CONTROVERSIAL plans to close rail ticket offices across Worcester and Malvern have been scrapped in a u-turn by the Government.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the government had asked train operators to withdraw their proposals because they ‘failed to meet high passenger standards’.
Stations across Worcester and Malvern were among hundreds across England ear-marked for closure, despite opposition from unions and disability groups.
Worcester Foregate Street railway station was set to become a ‘customer information centre’ while the radical changes would have been ticket office at the city’s historic Shrub Hill station closed alongside those in Great Malvern and at Malvern Link.
In a move to save money under pressure from the government, rail operators argued only 12% of tickets are now bought at station kiosks.
But the proposals drew criticism from across the political parties and from all six district councils in Worcestershire who voiced their opposition to the plans.
Announcing the decision to scrap the closures, Mr Harper said the government had made it ‘clear to the rail industry throughout the process that any resulting proposals must meet a high threshold of serving passengers’.
The RMT rail union welcomed the government’s ‘complete withdrawal’ of its ticket office closure plans in light of passenger watchdog objections as a complete victory.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch hailed the news as ‘a resounding victory’ for the union’s campaign and a ‘win for passengers, community groups and rail workers alike’.
“We are now calling for an urgent summit with the government, train operating companies, disabled and community organisations and passenger groups to agree a different route for the rail network that guarantees the future of our ticket offices and stations staff jobs to delivers a safe, secure and accessible service that puts passengers before profit,” he said.