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Ticket office closures scrapped!

It has been announced that the proposed closure of ticket offices will not take place.
In a survey concerning the proposed closure of railway ticket offices carried out between 5th July and 1st September 2023, 750,000 responses were sent in to the survey,
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “The consultation on ticket offices has now ended, with the Government making clear to the rail industry throughout the process that any resulting proposals must meet a high threshold of serving passengers.
“We have engaged with accessibility groups throughout this process and listened carefully to passengers as well as my colleagues in Parliament. The proposals that have resulted from this process do not meet the high thresholds set by Ministers, and so the Government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals."

In August the Vice-Chair of the Brentwood Bus & Rail Users Association, Hugh Gorton, wrote to the Minister for Transport, Huw Merriman, as follows:
It is quite clear that the proposal to close most station ticket offices is being driven by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Train Operating Companies (TOCs). It amounts to nothing less than a second Beeching Plan. It would appear that the DfT's only concern is to save money when it should be to encourage more people to travel by train. This should a be Government priority if we are to have any hope in limiting Global Heating to 1.5 o C above pre-industrial levels. The Government committed to this and reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at COP26. This summer has seen record temperatures and devastating forest fires in Greece, Spain, Canada and elsewhere. The DfT should be working flat out to achieve the Government’s Climate Change objectives. However, the DfT’s proposal to close most ticket offices will have the opposite effect by making rail travel more difficult.
The TOCs try to justify closing ticket offices by claiming that only 12 percent of tickets are now bought at ticket offices, the majority being purchased online or from ticket machines. This is, of course, an average figure with many rural stations selling a far higher percentage at the ticket office, for example, 39 percent at Appleby on the Settle to Carlisle line.
Closing ticket offices will make life a lot harder for those who cannot or prefer not to use the internet. This includes the disabled, the blind or partially sight and the elderly. These people often cannot drive so the train is their only choice for travel. With a friendly clerk in a ticket office they have someone readily accessible to help with their travel needs. Someone who can not only sell them the cheapest ticket for their journey but also advise of the time of the train, which platform it goes from and whether they need to change en route. Having to use a ticket machine offers none of these extra services. Ticket machines are often exposed to the elements: screens get wet with rain or they are virtually unreadable in bright sunlight, making them impossible to use on occasions. Infrequent travellers will not be familiar with the layout and sequence of the screens and will be deterred from using them and so less likely to travel by train.
The promise to transfer staff to the platforms seems far fetched. Will they be expected to wander up and down often deserted platforms in all weathers? Will they have ticket machines to issue tickets? I suspect not. I guess their main function will be to direct would-be passengers to the ticket machine and possibly help there if a customer is taking an inordinate length of time to complete their purchase.
Most importantly, the DfT and TOCs would appear to be breaking the law with the current consultation period. The 2005 Railways Act (Part 4 Section 29) requires the 'national authority', i.e. the DfT, to consult on such matters for at least 12 weeks. The original consultation period was a derisory three weeks, now extended to eight weeks, but this still does not appear to comply with the requirements of the Act.
Greater Anglia are proposing closing the ticket office at the busiest station in the Borough, Shenfield. This is the junction for the Southend branch with most trains on both the main line and the branch calling here. It is also the Essex terminus of the Elizabeth Line. It is very busy with commuters, shoppers, school students and leisure travellers. It currently has three ticket windows and three ticket machines. To have this reduced to just the three machines will lead to queues and crowding in the small ticket hall.
Ingatestone also has a station on the Greater Anglia main line with a half-hourly service to London Liverpool Street and to Colchester. The station is heavily used by commuters, shoppers and students attending the Anglo-European School in the village. Greater Anglia are proposing to close the ticket office which is currently open from 0600 to 1940 Mondays to Fridays, 0600 to 1245 Saturdays and 0730 to 1530 on Sundays. The station only has one ticket machine which is outside and exposed to the elements. They state that the station would remain staffed but only until 1250. There could be no staff present when the hundreds of students, who get the train, descend on the station between 1500 and 1600. This would be a major safety hazard.
Hundreds of new homes are planned for Ingatestone, Mountnessing and Shenfield over the next few years in the Council’s Local Plan. This will lead to extra pressure on our local stations and require more provision for the sale of tickets.
These are just two local examples of how the mass closing of ticket offices will affect passengers. Other TOCs are planning even more drastic cuts. For example, Avanti West Coast, is planning on closing all its ticket windows so you won’t be able to buy a ticket from Euston to Manchester from a readily accessible person. I cannot imagine such a ridiculous state of affairs being allowed to happen in a country, such as Germany or Switzerland, where the government truly values its rail network, and realises how important having an efficient railway, accessible to all, is to both its economy and in fighting Climate Change by reducing the number of carbon emitting vehicles on its roads.
I would ask the DfT and the TOCs to seriously reconsider these far-reaching proposals, which will be devastating to less able rail passengers, and keep the majority of station ticket offices open throughout most of the day.

Travelcard saved!

The one day rail travelcard which was to be withdrawn has been saved, and will continue to be issued.

