BARNSLEY railway station’s ticket office has been spared from closure after the controversial plans were scrapped in a government U-turn.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) announced over the summer that it intended to shut almost all of the nation’s 1,007 train station outlets - including in Barnsley - in an effort to reduce costs after a post-Covid fall in passenger numbers.
The government had previously backed the proposals, despite the move angering unions and disability and passenger groups, who said it would affect the ability of some customers to travel independently.
It came despite warnings the move will likely prompt more industrial action, increase crime rates and make travelling difficult for the vulnerable and elderly.
Commuters would have had to use train operators’ apps or websites to buy tickets or use the self-service machines at stations.
On Tuesday, the government announced that no ticket office will be closed.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “We have engaged with accessibility groups throughout this process and listened carefully to passengers as well as my colleagues in parliament.
“The proposals that have resulted from this process do not meet the high thresholds set by ministers, and so the government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.
“We will continue our work to reform our railways with the expansion of contactless Pay As You Go ticketing, making stations more accessible through our Access for All programme and £350m funding through our Network North plan to improve accessibility at up to 100 stations.”
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, who had previously backed a move to stop the scheme, said: “This is welcome news - but closing rail ticket offices should never have been considered in the first place.
“These proposals were short-sighted and would have caused untold worry to passengers.
“Well done and thank you to everyone who supported the campaign.”
Rail union RMT welcomed the government’s complete withdrawal of its ticket office closure plans in light of passenger watchdog objections as a complete victory.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said that it was a resounding victory for the union’s campaign and a win for passengers, community groups and rail workers alike.
He added: “We are now calling for an urgent summit with the government, train operating companies, disabled and community organisations and passenger groups to agree a different route for the rail network that guarantees the future of our ticket offices and stations staff jobs to delivers a safe, secure and accessible service that puts passengers before profit.”
South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard praised the government’s U-turn - but believes it should never have got to this point.
“We said from the beginning it was a mistake to close ticket offices, he added.
“We pressured the government and train operating companies to look again at the proposals.
“On behalf of all those people in South Yorkshire and across the country who rely on ticket offices, I’m pleased they’ve listened.”