The Rt Hon Mark Harper
Secretary of State for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
6 July 2023
Dear Secretary of State,
Closure of Luton Station Ticket Office
I am writing to express my deep concern at the proposed plan to close the Luton Station ticket office.
On 5 July, the Rail Delivery Group confirmed plans to move staff out of ticket offices and into stations, with the consultation on these significant changes to last just 21 days.
The potential closure of the Luton Station ticket office is deeply worrying to my elderly and disabled constituents, the staff employed in Luton South, and all those who rely on the support and advice provided by staff in ticket offices. The closure would impact the ability to buy tickets, plan future journeys, receive advice and assistance, and navigate the station, as well as potentially jeopardise a future redevelopment of the station.
Luton Station ticket office is situated on the upper-level bridge cut-through between Luton town centre and the High Town area. Having staff in this central identified ticket office provides passengers with confidence to know where to go to access assistance, information and advice. If staffing levels were reduced or ticket staff redeployed to ‘multifunctional roles’, this crucial point of contact would be lost.
One in nine tickets are still sold at physical ticket offices, which represents over 150 million of the 1.4 billion rail journeys recorded over the past year. Given the fact that many of those passengers relying on ticket offices will be elderly and disabled rail users that may otherwise struggle to use digital alternatives, it is vital that you offer assurances that those rail users will still have access to the support they need to use our rail network with confidence.
Luton Station has long required investment to deliver a comprehensive redevelopment. The closure of the ticket office would be considered as the government ignoring the needs of the station, allowing it to further decline and undermining the service Luton passengers receive.
Our rail network is already failing passengers in my constituency and is in desperate need of reform. Passengers in my constituency should not have to face any further disruptions to their travel plans due to your poor management of our rail networks. Closing ticket offices will only act to worsen the service provided to vulnerable passengers.
I would appreciate answers to the following questions:
- What will happen to the rail staff currently deployed in rail ticket offices in my constituency?
- What the impact of ticket office closures will be on the safety and accessibility of the rail network for disabled and elderly passengers?
- When will digital and pay as you go ticketing technology be available across the whole of the rail network?
I look forward to your response.
Rachel Hopkins MP
Member of Parliament for Luton South