop over time, we believe that the current proposals are based more on cost savings than an aim to improve customer service and this is the wrong approach.
“We are particularly concerned that the changes will disproportionately affect vulnerable or elderly residents who may need extra assistance and could face difficulties using digital methods to purchase tickets. The limited availability and working hours of proposed ‘journey makers’ may make it very difficult for older people or those with disabilities to be confident that they can travel by train independently.
“The presence of station staff is also important for safety and security reasons, both acting as a deterrent for any anti-social behaviour and providing reassurance for personal safety. Under the proposals, staff will be based at the station for fewer hours, and mostly at busier times of day when people are less likely to feel worried about their personal safety.
“As we are living in a time of climate emergency, we should be doing all we can to make public transport an attractive and viable alternative to the use of private cars. There is a particular concern that the proposals will discourage future passengers, making it harder to attract new users to the rail network and subsequently hindering our long-term ambitions for the Calder Valley line.
“We are urging rail bosses to reconsider these proposals and support a safe, accessible and inclusive public transport service for those living, working or visiting Calderdale and the wider Northern region.”