Station ticket office closures: Campaigners fighting to save Cross Gates Station ticket office prepare to stage protest
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The station was among almost 1,000 ticket offices said to be at risk of closure earlier this year after the Government changed its guidance to rail operators around the opening hours of ticket offices. According to the RMT union, this change could pave the way for closures, thousands of job losses and a lesser service for rail users.
Local campaigners will join members of Unite Community, Disabled People Against Cuts (Leeds) and the RMT on Saturday to make the case for retaining the ticket office at Cross Gates Station and drum up further support.
They say any closure will create serious problems for disabled people, older people and visitors to the UK whose first language is not English as it would leave passengers having to order tickets online or use ticket machines that are difficult to use and frequently break down.
The protest was the idea of Unite Community member and local resident Margaret Batty who met up with her friend Jan Egan on a visit to an RMT picket line at Leeds Station. As regular users Cross Gates station, they were alarmed to hear from strikers about the conditions that rail operators want to impose and the potential impact.
Margaret said a spokesperson for the RMT also came to talk to Leeds East Constituency Labour Party about the reasons for the strike and she asked about how to go about backing their campaigning.
She said: “He subsequently brought banners, leaflets, etc to my house. He also gave me a RMT placard to support the protest. I was then put in touch with a contact from Unite Community, which I subsequently joined, and the idea then grew to hold a protest in my local area.“
“We have had great support too from Disabled People Against Cuts (Leeds); our local MP, Richard Burgon, and the local Labour Party, including our local councillors.”
Margaret added: “We hope this will be the first of many protests in Crossgates and elsewhere.”
The protest will take place outside the main entrance Crossgates Shopping Centre in Station Road, 11am-1pm. There will be a stall with leaflets and a petition for people to sign.
Campaigners will also be available for local people to talk to about the threatened closure and what can be done about it.
Speaking at the time of the initial closure reports, a Department for Transport spokesperson said the Government had committed £16bn of funding for passenger services since the start of the pandemic but the rail industry needed to be taken off “taxpayer life support”.
They said: “The reality is that ticket offices have seen a significant decline in use since the 90s, yet numbers have not substantially changed since then.
“Staff will always provide face-to-face services on the railways, which can be crucial for those who need additional support and cannot, or do not want to, use contactless or mobile tickets.”