Today the Transport Salaried Staff's Association, a transport workers' union, announced that 675 rail station ticket offices will be closed. These offices will be replaced by ticket machines.
According to the press release ,
"Buried in the small print of the [several hundred pages long] McNulty Report, it shows that one in four stations in England and Wales will lose their ticket offices if Transport Secretary Philip Hammond green lights the report this autumn."
Hammond has indicated his support for the McNulty Report. His full reaction is forthcoming when MPs return from summer cruises. Of the 675 offices to be closed, 265 are in London and the South East, reportedly the area worst affected. A full list of stations affected and more detailed information is also available online .
So what can we do? Well TSSA is running a campaign called "SOS-Save our Station ticket offices" which "will tour the party conferences over the next four week urging MPs to save local ticket offices in their constituencies." So there's a union-based campaign to get involved with.
Also on a practical level, we can all try to use staffed offices instead of machines as much as possible - when buying travel tickets, withdrawing cash or making an enquiry at a bank, or any other of the millions of ways in which we choose a convenient mechanised service over working class solidarity. Of course this route is not always possible but flooding the staffed offices with work and insisting on speaking to a real person instead of a machine strongarms these companies into hiring extra staff to make up the workload.
It barely needs to be pointed out, but a cut in services timed with a rise in fares is yet more evidence that we are blindingly obviously NOT all in this together. This is just part of a wider trend that companies will happily use workers and service-users to reap private profit in profitable times, and use them to offset their losses in loss-making times.
An example I'm all too familiar with is airlines cancelling flights and reallocating tickets already sold onto nearby flights, leaving customers to sort themselves out for an extra night somewhere, or have to cut short their time before a flight. Thus companies cut their losses by only running 2 out of every 3 flights scheduled without having to refund any money, and offset the problems of hasty rescheduling of flights off onto your average holidaymaker.
Solidarity with all fighting austerity.