MP Sarah Champion calls for rethink on closure of ticket office at Rotherham central station

MP SARAH Champion has called for a rethink over the impending closure of the ticket office at Rotherham Central station, branding the move a “further nail in the coffin” of public transport.

The MP wrote to the Department for Transport and watchdog Transport Focus following the announcement of plans that would close dozens of ticket offices across the rail network, including those at Rotherham and Swinton.

Consultation on the move runs until July 26.

In her letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Ms Champion said: “The news will be deeply worrying to my elderly and disabled constituents, the hundreds of thousands employed in our rail industry, the staff employed in my own constituency and all those who rely on the support and advice provided by staff in ticket offices.

“These plans would be a further nail in the coffin of the feasibility of using public transport in Rotherham.

“They are bad for passengers, bad for staff and bad for public safety. “

“The Government must step in to prevent them from being implemented and to safeguard the future of ticket offices in Rotherham and across the rail network.”

Ms Champion pointed to research conducted by the Royal National Institute for the Blind which found that only three per cent of people with sight loss said they could use a vending machine without problems and 58 per cent said it was impossible.

She also questioned whether the move would actually save operators money unless staff were cut, which she opposed, pointing out tickets offices provided a place of safety for both station staff and passengers.

Rail operator Northern said it was keeping just 18 station ticket offices, with 131 to lose their facility, including Rotherham and Swinton.

Rotherham Council leader Cllr Chris Read also wrote to Jacqueline Starr, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, saying he was dismayed by the news and called for her to rethink the proposals.

“Ticket offices at railway stations serve as crucial touchpoints for passengers, offering a range of valuable services that cannot be effectively replaced by automated systems or online platforms,” he said.

“They provide personalised assistance, guidance, and support to passengers, particularly those who may have limited technical proficiency or face language barriers.

"The closure of ticket offices would disproportionately affect elderly citizens, tourists, people with disabilities, and those who rely on face-to-face interactions for their ticketing needs.

“By eliminating ticket offices, you would be sacrificing the human element that plays a vital role in providing a seamless and customer-centric experience.”

Northern said the chosen offices would be cut over an 18-month period following consultation due to end on July 26.

“Across many areas of life, the way people access services and buy products has changed,” said the rail company in a statement.

“Northern customers are no different and we need to modernise to respond to their changing needs

“As the railways adapt to evolving customer behaviour and to ensure that it can thrive in the long-term, the industry needs to modernise how rail tickets are sold.”

The company said just 12 per cent of ticket sales nationally and one in six on Northern services were made through a ticket office.

Transport Focus urged people to fill in its online consultation form, at https://www.transportfocus.org.uk/train-station-ticket-office-consultation/.