Northumberland Conservatives have today welcomed the news that the county’s rail ticket offices will remain open.
Rail companies had wanted to shut almost all of England's 1,007 train station outlets but the plans prompted uproar from unions, charities and passenger groups.
Under the original proposals brought forward in July, ticket offices in Alnmouth, Berwick, Hexham, and Morpeth would all have been lost Today (Tuesday 31) Transport Secretary Mark Harper confirmed he had asked train operators to withdraw their proposals following a public consultation, saying they failed to reach the "high threshold of serving passengers".
Leader of Northumberland County Council Glen Sanderson said:
“I am so pleased that sense has prevailed and that the views of the public and campaigners have been listened to.
“Our rural rail networks are extremely busy, and the ticket offices play a vital role in making rail travel accessible to all, especially those people who cannot access online ticketing or use automated machines.
“Not everyone has a credit card. Not everyone has a computer. The proposals to close the ticket offices would have particularly affected the ability for those on low incomes and the elderly and the vulnerable to travel by rail. In Northumberland, we are working hard and investing heavily to re-open the Northumberland Line rail service to passengers in the south east of the county. If change is to be introduced, it should be for the better and not to the detriment of the service “
When the original plans were brought forward back in July Cllr Sanderson wrote to LNER expressing his concerns. He asked for a number of assurances around staffing, accessibility, effectiveness and communication should the proposals go ahead at the county’s stations in Berwick, Alnmouth, Hexham and Morpeth
Berwick North county councillor Catherine Seymour said:
“This is a sensational victory and common sense has prevailed.
“Well done to all those that have put strong pressure on to save our Berwick ticket office from closure as there has been a major public backlash against the proposals.”
Councillor for Morpeth Stobhill John Beynon whose ward is home to Morpeth station said:
"They said the closure proposals were part of a consultation and a lot of people were sceptical so I am glad they have stuck to their word. Plenty of people I spoke to went out of their way to make their voices heard and oppose the ticket office closure.
"In Morpeth we have recently spent a lot of money bringing our historic railway station to a first class standard so to lose the ticket office would have defied sense."