TSSA uncovers correspondence from civil servants that shows government will close hundreds of smaller ticket offices
Ministers have secretly agreed to close hundreds of smaller rail ticket offices as outlined in the McNulty Report, leaked emails revealed.
Even while an official consultation continues on McNulty’s call to close 675 offices, the Department for Transport emails make clear ministers are in secret talks with train operating companies to close them.
They were revealed by Rail News as a row broke out in the Commons over ministerial deception while publicly claiming no final decisions have yet been made.
In one email, Ruth Harper, a civil servant at the DfT instructs a press officer to change a planned press release because it claims “the government has no plans to close ticket offices”.
She tells press officer Simon Larson: “We cannot say the government has no plans to close ticket offices because we have an application from London Midland where the minister has already decided to approve some ticket office closures (it has just not been announced yet while we are concluding negotiations with LM) and there will be more of those in the future.”
She then congratulates Larson on a form of weasel words in his planned release for suggesting that the initiative on closures comes from the rail companies rather than the government.
She writes:”Your way of slipping in there that the initiative comes from TOCs and not us is very neat.”
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “This is prove positive that ministers have already decided to close all 675 ticket offices while passing the public blame on to the private companies. They know they would never get this decision through the Commons so they are planing to bypass Parliament and do secret deals with the companies as the agree new franchises.
“They haven’t even got the courage of their own convictions. These emails reveal a blatant attempt to hoodwink passengers over where the real blame lays when their ticket offices closes. And the duplicity of the civil servants show that Sir Humphrey Appleby is alive and well and living in the DfT.”
McNulty has recommended the closure of 675 Category E stations, those that open 12 hours a day or less, as part of a plan to save £1 billion off the taxpayers £5 billion annual subsidy to the private railway.
His main recommendation was excluded from the press summary issued by the Dft when it was published last year.
The RMT pledged to step up the campaign of resistance and will work with Midlands MP Jack Dromey to raise the “cash for closures” scandal in Parliament at the earliest opportunity.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “This “cash for closures” scandal shows that the Government are prepared to ride roughshod over public opinion to bulldoze through ticket office closures with London Midland blazing a trail for the McNulty carve-up the length and breadth of the country.
“RMT will step up the fight to stop this stitch-up which would turn our stations into a muggers and vandals paradise.”
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