MP puts Greenfield ticket office closure concerns to minister

SADDLEWORTH’S MP has put concerns raised by local people about the proposed closure of the ticket office at Greenfield train station to a Government minister.

Debbie Abrahams, the Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, has said she has written to Huw Merriman, the Minister for Rail and HS2, to express the views of her constituents.

Plans to close hundreds of ticket offices were revealed in July as part of cost-cutting measures and a consultation was duly launched.

The plans will see the majority of all ticket offices close in England over three years, but some kiosks will remain open in larger stations.

Greenfield rail station

The Department for Transport has said it is about “enhancing the role of station workers and getting staff out from behind ticket office screens” and helping people on concourses and platforms.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, also said only 12 per cent of tickets are bought at ticket offices and the government feels changes need to be made to ensure the rail service can “survive”.

Since the controversial proposals were first put forward, MP Abrahams said she has written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission Chief Executive, Marcial Boo, about the impact on inequalities for disabled and older people.

In responding to the MP, Mr Boo said he shared her concerns and confirmed he had met with the Government to reiterate the requirement to prevent discrimination under equality legislation.

Ms Abrahams, who has been Saddleworth’s MP since 2011, also called on her constituents to contact her with their experiences of how the potential impact of the ticket office closures would affect them.

Debbie Abrahams MP

Following the ‘call for evidence’, the former Labour frontbencher has sent a letter to the Rail Minister urging him to keep the ticket office at Greenfield station open.

She detailed comments from constituents, one of which stated that they would be “very reassured” if there would be “someone to speak to, book tickets and advise on receiving assistance getting on and off the train and alternatives to getting off the train at Greenfield”.

They added: “I am always a bit hesitant to use ticket machines and to not have a person around should I have any difficulties would further deter me from using the train at Greenfield.”

Ms Abrahams thanked her constituents for sharing their experiences which she said has “enhanced the strength of my case to the Government”.

She added: “The ball is now in the minister’s court, he can either listen to my constituents and keep the ticket office open, or ignore them and continue to pursue this discriminatory and exclusionary policy.”

There has also been a long-running campaign to improve accessibility at Greenfield station. Passengers travelling towards Huddersfield and Leeds have no step-free access and passengers with mobility issues travelling from Manchester to Greenfield have to go via Marsden.

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