In the House of Commons on Thursday 12 January Teresa once again pressed Rail Minister Theresa Villiers to reject the proposals in the McNulty Report to close staffed ticket offices across the country. Under the McNulty plans both Erith and Belvedere stations will have their ticket offices closed.
Teresa also used the opportunity to highlight the lack of step-free access at Erith station, which makes it difficult for disabled people to get to London. She told the Minister that unstaffed stations would make travelling even more difficult for disabled passengers:
Teresa Pearce: Whether her Department has conducted an impact assessment of the proposal in the McNulty report on closure of ticket offices.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mrs Theresa Villiers): No impact assessment has been conducted of this proposal in the independent report undertaken by Sir Roy McNulty.
Teresa Pearce: Disabled people in my constituency already have trouble accessing work and leisure opportunities in London because Erith station’s London-bound platform has no disabled lift or step-free access. They are advised by the train operating company to travel in the opposite direction for 15 minutes and then change trains. The closure of the ticket office at Erith will further disadvantage this group of people. Will the Minister consider an equality impact assessment on the proposal and reject McNulty’s plans to close ticket offices, particularly at places such as Erith, where disabled people already face a difficult journey?
Mrs Villiers: In considering the recommendations of the independent McNulty report and before any decision was made on changes to future ticket office rules, it would of course be vital carefully to assess the needs of disabled communities and pensioners. That would be a very important part of any decisions made on future reform of ticket offices.
Teresa also discovered this week that Government does not know how many people are employed at different railways stations, nor do they have plans to collect this information. Cutting thousands of station staff, as McNulty recommends, would have a severe impact on jobs, passenger services and safety. So it is a worry that the Government does not know how many staff currently work in each train station category.