Hounslow Council objects to ticket office closures

Image above: Chiswick Station; photograph George Westwood

LB Hounslow cites Equality Act 2010 to object to ticket office closures

Hounslow Council has published its formal response to plans to close ticket offices at local stations. Jefferson Nwokeoma, Assistant Director, Traffic, Transport & Parking has written to London TravelWatch, which is co-ordinating the public consultation, expressing his concern about the proposals.

South Western Railway wants to completely shut the remaining four ticket offices in the borough including Chiswick and Brentford. In a strongly-worded letter addressed to SWR, Mr. Nwokeoma said:

“We recognise that technology and the pandemic have changed the way we travel in many ways but there are still residents for whom in-person support is a necessary part of their journey and which could be the difference between them making a trip or not.

“Under the Equality Act 2010, private bodies carrying out public functions still have a responsibility to ensure equal access and treatment for all individuals, regardless of their protected characteristics. This proposal will disproportionately affect individuals with disabilities, the elderly, ethnic groups, lower-income backgrounds and those who are digitally excluded.”

Image above: Chiswick Station’s ticket office

More staffing needed at some stations, not less

Mr. Nwokeoma expressed concern that the proposed changes would disproportionately affect people with disabilities, the elderly, minority ethnic groups, those from lower-income backgrounds, and those without digital access. He stressed the need for clear plans from SWR regarding adequate staffing at stations to continue assisting commuters effectively.

Mr. Nwokeoma pointed to stations such as Brentford, where multiple entrances pose challenges for those seeking assistance. Removing the dedicated ticket office, he argued, would reduce the chances of finding help when needed.

Safety risks were also highlighted in the latter, particularly for women, as the withdrawal of staff could put women in vulnerable situations. Mr. Nwokeoma also referred to a serious incident at Isleworth Station involving a group of secondary school-aged pupils crossing live tracks between platforms. The prompt response by station staff, he noted, demonstrated the importance of having personnel on-site.

Additionally, Mr. Nwokeoma highlighted the expected increase in usage at Syon Lane and Kew Bridge stations. Syon Lane’s step-free access and Kew Bridge’s rising demand during match days should, according to him, prompt SWR to consider increased staffing at these locations to ensure a smooth and safe travel experience for all passengers.

Proposed changes for Chiswick Station

DAY CURRENT TICKET OFFICE OPENING HOURS PROPOSED STATION STAFFING HOURS
Monday 6:15am – 10:15am Unstaffed
Tuesday 6:15am – 10:15am 6:00am – 10:00am
Wednesday 6:15am – 10:15am 6:00am – 10:00am
Thursday 6:15am – 10:15am 6:00am – 10:00am
Friday 6:15am – 10:15am 6:00am – 10:00am
Saturday Unstaffed 9:00am – 1:00pm
Sunday Unstaffed Unstaffed

Proposed Changes for Brentford Station

DAY CURRENT TICKET OFFICE OPENING HOURS PROPOSED STATION STAFFING HOURS
Monday 6:30am – 10:30am 6:00am – 10:00am
Tuesday 6:30am – 10:30am 6:00am – 10:00am
Wednesday 6:30am – 10:30am 6:00am – 10:00am
Thursday 6:30am – 10:30am 6:00am – 10:00am
Friday 6:30am – 10:30am Unstaffed
Saturday Unstaffed Unstaffed
Sunday Unstaffed 9:00am – 1:00pm

Cllr Katherine Dunne condemns proposals

Councillor Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment and Transport and Deputy Leader of the Council, said:

“I along with our Council officers have read the proposals and I am concerned that this proposal will disproportionately affect certain individuals in our communities. There are residents for whom in-person support is a necessary part of their journey and which could be the difference between them making a trip or not.

“The Council’s Transport Strategy sets out targets for increasing the use of public transport in the borough. This means ensuring that public transport is fully accessible for everyone so that none of Hounslow’s residents are prevented from making essential journeys.

“As a borough we have been committed to improving access for all to our rail and underground network supporting the delivery of Step-Free access at Syon Lane Station, Osterley Tube station and currently Isleworth Station, where new lifts are due to open in late 2023.

“I am equally worried about the wider safety and personal security for everyone on the network including vulnerable members of society. Women’s safety is a key issue across the country, which is not helped by these proposals, not only for passengers but for the staff who will be without a base should the ticket offices close.”

You can email your response the consultation to: swr.consultation@londontravelwatch.org.uk up until 1 September.

Or write to:

Freepost RTEH-XAGE-BYKZ
London TravelWatch
PO Box 5594
Southend-on-Sea
SS1 9PZ