Published: 11/01/2009 00:00 - Updated: 20/02/2009 01:42

Train ticket office may cut hours to 20 a week

Written byBY GHRIS GILL

Travellers heading to London from a village railway station will have to buy tickets from a platform machine if plans to cut office hours go ahead.

At least they will if First Capital Connect replace the machine that was stolen a month ago...

The rail company is proposing to slash the number of hours its office is manned at Harlington.

Its availability will come down from more than 80 hours a week to around 20 if proposals announced on Thursday are approved.

It means the station will not be manned after 10.30am on weekdays and not at all at weekends.

Liberal Democrat Mid Beds councillor Brian Golby is unhappy with the plan. He said: "This move is ill-advised, shortsighted and dangerous. There is already vandalism at the station and with no one there it will increase. People who cause this, and who already move freely between Leagrave and Harlington, will chance their arm even more.

"It will affect old age pensioners who have seen their fare reductions cut and won't even be able to buy their special tickets because you cannot get them from a machine - if we had one. It was stolen a month ago.

"And other people who get on without tickets, because of the queues at a machine or other reasons, will have to take their chance and negotiate with a revenue inspector."

A spokesman for First Capital Connect said: "This would be the first change to ticket office hours for some ten years on the Bedford route and follows a comprehensive review of all our ticket sales.

"Any change would see the ticket office remain open at peak hours of buying.

However, the exact hours are still subject to consultation with our staff, Passenger Focus and other stakeholders.

"Evidence now shows that increasing numbers of our customers prefer to use ticket machines, which can typically dispense 90 per cent of all ticket types, usually within 60 seconds."

It is understood First Capital Connect is also considering a slightly earlier closure of the Bedford office, which currently shuts at midnight on weekdays.
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