This morning, Cumbrian MP Tim Farron led a Westminster Hall debate on controversial proposals to close ticket offices and significantly reduce the number of hours that stations are staffed.
During the debate, Tim focused on plans for local stations including:
Speaking during the debate, Tim said: “Unstaffed stations are inaccessible stations, too.
“I met William in Appleby a couple of weeks ago. He is visually impaired and cannot use the ticket machine at the station. To travel, he needs a staffed ticket office. If the changes go through, he will be able to use his local station only on the rare occasions that the “journey maker” happens to be present.
“Last month, I met volunteers at Sight Advice South Lakes in Kendal, most of whom have visual impairments. They told me the same story as William: de-staffed stations are, for them, unusable stations.
“At Grange-over-Sands, a town with a larger, older population where the station really is a lifeline for hundreds of people, the de-staffing of the station will render it inaccessible to many. Lillian and Mohammed from Levens village, who use the station regularly, tell me that because of Mohammed’s disability - he is a wheelchair user - they need a staffed station to help with such things as the ramp to get him on and off the train.”
In his response, the Rail Minister Huw Merriman indicated that, while the railway needs to modernise, proposals to significantly reduce the staffing hours at stations in Cumbria would not go ahead as they currently stand.
The Minister said: “As part of my visit across the railway this summer, I visited Appleby station.
“Crucially the Secretary of State and I have been clear that we have the expectation that no currently staffed stations will be unstaffed as a result of this reform.
“I do not expect a material reduction in the number of hours where ticketing expertise is available at stations in the manner that some have described and he has set out for the stations within his own constituency.
“I expect that by the end of the consultation process, there will be a differing design.
“When we talk about redeployment, it’s important to note that the volume of hours should be similar to what we currently have – and he will no doubt make note of those words.”