Published on: Saturday, 2 September 2023
Last updated: Saturday, 2 September 2023
The deadline for submissions under the public consultation process about proposed changes to the way tickets are sold and customer service is provided at stations, which was Friday 1 September, has now passed. The consultation is therefore now closed.
Transport Focus and London TravelWatch will review all the comments and feedback received during the consultation period and will provide recommendations to Greater Anglia (and to other train operators about their proposals) over the coming weeks.
Their advice will inform updated proposals and decisions on the plans to be taken forward, which are expected to be finalised before the end of the year.
Details of the proposals for all Greater Anglia stations involved are still available on the ticket office changes page.
Greater Anglia, along with most other train operators, is proposing changes designed to improve customer service by providing more flexible roles for staff at stations, which would provide a better service and more assistance for customers.
The proposals form part of plans to modernise the railway and bring it more in line with modern consumer expectations. They reflect significantly reduced usage of ticket offices over the past decade, as customers move to alternative, more convenient ways of buying tickets. Most tickets are now bought either online or through ticket machines.
Given those trends and a world where London Underground has already moved away from ticket offices, and other sectors have also updated their models of service away from the classic desk-based approach, it also makes commercial and financial sense for the rail industry to look at the best approach for the future to ensure customer needs and expectations continue to be met.
The industry has been consulting on the proposals, to get public input before deciding on the next steps.
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said:
“We welcome the feedback from customers and stakeholders have been providing to Transport Focus and London TravelWatch about our station proposals, during the consultation period. We were keen that the final plans were shaped by that public input. We’re grateful for all the submissions that have been made and we would like to thank everyone who has participated.
We now look forward to receiving the recommendations of Transport Focus and London TravelWatch in a few weeks’ time, which we will consider carefully and use to inform updated final plans influenced by those suggestions.”
Under the proposals which formed the basis of the consultation, staff would undertake a new, more flexible ‘customer host’ role, providing advice about the best and cheapest fares, and supporting customers with other queries and accessibility needs, rather than being confined to the ticket office.
Customers would still be able to buy tickets from the ticket machine and online (as now), and colleagues would still be available at the station to help customers at certain times. Ticketing assistance would also be available directly from staff in Greater Anglia’s Customer Contact Centre, contactable via the ticket machine (24 hours a day).
Across the Greater Anglia network, it would mean that all 54 stations which currently have ticket offices would switch to the new model of retailing.
At seven major stations – London Liverpool Street, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, Stansted Airport and Cambridge – Customer Information Centres would sell a full range of products, as well as providing help with more complex transactions.
Across the remaining 47 stations, some stations would have staff available for similar hours to today, while some would have staff available for fewer hours than today, focused on the busiest periods.
The type of approach proposed for these 47 stations is, in fact, similar to that already in place at Bury St. Edmunds and Cambridge North stations, which has proved to be successful and well received by passengers.
All Greater Anglia stations involved in the proposals already have ticket machines, which also have an assistance button enabling customers to contact Greater Anglia staff based at the Customer Contact Centre in Norwich (24 hours a day), to gain guidance or assistance with ticket purchase.
No station would become unstaffed as a consequence of the proposals and other station facilities, such as waiting rooms and toilets, would be unaffected.
Greater Anglia would continue to meet all its commitments on providing accessibility for passengers, including passengers with reduced mobility and people requiring in-person assistance. It would also create new, additional mobile assistance teams, offering greater flexibility and support in providing assistance.
To re-affirm, the key components of the proposals are as follows:
- The plans would provide a more modern and flexible service for customers
- There would still be someone to help with ticket queries and information at all the stations covered by the proposals (specific hours would vary by station) and the ability for customers to speak direct to the Greater Anglia Customer Contact Centre via the ticket machine for guidance or advice
- Passenger Assist arrangements would still apply, with additional mobile assistance teams providing extra support
- No station would become unstaffed as a consequence of the proposals and other station facilities, such as waiting rooms and toilets, would be unaffected.
The final agreed proposals are subject to the completion of the public consultation process. The submissions provided to, and then the recommendations made by, Transport Focus and London TravelWatch will inform updated proposals. Only when this process has been completed will decisions then be taken on exactly what plans are taken forward.
The consultation has been taking place specifically to inform those future plans and, whatever proposals are then formally agreed, the transition to full adoption of the new model would probably take two to three years.
Greater Anglia would like to reiterate its thanks to everyone who has provided comments or feedback to Transport Focus and London TravelWatch on the proposals, as part of the consultation process. As outlined, all the input received will inform the updated plans. Further updates and information will be provided as the process progresses.
Information about the proposals is also available in alternative accessible formats via our website (Easy Read, large print, braille, audio, and British Sign Language). Physical copies can be ordered by contacting Freepost – Greater Anglia Customer Relations, or by calling 0345 600 7245 (Option 8).
A Q&A about the proposals is available on the Rail delivery group website.
Transport Focus and London TravelWatch, as the statutory rail industry transport “watchdogs” and consumer bodies, are reviewing the feedback they have received and will provide recommendations on next steps. Their views will inform final decisions on the detailed plans to be adopted. As already mentioned, the switch to the new model of operation would be expected to take up to two to three years.