Claire Jones, a BBARUA committee member, had contacted TFL .
She received this initial response:
Thank you for your correspondence to the Mayor of London regarding use of the Disabled Person's Railcard in London.
You can get your Disabled Persons Railcard discount loaded onto your Oyster card to save 1/3 on single peak or off-peak pay as you go fares on London Underground and Docklands Light Railway services in London.
You will need to have registered your Oyster in your name to do this. Simply take your Oyster card and a valid Disabled Persons Railcard to a London Underground station and ask a member of staff to set the discount for you. You can also get the discount set at Oyster Ticket Stops and Visitor Centres.
You can find Oyster Ticket Stop locations here:

Claire asked how two people would get discount if payment was dependent on the use of an Oyster card or contactless bank card and got this response:
Thank you for your further email today asking about when paper tickets are phased out.
I’m guessing you are referring to the withdrawal of the Travelcard agreement.
To help meet the conditions of our funding agreement we are continuing to progress separate proposals to generate additional income, including withdrawing from the Travelcard Agreement.
However this would require the support of Government and the Train Operating Companies due to the impact on Travelcard customers in London, especially for those travelling from outside London where pay as you go is not available.
A decision on the matter will be accompanied by an Equality Impact Assessment looking at the impact of the withdrawal on different passenger groups.
TfL is in the process of contacting stakeholders to help inform this work.

Petition for a lift at Brentwood Station platform 4

The Brentwood Access Group have a petition on the website. They are calling for the Mayor of London to make funds available for a lift .
They point out that the Elizabeth Line map shows the station as accessible for wheelchair use whereas "the only ways off platform 4 to reach the bus stops are (1) climb a steep flight 30 concrete steps or (2) walk up a long steep slope, dodging taxis, then risk a hairpin turn up an uneven 4’’ plus kerb at a busy road junction. this route is unsuitable for anybody who is elderly or has mobility or visual impairment or with children. It cannot ever be safely traversed in a wheelchair."
Click here for the platform 4 lift petition web page and please sign.

Elizabeth Line

Elizabeth Line map
Shenfield to Heathrow From 21st May 2023 a train service is running from Shenfield to Heathrow Links Geoff Marshall, "I rode the Elizabeth Line"
Modern Railways: "a Preview of London’s New Railway"
TfL have published a video (link) about the Elizabeth Line
Crossrail fares in use now see video
TfL video (September 2021)
Geoff Marshall, "The Elizabeth line is Opening - Your Questions Answered"
Jago Hazzard - the Elizabeth Line is open
Geoff Marshall, Secrets of the Elizabeth Line
Link to TfL

The Abbey Wood to Paddington section opened to passengers on 24 May 2022.
Petition for a lift at Brentwood station platform 4

From Greater Anglia (Fri, 30th June 2023):

Subject: Greater Anglia stakeholder update No 168
Dear all
Here’s this week’s stakeholder update from Greater Anglia (GA), with information on performance, details of service alterations due to action short of a strike, and other recent developments (including our latest Customer Report).

It’s generally been a very good week for performance, with punctuality averaging 94.7% across our network.

Industrial relations update
We can now confirm details of the service alterations caused by the action short of a strike called by the ASLEF trade union for the period from Monday 3 July to Saturday 8 July (inclusive). Although a normal timetable will be in operation and the vast majority of services will run as usual, there will be some cancellations (as set out in the attached document , 3-7 July) and details for 8-9 July.
Just a reminder that the RMT have announced strikes for Thursday 20 July, Saturday 22 July and Saturday 29 July. Details will be confirmed nearer the time, but it is likely that most services will operate with trains running on most Greater Anglia routes between 07.00 and 2300, with all last trains reaching their destination by 23.00. Some routes will have a reduced frequency, but many routes will have a normal or near normal service during the hours that trains are running. However, there may be a small number of routes where no services are able to run.
We will keep you updated on any further developments (including any further industrial action or positive progress).

Other developments
Other recent developments across our network include :
We’ve expanded the availability of our Duo ticket scheme where, when two adults travel together, the second passenger receives 50% off their fare. The first Duo tickets were introduced for a small number of journeys as a trial in 2012 and have gradually been extended to more routes. After this latest expansion, they are now available on most rural routes on the Greater Anglia network, including many key day-trip destinations. Passengers are now able to make great savings on more rural journeys, including local trips between Norwich and Great Yarmouth/Lowestoft and between Ipswich and Felixstowe/Lowestoft. Duo tickets are now available on over 200 journeys that include (amongst others) Norwich to Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft to Norwich, Ipswich to Felixstowe and Bury St Edmunds to Ipswich, in addition to a number of journeys between London and Cambridge and between London and Manningtree/Harwich.
Celebrations to mark 125 years since the opening of the former Felixstowe rail station building will take place tomorrow (Saturday 1 July). Working together, Felixstowe Travel Watch, the Felixstowe Society, the Orwell Hotel, the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership and Greater Anglia will mark the occasion with a series of events. The Mayor of Felixstowe, Cllr Seamus Bennett, will welcome a group of Brownies arriving from Derby Road (Ipswich) at 10.24 on a “Seaside Bucket and Spade” train and then tour the public exhibition about the history of the station in the original 1898 Town station building, before going on to join the celebrations taking place at the Orwell Hotel. The Brownies’ day at the seaside will include a scavenger hunt and sandcastle competition, facilitated by the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership. All events at the station and Orwell Hotel are open to the public. There is also the chance to win one of 10 free rail tickets for a trip on the line as we’ve launched a competition on social media linked to the anniversary. The winners will be picked at random and announced on 3rd July. Alan Neville, our Customer and Community Engagement Manager, said: “This wonderful Victorian building is still serving the town after 125 years, while our brand-new trains are providing a high-quality service for rail travellers in 2023 - connecting people to work, social and leisure opportunities from today’s station, which still uses the western end of one of the original station platforms. We are grateful for the ongoing support of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, Felixstowe Travel Watch, our station adopter volunteers Richard and Jenny Holland, and other local partners in ensuring a bright future for the line.”

