26 July consultation deadline for proposed ticket office changes approaches

Published on: Wednesday, 19 July 2023
Last updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2023

Greater Anglia is reminding anyone wishing to submit views or feedback as part of the public consultation process about proposed changes to the way tickets are sold and customer service is provided at stations that the deadline is now only a week away – Wednesday 26 July.

Any comments or feedback on the proposals should be sent to Transport Focus or, where appropriate, London TravelWatch, the statutory rail passenger watchdog organisations, which will receive and review all consultation responses, before providing recommendations on next steps.

Details of the proposals for all Greater Anglia stations involved are available on the Greater Anglia website at www.greateranglia.co.uk/consult, including the contact details for the relevant passenger watchdog in each case.

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.

Agreement has now been reached on the formal proposals on which the industry is now consulting, to get public input before deciding on the next steps.

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said:

“The station proposals are aimed at providing a more modern and flexible service for our customers. They reflect the more convenient ways in which passengers are looking to buy their tickets and check travel information.

“Station colleagues would undertake a new, more flexible role - bringing staff closer to customers. Passenger assistance arrangements would continue as they do now, from first to last trains, but with additional mobile teams to give greater flexibility in providing assistance across the network.

“More details, including information about each station covered by the proposals, can be found on our website. Any comments or feedback should be provided to Transport Focus, or where appropriate, London TravelWatch, before the end of the public consultation process on Wednesday 26 July. So anyone wishing to contribute to the consultation is encouraged to provide their comments or feedback by the deadline.”

Under the plans, 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 consultation is taking place to inform 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.

The consultation runs until Wednesday 26 July 2023 and anyone with any comments or feedback on the proposals should send their responses to Transport Focus or, where appropriate, London TravelWatch, the statutory rail passenger watchdog organisations which will receive and review all consultation responses, before providing recommendations on next steps.

Details of the proposals are available on the Greater Anglia website at www.greateranglia.co.uk/consult. The information 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).

Anyone can contribute to the consultation by contacting either Transport Focus or, where appropriate, London TravelWatch, about the proposals for their station. Details of which statutory rail watchdog to contact for each individual station can also be found on the Greater Anglia website (www.greateranglia.co.uk/consult).

Submissions must be made by the end of Wednesday 26 July 2023.

A Q&A about the proposals has been prepared by the Rail Delivery Group and is available at: http://raildeliverygroup.com/customer-focused-stations.