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Campaign to keep ticket offices open

20 July 2023

Passengers at Sheffield ticket office, just one of two in Yorkshire not set for immediate closure, but its future is uncertain. Photo Workers.

On 5 July train operating companies announced a 21-day statutory consultation with passengers on plans to close railway ticket offices in England. Rail workers and their unions are not taking this lying down.

The government and the Rail Delivery Group, representing the operating companies, having made the announcement, then dragged their feet in releasing details.

This makes it difficult for the RMT, other trade unions and passenger groups to mobilise their members and the public to respond within the short window for consultation.


Despite that obstacle RMT has successfully launched a Save Our Railway Ticket Offices campaign. They organised days of action on 13 and 18 July and several well-supported public rallies.

A public rally in Manchester on 19 July, an extremely wet and windy evening, was well attended with standing room only and yet more supporters listening from the corridor.

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, attended part of the meeting and had the opportunity to speak. He told the meeting that he and four other mayors – for West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Liverpool City Region and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – are opposing the closure plan.

They are taking legal action against the government on the grounds that the closures are discriminatory towards disabled people.

‘The whole working class needs to get involved.’

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, was the last speaker. He was very clear about what was needed. He said that it was great that the mayors were supporting the campaign but that politicians cannot be relied on to fight this battle, the working class as a whole needs to get involved; we have to decide what sort of country we want to live in and how we are going to make it happen. Mick Lynch got a standing ovation, which the mayor didn’t.

Since the start of the “consultation” period rail companies have informed RMT that they plan to close 1,000 ticket offices leaving very few open. Although there is talk of staff being available to help passengers, 2,000 workers will be made redundant.


And there will no longer be any staff at many stations, as the Assocation of British Commuters discovered.

This agenda has been set by the government. In effect it controls what the rail companies do – and it directly owns several of them. This highlights the weakness of the demands from some quarters for all the railway companies to be nationalised.


This plan is about the future shape of the railways, not primarily about the profits made by the operating companies – although it is ludicrous that British taxpayers’ money is going to operators owned by foreign state-owned rail companies.

This follows the government's 2021 Williams-Shapps plan. None of the seven “key promises” in that plan look likely to be fulfilled.


Railways will only provide what the population and economy need if workers, employees, and passengers, have control of its planning and management. No government, of any colour, can be trusted with that task.

Go to https://www.rmt.org.uk/campaigns/rail/save-ticket-offices/ to find out how to take part in the consultation.  Join RMT picket lines on Saturday 22 July to show your support for their defence of jobs, pay, conditions of work and the service they provide the public.