And finally……..
Our latest Customer Report, which covers Autumn/Winter 2022/2023 (and specifically the period from 18 September 2022 to 31 March 2023), is now available(here). Thanks, as usual, to colleagues at Greater Anglia for providing a good service for our customers and communities across East Anglia again this week, with the usual valuable support from colleagues at Network Rail, Stadler, Alstom and our other rail industry partners.
Have a good weekend.
Kind regards
Jonathan Denby
Head of Corporate Affairs

T: +44 (0) 7767 644267

Greater Anglia
11th Floor
One Stratford Place
Montfichet Road
E20 1EJ

Current train timetables and information.

New Greater Anglia timetable changes

Greater Anglia trains have made some changes (see website) to the timetable from 7th February 2022.
They are adding more services to their weekday timetable and the weekend timetable will remain unchanged.

Brentwood station closing early

The BBARUA Rail Officer, Richard Enever, wrote to TfL customer services early in 2021 objecting to cuts in Brentwood Station ticket office opening hours and TfL agreed to a review by the management team after 17th May 2021.
The station ticket office was to be open all day except for a lunch break of 40 minutes.
Recently platform 4 exit to Alexandra Road has been closed at 11pm as there are no staff at that time, meaning that wheelchair users and others with restricted mobility are unable to leave the platform as there is no lift from the platform.
The staffing of the entrance hall at Warley Hill has been unpredictable.
Richard has again written to Transport for London asking for action to be taken.
Richard is compiling a list of times that the barriers have been closed when they were supposed to be open. If you have found the barriers closed, please contact Richard on 01277 229899 and let him know the date and time that it occurred - thanks.

Lift to platforms 2&3 now working

15/7/21 The lift to platform 2&3 was out of order earlier today but has now been repaired.

Senior Citzens Railcard

Senior Citizens railcards are now available from the Brentwood rail station ticket office.

Reopening of entrance/exit to platform 4 and new help point

The level access entrance to platform 4 at Brentwood Rail Station is now open all day.
Members of BBARUA had noticed that the gate was closed and found that it was only open around the morning and evening rush hours.
BBARUA contacted Jim Hoare of the Brentwood Access Group who in turn contacted MTR who are responsible for running the station.
MTR reopened the gate on 23 July 2020.
A new help point has been installed between platforms 2 and 3.

TfL’s Brentwood Station Help Point U-turn

Transport for London has agreed to locate a help point on platform four at Brentwood station, reversing its earlier view that one on a footbridge at the top of a steep flight of steps was sufficient.
The Brentwood Bus and Rail Users’ Association has been campaigning for the help point to be reinstated on the Shenfield-bound platform for several months and had received a blank refusal until it wrote earlier this autumn to TfL Commissioner Mike Brown.
Now TfL is to install a temporary help point close to the barriers on platform four in the next few days, and has committed to providing a permanent one within the next three months. The temporary point will remain in place until then.
BBARUA Vice-Chair Cllr David Jobbins said: “This is great news for all rail travellers using Brentwood station but especially for those with mobility issues, or unable to tackle a flight of steps to the help point on the footbridge.
“Other platforms had a help point and it is unfortunate that platform four, which lacks a passenger lift to the footbridge and ticket office, was without one. Now users will be able to obtain information about services and summon assistance if they feel threatened or vulnerable. In particular, travellers with disabilities will be able to obtain help without having to make a lengthy trek to the booking hall via Station Parade and Kings Road.
“We know that the platform barrier is often not staffed in the evenings after the ticket office closes and TfL personnel cannot be everywhere on the station. But it is at night that travellers are rightly concerned that they may encounter issues, while people with disabilities are completely cut off from any way of seeking help because of the stairs.
“Welcome though this news from TfL is, the BBARUA will continue to campaign with Brentwood Access Group and others for a lift on platform four so that all passengers can reach the ticket office and other platforms without undue difficulty.”
Currently 97 stations are scheduled for projects to improve access and the Department for Transport said in April that these would be completed by March 2024. Brentwood was not on the list, despite originally being due to have a lift on platform four when lifts were installed on the other two platforms some years ago. In July the government announced a £20 million fund to improve stations for people with disabilities but it covers minor works and not projects such as the lift installation at Brentwood, which has proved more costly than anticipated.