Posted by: Laura Hammond
Tue 23rd August 2022
There are no plans to close Alfreton Station’s ticket office, according to Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills.
The future of train station ticket offices across the country was thrown into doubt in May when rail union RMT revealed plans for mass closures.
The news, rightly, caused concern among members of Alfreton Town Council, which last month sought reassurance from Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills and Bolsover MP Mark Fletcher about the issue.
At the time, the council said it was “disappointed to receive a response from local MPs dismissing the town council’s concerns” about the potential closure of Alfreton Station’s ticket office.
In response to this, The Spirit of Alfreton wrote to both MPs asking for their thoughts on the issue, and have now received a response from Nigel Mills’ office stating that there are no plans to close Alfreton station’s ticket office.
The full response from Nigel Mills’ office is as follows:
Following on from speculation from Alfreton Town Council, Nigel wrote to East Midlands Railway (EMR) to clarify if the ticket office at Alfreton was closing. Nigel had confirmation at the start of this month from Laura Etheridge, the stakeholder manager at EMR, that they have no plans or proposals to close Alfreton Station ticket office or any ticket office on the EMR network.
The process for train operators to propose any changes to the opening hours of ticket offices or close ticket offices is set out in the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement. The agreement regulates what train operators do in terms of fare ticketing and retailing across the network and requires train operators to put notices at the station advising passengers of any proposals and what any changes could mean for them.
If passengers have objections, these can be raised via the passenger bodies (Transport Focus and London Travel Watch).
Applications for changes can be proposed under a Major Change process if:
- the change would represent an improvement on current arrangements in terms of quality of service and/or cost effectiveness; and
- members of the public would continue to enjoy widespread and easy access to the purchase of rail products, notwithstanding the change.
Nigel believes in making it as easy as possible for passengers across the country to travel on our railways. More broadly, rail passengers are now able to obtain a smart card or barcode tickets across almost the entire rail network.
The Transport Secretary is overhauling Britain’s railways, ending the fragmentation of the past and bringing the network under single, national leadership. As Nigel understands it, reforms will include a simplified ticketing system, as well as significant roll-outs of pay-as-you-go contactless ticketing and digital ticketing on smartphones.
Tickets will be available from a single website, ending the current confusing array of train company sites while a single compensation system in England will provide a simple system if things go wrong.
In particular, Nigel welcomes a £360m investment in London-style contactless ticketing across England, which will mean that people will automatically get charged the best fare. In total, contactless pay-as-you-go ticketing will be made available to around 700 stations in urban areas, including around 400 in the North.
Regarding Alfreton Train Station and the Access for All scheme to provide disabled access to the station, Nigel is continuing to lobby Network Rail to push for the works to start as soon as possible. Nigel has been campaigning hard on the issue and knows that the lack of disabled access affects many of his own constituents and other users of the railway.
The latest update Nigel has been given by Network Rail is that the project has recently gone through another value for money consultation in July and has now moved on to the next stage which is working on the design and considering all available options. This includes using a traditional Steel Structure or a new solution which has been trialled in other areas which uses a composite structure. This would enable the work to be completed quicker, with less disruption to travellers.
Network Rail have told Nigel that they aim to complete this exercise by the end of September with the aim to carry out the physical work in 2023. As soon as Network Rail has given Nigel an update with the planned construction programme he will share the information with residents.
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