Sep 19 2011 By Dan Coombs
COMMUTERS preparing for increased rail fares have been dealt a new blow- their ticket office could be completely axed.
The ticket office at West Drayton train station is one of 675 in England and Wales which has been earmarked for closure to save money.
The station is included in the Government commission McNulty report into railway costs.
Chris Green, from Yiewsley, is a regular commuter and feels strongly that closing the ticket office would be a backwards move for the area.
"The single ticket machine on site, that would become the only source for purchasing tickets and travelcards, is frequently out of order and vandalised.
"There is already a severe lack of uniformed station staff, making West Drayton Station a very unsafe and intimidating location at the best of times, especially in the evenings and the hours of darkness.
"Removing the manned ticket office means even less uniformed staff presence at the station, even less potential help for vulnerable and lone travellers using the station.
"Given the very real concerns about passenger safety and protection at the station, there is a strong argument for increasing staff numbers, not cutting them.
"Closing the ticket office would ultimately be a temporary move, once Crossrail is operational at the station the increase in commuter numbers would necessitate a manned ticket facility to process the regular purchase and renewal of season tickets."
John Davies, chair of the Yiewsley and West Drayton Town Centre Action Group, said: "I think it will be a retrograde step, particularly with the advent of Crossrail. I think 'short-termism' springs to mind."
The Association of Train Operating Companies said that the plans were currently being closely examined, adding that there has been a 12 per cent reduction in tickets sold from booths in the last five years, while the number of machine sales has almost doubled.
They added that just one in three ticket sales are currently made from stations, with buying online another upwards trend.
While the ticket office at West Drayton station, in Station Road, is facing the axe, Hayes and Harlington, on the same line, gets a reprieve and is not one of those on the list.
The Government is yet to make a decision on the report, which calls for £1 billion of savings to be made across the network.