Hundreds gather at demonstration against rail ticket office closures


Hundreds gathered outside Downing Street as part of a demonstration against plans to close ticket offices in railway stations on Thursday.

A demonstration outside Downing Street, organised by RMT union, took place on the eve of the final day of consultations on controversial plans to close ticket offices in railway stations.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch called the fight to stop the closure of ticket offices at railway stations a “fight for the future of our communities” while speaking to the crowd on Thursday evening.

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More than 460,000 people have responded to the proposals, and London TravelWatch and Transport Focus will assess the response to the consultation after it ends on Friday.

Addressing the crowd, Mr Lynch said: “It’s a fight for the future of our communities.

“People up and down this country are sick and tired of their communities being hollowed out. Our Post Offices are being closed, our pubs are being closed. Our banks have withdrawn from the High Street. Everywhere we go, all the community assets are being hollowed out in the name of profit, in the name of modernisation.”

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Mr Lynch added that the trade union members will “stand up for themselves”.

“We’re going to stand up for ourselves, not rely on the professional politicians, and the shysters,” he said. “Let’s have a working class movement that serves our interests that serves our people are waiting for our class solidarity.”

“Let’s get in before the rain comes,” he concluded. “There’s a storm coming, make sure the Tories feel it.”

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Rail unions and passenger groups have warned the closures would particularly affect disabled and elderly passengers.

While companies say many offices sell few tickets because of increasing online sales, and argue that moving staff from ticket offices on to station concourses will offer more help for passengers.

Damien Frettsome, 36, from Hinckley, Leicestershire, said that a “huge portion” of people would be excluded from using the railway if ticket offices were closed.

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“A huge portion of society, and different groups, wouldn’t be able to use the railway, or would have issues using the railway,” he said.

Londoner Elaine Bromon said that closing ticket offices was the “thin edge of the wedge”.

“I passionately believe in hanging onto the ticket offices for loads of reasons,” she said. “I’m a Londoner, I live here, I watch people who can’t speak English grappling with the ticket offices. There’s people with disabilities… you’ve only got to leave your glasses at home and you can’t see the automated ticket office.

“To me it’s the thin edge of the wedge. I think this will go and then cash will go. It’s just one thing after another.”

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