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Tube ticket offices were closed prematurely but don't need to be reopened, says independent review by London TravelWatch

Rebecca Smith
TravelWatch's review has found
TravelWatch's review has found "significant issues" TfL needs to address (Source: Getty)

A review into the impact of Tube ticket office closures has found offices were shut prematurely.

It doesn't though, call for the reopening of ticket offices.

The independent review by travel watchdog London TravelWatch was commissioned by mayor Sadiq Khan after Tube ticket offices were closed under his predecessor Boris Johnson's tenure. The decision did not go down well with unions who organised strikes over the matter.

The report has concluded that ticket offices were closed before steps had been taken to provide decent alternative provision and made sure passengers were getting all the proper service they needed.

Read more: RMT calls for total closure of Piccadilly Line until trains are fixed

It also recommended that staff are made more accessible and more visible to passengers.

TravelWatch chair Stephen Locke said: "Our research has identified significant issues that must still be addressed, including the layout of stations, the services provided by ticket vending machines, staff training and availability, and assistance for people with disabilities."

The mayor has asked Transport for London (TfL) to draw up a plan to address the problems flagged up, to be presented at the next board meeting on 15 December.

He wants the plan to:

  • Look at whether staffing levels are appropriate across the Underground network
  • Make staff more visible and available for passengers
  • Look into a programme of ticket machine upgrades
  • Ensure that passengers can find help when it is needed

Khan said: "In my manifesto I promised to review the impact of ticket office closures under the last Mayor, and today’s report makes it clear that more has to be done to ensure passengers can get the right information and support when they need it."

He has asked TfL "urgently to present a full action plan responding to all the concerns".

Read more: London mayor Sadiq Khan confirms transport fares will be frozen until 2020

Mark Wild, managing director of London Underground, said: "We are completely focused on making the changes needed to ensure that our customers feel safe, fully supported and able to access the right assistance no matter where they are travelling on the Underground."

Some of the measures TfL will cover include changing the staff uniform, a trial of staffed information zones where passengers can go for assistance and a programme to upgrade ticket machine functionality.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union though, has already voiced its disappointment in the report's findings.

Mick Cash, RMT's general secretary, said: "While RMT welcomes the principal of having a report into the closure of Underground ticket offices, the TravelWatch document has been a big disappointment, and an opportunity missed, as it fails to tackle the crisis of understaffing on the Tube."

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