MACS Objection to closure of Glasgow Central’s Avanti Ticket Office

I am responding, on behalf of the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland, to object to your proposals to close the Glasgow Central ticket office. As an organisation, we cover Scottish passengers and of course they will be affected by these proposals.

Our objection is straight-forward.

There is now significant evidence to show that disabled passengers are more reliant on ticket offices than other passengers. Recent survey work by the Great British Rail Transition Team, for instance, supports this. Therefore the figures that are quoted for the % of passengers that use ticket offices will be much higher for your most vulnerable, disabled passengers. One of the reasons for this is that not all ticket machines are accessible to those with disabilities and online offerings are not always available or usable to those with disabilities.

We believe that there should be no ticket office closures proposed until all ticket machines and online sales are accessible for all disabled passengers. In addition, we believe these proposals should be withdrawn until you have fully assessed the level of usage of ticket offices by disabled passengers. We see no evidence of this in what you have published.

Glasgow Central is a major station, i imagine one of your busiest outside London, and the West Coast Main Line is one of, if not, your premier service. To close the ticket office at its terminus is outrageous. This is exactly the sort of ticket office that people go to to buy their tickets, check out their travel plans in advance etc. and, as stated, this service is more important to vulnerable disabled passengers than others.

We are aware that various noises have been made about staff being available on platform, but these commitments would have to be made in perpetuity to equal what is available now. They have not been. In addition, ticket offices have advantages for disabled passengers. Wayfinding for many disabled passengers is an issue, as initiatives at places like Bristol Temple Meads demonstrate. People know or can find out where ticket offices are. How are they meant to know where the relevant staff are? Will the relevant staff be carrying mobile induction loops to aid the hard of hearing? Of course not. The service is being significantly downgraded for disabled passengers.

The Consultation on these proposals has been constructed in a curious way so that one must respond to individual train operating companies, despite the fact that they are all proposing the same thing. Our comments apply equally to the other train operating companies, but we have responded to you because of the impact on Glasgow Central.

We also thoroughly object to the period allowed for objections- 3 weeks - which takes place entirely during the Scottish school holidays, when people take their holidays, as well as the Glasgow Fair, the traditional holiday week in Glasgow itself.

Simon Watkins
Rail Lead
Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland