Protesters gathered at York Station today (Tuesday) to fight plans to axe most rail ticket offices.
Industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) revealed plans for a mass cull of the station ticket offices last week.
Although York’s will survive, most – including those at Selby, Malton and Northallerton – will be closed.
And that will have a huge knock-on effect for older and disabled travellers, say campaigners.
At a a demonstration at York Station, the plans were blasted as unfair and discriminatory.
Anne Norton, a member of York Disability Rights Forum, told YorkMix: “It’s going to have a huge impact on disabled people and our ability to travel.
“Quite frankly, it’s a disgrace, and the government needs to have a rethink.
“Tickets offices are very important because there’s that physical contact with a human being.
“And there’s also the physical location, which is a fixed point. It means that people with various impairments can get to know their local station, they can go to the ticket office and say – ‘I know where I am, this is my safe point’.”
The RDG has proposed replacing the offices with roving staff who can help travellers with ticket issues.
But for many people with disabilities, that would not work, Anne said.
“The idea of hoping that somebody in the station will be wandering past at the point you’ve arrived – or even worse, the idea that you’ll have to go and look for them – is just highly impractical and potentially unsafe.
“If these proposals go through, then I can easily see many of us being unable to travel in the future. And that would be terrible.”
Disability access campaigner Flick Williams told the demonstrators that the RDG plan was “exclusionary, blatantly discriminatory, and we know they don’t care about us, because they can’t produce the consultation in accessible formats”.
“We once had a railway that belonged to all of us,” she said. “We demand it remains a railway where everyone no matter who they are, can travel with whatever assistance they need to make that happen.
“If this succeeds, know that this government will have made confetti out of the Equality Act. We don’t accept it, and we won’t stand for it.”
Today, five Labour metro mayors revealed they are preparing to take legal action in a bid to stop the “rushed” planned mass closure of railway station ticket offices.
The RDG said just 12% of tickets were sold from ticket offices last year.
They say their proposals would mean more staff on hand “to give face-to-face help with a much wider range of support”.
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