Cumbria’s tourism leaders are urging a rethink on proposals to close ticket offices at railway stations throughout the county.
The plans have been drawn up by the industry body Rail Delivery Group, which is proposing the closure of 1,000 ticket offices nationwide, including stations across Cumbria.
Cumbria Tourism says the move would not only negatively impact local communities, but would be off-putting to visitors looking for help and information when they arrive in Cumbria. It would also create an additional barrier for passengers with disabilities and accessibility needs, as well as people wanting to make more sustainable transport choices.
Surveys carried out by the Rail User Group on the Lakes line indicate that – at certain times of year – 75% of journeys are leisure visitors. Many of these people are irregular rail travellers who are unfamiliar with the local public transport system and the geography of the area; this means the help and support of ticketing staff is invaluable.
For international visitors, the ability to discuss travel plans with a real person and gain the confidence they need to make the journey is doubly important.
Cumbria Tourism President Jim Walker says: “Cumbria is a rural visitor destination with an above average number of people continuing to use ticket offices compared to the rest of the country. As a county, we also have a super aging population who are less likely to engage with smart technology and often prefer to pay in cash.
“A lot of people go to booking offices to ask for information, journey planning, advice and other bits of information, but these enquiries are not necessarily logged anywhere.
“I understand the pressure on the finances, but this is completely the wrong time to do it, when we are trying to actively promote more sustainable ways to get around and get our public transport systems back on track.”
He adds, “A public consultation about the proposal is due to end next Wednesday 26 July and we are urging individuals and businesses with concerns about the plans to formally make their voices heard.”