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Our campaigning goes on as train ticket office consultation closes

Five people wearing pink RNIB t-shirts and holding signs protesting railway stations ticket office closures, stand outside the Department for Transport.

RNIB campaigners gather outside the Department for Transport to demand ticket offices remain open.

Consultation over the changes proposed by train operators - which could lead to the majority of ticket offices closing in England and Glasgow Central - has ended. We explain what happens next, and why we will keep speaking up about the need for ticket offices.

1,856 people recently wrote to their MP to raise their concerns about the proposed closures, using our template letters. As a result, nine out of ten MPs have heard from an RNIB campaigner on this issue, which is a fantastic achievement. People also sent letters to local newspaper editors to highlight the impact of closing ticket offices on blind and partially sighted people. All of your consultation responses, along with this other activity, will highlight just how vital ticket offices are to blind and partially sighted people. We are also hearing that many MPs share in your concerns.

Sophie Dodgeon, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “Thank you to everyone for taking part. The deep concern generated by these proposals has been reflected in the huge response we’ve had to this campaign. Blind and partially sighted people are telling us that taking away ticket offices will reduce their independence and confidence to buy a ticket and use the rail network, with many people unable to use Ticket Vending Machines and online apps because they are simply not accessible. RNIB will continue to put pressure on the Transport Secretary and Rail Minister to halt these damaging proposals.”

The consultation involved two passenger watchdogs, London TravelWatch and Transport Focus, which received consultation responses on behalf of each of the train companies. These passenger watchdogs will now review all the responses and give each train operating company a report on what has been fed back. Transport Secretary Mark Harper is likely to end up making the final decision.

RNIB marked the end of the consultation by gathering outside the Department for Transport to make our voices heard further, and demand ticket offices remain open.

While we wait for the next steps, expected in October, we hope MPs will take up opportunities to speak out against the proposals when the House of Commons resumes next week after its summer break.

RNIB will keep speaking out to challenge the Government and industry’s assertion that they’re “modernising” the railway by removing staff from ticket offices. Modernisation doesn’t just mean touchscreens and apps; it means inclusivity and not leaving anyone behind.

We’re also urging the Rail Minister Huw Merriman to meet with blind and partially sighted people at a train station where he can witness first-hand the essential assistance staff in ticket offices provide, and the risk presented by these proposals to the safety and independence of people with sight loss.

Find out what happened when we tested how easy it was to get alternative formats of the consultation information, in our news story.