Cuts to the opening hours of railway stations across Sussex including Worthing have been confirmed by rail operators.
Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs the Southern and Thameslink franchises, is proposing to close ticket offices at Falmer and Lancing with passengers instead buying their tickets from self-service machines or ‘station hosts’ located on concourses.
Meanwhile many stations will see ticket office opening hours reduced to 7-10am Monday to Friday, including those at Angerming, Barnham, Bexhill, Bognor Regis, Burgess Hill, Chichester, East Grinstead, Eastbourne, Hassocks, Horley, Horsham, Hove, Lewes, Littlehampton, Polegate, Portslade, and Shoreham.
Cralwey will be open from 8-11am, Portslade will be open from 8.55-10am, with Worthing open from 7.30-10.30am.
Meanwhile station hosts will operate during the day.
The concept will be ‘soft launched’ at a small number of stations towards the end of the summer before being rolled across all the affected locations.
GTR consulted on the plans earlier this year, which drew opposition from rail users, politicians, and unions.
According to GTR it has committed to both ensuring that ticket availability will not be reduced from current levels, and passengers do not have to wait longer than they do today to buy a ticket.
Keith Jipps, passenger service director at GTR, said: “We appreciate the assistance and views of Transport Focus and London TravelWatch and for their support for our plans going forward. We think the consultation has been a success as we’ve been able to listen to our passengers and modify our proposals to meet their needs now and in the future.
“We believe our new station hosts will be of great benefit to our passengers, providing assistance for more hours each day with the same tickets available as today.”
But while Worthing Labour welcomed the fact that GTR had listened to some of the concerns, it pointed out that the changes were still modest compared to the cuts to overall opening times across all the ticket offices.
Jim Deen, chair of Worthing Labour. said: “GTR is claiming this as a major improvement of its ‘modernisation’ plans, but for most passengers it still means a dramatic reduction in the level of service they will have access to at the stations concerned.”
He added: “Clearly GTR are still determined to reduce costs by cutting staff and with it the standard of services for passengers.
“The offices will be open at Shoreham and Worthing when the stations are at their busiest with commuters, but they are the most knowledgeable users.
“It’s the passengers outside those hours who will still lose out. They have the most need for the kind of help and advice provided by the ticket offices about the full range of tickets and services.
“They will have to hope they can get the attention of the ‘host’ on the platform or trust that they can access the ticketing they want through the machines without really knowing whether they are getting the right deal for them,”
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