Plans for ticket offices to be closed at railway stations across Hertfordshire have been announced.

The proposed closures have been announced by the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the railway companies, and would need to be signed off by the government.

The government has put pressure on the rail industry to save money following the decline of revenues during the Covid pandemic.

Under the proposals, almost all remaining ticket offices across Hertfordshire - and England - would be closed within three years.

Railway stations would retain staff on concourses who could provide accessibility assistance and help with purchasing tickets.

The railway companies argue that ticket offices are no longer needed with nine out of every ten tickets being bought online or from ticket machines in stations.

Jenny Saunders, customer services director for Govia Thameslink Railway, described it as "a real opportunity to modernise and improve the experience of our customers".

However, the RMT union argues that the real reason for the proposed changes is to cut staffing costs.

They claim that "hundreds" of redundancy notices have been issued to staff. According to the Guardian, these are understood to be section 188 letters, which inform unions and staff that posts are at risk and are a legal requirement before possible large-scale redundancies.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT union, has said: "The decision to close up to 1,000 ticket offices and to issue hundreds of redundancy notices to staff is a savage attack on railway workers, their families and the travelling public."

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He described the decision as "catastrophic" for elderly, disabled and vulnerable passengers.

Organisations representing disabled passengers have shared this concern.

Vivienne Francis, of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said: "A mass closure of rail ticket offices would have a hugely detrimental impact on blind and partially sighted people's ability to buy tickets, arrange assistance and, critically, travel independently.

"Our research shows that only three per cent of people with sight loss said they could use a ticket vending machine without problems and 58 per cent said it was impossible."

Passengers can give their views on the proposed changes during a consultation lasting three weeks.

Sir Oliver Heald, the MP for North East Hertfordshire, has encouraged passengers to respond to that consultation and said: "I have always found the help from ticket office staff to be excellent and have concerns about these proposals to close the ticket offices and move staff on to the platform.

"I would urge passengers who agree with me to respond to the consultation which is only for three weeks, which hardly seems long enough."

Thameslink's consultation is available here.

Full details of the proposed closures at Hertfordshire stations

Ticket office closing - assistance available during same hours as current ticket office opening hours

  • Arlesey
  • Baldock
  • Biggleswade
  • Brookmans Park
  • Cuffley
  • Knebworth
  • Royston
  • Watton-at-Stone
  • Welwyn North

Ticket office closing - assistance available during extended opening hours, compared to current ticket office opening hours

  • Elstree & Borehamwood
  • Harpenden
  • Hatfield
  • Hitchin
  • Letchworth
  • Potters Bar
  • Radlett
  • St Albans
  • Stevenage
  • Welwyn Garden City