RMT Warns Of Government Threat To Rip Up Regulations Protecting Ticket Offices From Closures Under Guise Of Cutting 'Red Tape'
RAIL UNION RMT warned today that at the close of Parliamentary business earlier this week, the Government slipped out a possible change to regulations under their “Red Tape Challenge” that would remove a layer of protection from rail ticket offices enabling the McNulty plans to wipe them out to be bulldozed through regardless of public opposition.
The threat hangs over a rail industry agreement known as the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (TSA). Although this is not a statutory instrument it does set out a whole range of industry agreements covering tickets and fares.
Included in this are the arrangements that ensure passengers must be consulted if a company wants to close or make major changes to ticket offices. If there are enough objections then the request is referred to the Secretary of State for Transport as is the case with London Midland and their proposals to either close or severely reduce opening hours at 86 of 90 ticket offices on London Midland. The Union resistance campaign has secured the opposition of MPs, Councillors and over 18000 members of the public.
The McNulty Rail Review, now the core of the Government’s Rail Command Paper, has recommended doing away with this protection as an important pre –requisite to closing ticket offices across the country on a massive scale.
McNulty said in his review about the obstacles to closing ticket offices:
“One example is the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (TSA) between the DfT and franchisees, which prescribes such matters as ticket office opening hours. The TSA affects the TOCs’ ability to react to changing circumstances in demand or emerging trends in retail channels”.
and McNulty recommends:
“the amendment or removal by the DfT of the obligations in the TSA relating to ticket office opening hours, and the removal of the restrictions in the TSA on offering discounted fares to encourage use of particular retail channels”.
That is exactly the change that the Government are now preparing to smuggle in through the back door.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“It is a disgrace that the Government are setting up a process for destroying the one mechanism that the public and staff have got for forcing the minister to intervene when there is a threat to ticket offices. McNulty, and the Government, want this procedure removed so that they can smash up ticket offices and sack staff at will and that is why they have smuggled through the start of that process at the death of the Parliamentary session.
“This is nothing to do with “Red Tape Challenges”, it’s about removing public accountability, destroying passenger service and ramping up the profits of the private train operators. RMT will fight this all the way.”