A national consultation has been launched on changes which could see the closure of the current ticket offices at Torquay and Paignton Railway Stations (Torre does not have one).
The Passenger Assist programme, which helps disabled and mobility-impaired customers navigate stations and board trains, will not be affected by the changes.
The consultation follows major changes in how customers buy tickets over recent years, with transactions from ticket offices having now dropped below 15% of ticket sales nationally. This said the levels of passengers still using a ticket office in our bay is much higher than the national average, with Paignton appearing to have one of the highest percentages in the GWR region of passengers still using the ticket office.
At Paignton Station 41.3% of tickets (75,595) were sold at the Ticket Office, compared to 48.2% online (88,341). Ticket office use at Torquay Station is lower than in Paignton, but still higher than many others with 29.4% (37,984) sold from the ticket office, compared to 59.4% (76,612) online. The balance at both stations is sold from the self-service ticket machines. By contrast nearby Totnes Station sees just 9.9% of tickets sold from its ticket office, with 83.9% of passengers buying tickets online. All figures given are for the 2022/23 Financial Year.
No changes are proposed in the times Torquay or Paignton Station have staff present at the station (Paignton until 6pm weekdays & Torquay 17:00). Cash payment would continue to be available via self-service machines or staff members selling tickets.
The proposals would see ticket offices close at both stations by June 2024, with ticket office staff moved into other areas of the station, such as on the platform and near ticket machines where they could assist customers to use them. The model being proposed is similar to what already happens at Torre Station during peak periods. This sees GWR staff deployed at the entrance of the station checking & selling tickets, assisting passengers to use the ticket machine and answering queries.
Rail passengers have been voting with their feet for some years, with no sign the decline in usage of ticket offices will be reversed or stop, especially as digital ticketing systems and assistance options (For those with disabilities) become more widely used\available. Yet the ability to ask someone for help to buy a ticket or having staff available to answer a query about train times or ticket validity must remain during the hours the current ticket offices are open. Kevin has therefore objected to the closure of Paignton Station's Ticket Office and asked how the current facilities at Torquay will be improved to serve passengers if the current ticket office is closed. At Torquay Station the ticket office and staff facilities are on the “Down” Platform, whilst the self-service ticket machine is located on the “Up” Platform where virtually all passengers depart from.
Residents can give their response to the consultation by emailing TicketOffice.GWR@transportfocus.org.uk Do ensure you clearly mention which Station you are making comments about as this address is being used for all stations affected across the GWR network.
You can also read more about the consultation on GWR's website by following this link:
Kevin's responses to the consultation for each station are posted below.