Sally and Brian’s stories show how ticket office closures will risk the safety and independence of travellers with sight loss
RNIB is continuing to campaign against the closure of almost 1,000 ticket offices at railway stations which, if approved, will stop many blind and partially sighted people’s ability to travel independently, buy tickets and arrange assistance.
Retired nurse Sally Hayes, age 65, who was diagnosed with macular dystrophy 20 years ago, explained why the closures would cut her ability to travel. She lives alone and doesn’t drive, so she depends entirely on public transport. If a ticket office is closed, she’s unable to get the information she needs. “You feel vulnerable if there’s no one there.”
One story she shares is when an employee at a ticket office was crucial in ensuring she arrived at her destination after a train cancellation.
“She gave me lots of alternatives that made a huge difference that day. It could have been miserable if I’d been sitting for ages not knowing when my train would arrive, or if I’d taken the wrong one and got lost. But it wasn’t, because there was someone in the ticket office, and they made me feel safe.”
Brian Moore, age 74, who was diagnosed with Myopic Choroidal Neovascularization and Foster-Kennedy Syndrome a few years into his 23-year career in the railway industry, has faced challenges travelling by train. Brian retired in 2022 and shares his own recent experience as a passenger at his local station.
“I stood there a little while and nobody appeared. A lady who wasn’t a member of staff guided me to the lift, pressing the button for me. It was still a challenge once I got to the platform, as I was unable to use the disabled toilet, which needed an electronic key, and I couldn’t wait in the waiting room as that was locked too. My train was then delayed, by which point, a member of staff had thankfully arrived on shift and guided me onto it.”
The closure plan says the percentage of ticket office users has decreased as people have moved online.
RNIB’s research shows three per cent of people with sight loss can use a ticket machine without problems. Sally Hayes added: “they’re all so different from one another. When you have sight loss, trying to operate an unfamiliar display is a nightmare, and I’ve pressed the wrong button often when I’ve tried.”
Consultation on the closures has closed, but RNIB’s campaign continues. 1,856 people recently wrote to their MP to raise their concerns, using our template letters, and as a result, nine out of 10 MPs have heard from an RNIB campaigner on this issue. We won’t stop challenging this action, and we’ll keep sharing stories from our community which highlight just how damaging this decision will be.
Read more about RNIB’s continued efforts to challenge ticket office closures in this news story.
More information on what you can do, and regular updates regarding the situation can be accessed via our news.