Visually impaired Droitwich councillor 'delighted' ticket offices will remain open but 'fears' fight is not over - The Droitwich Standard

Visually impaired Droitwich councillor 'delighted' ticket offices will remain open but 'fears' fight is not over

Droitwich Editorial 2nd Nov, 2023   0

A visually impaired Droitwich councillor is ‘delighted’ by the government’s decision to scrap plans to close rail station ticket offices but fears smaller stations could still be at risk.

Coun Val Humphries, a Royal National Institute for the Blind volunteer, has fought tooth and nail against the plans, protesting outside Droitwich Spa railway station, putting forward motions as a councillor to push for extensions to consultations on the closures and raising awareness of the issue.

She said she was elated on Tuesday when Transport Secretary Mark Harper revealed the government had asked train operators to withdraw their proposals because they failed to meet high passenger standards.

Coun Humphries told the Standard: “I was absolutely delighted. The ticket offices do much much more than sell tickets so I’m pleased for everyone.

“It shows the people’s power and how things can be done when everyone works together.”

The cause was extremely close to her heart because of her reliance on passenger assistance services when using the train herself.

She said without ticket offices and staff on hand it would be very difficult for stations to collaborate to ensure passengers needing assistance have a safe journey.

She added: “Travelling is stressful when you’re blind and the support alleviates that.

“Had ticket offices and passenger assistance been taken away, my independence which I have fought so hard to keep would have been lost.”

Although Coun Humphries feels the government’s u-turn ensures the longevity of ticket offices at large stations, she said she is still fearful smaller stations such as Droitwich Spa in her constituency could be at risk of closure in the future.

Rail firms rationale for the scrapped proposal was just 12 per cent of all tickets are currently sold at offices, compared to 82 per cent in the 1990s, and around half of all sales nationally were now made online.

She said: “We can’t relax completely but we can celebrate this victory.

“Because demand at ticket offices has fallen, I feel we still need to be careful.

“Station operators are always looking for ways to save money so it concerns me that smaller stations could still be at risk.

“I fear that some stations like Droitwich Spa may still lose their ticket offices in the future.”


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