Full speed ahead? Londoners respond to TfL ‘modernisation’ as ticket offices close across capital

South Wimbledon station’s ticket office closed yesterday, preceding capital-wide closures in all 278 tube stations in favour of staff in ticket halls, gates and platforms.

The measure has caused some controversy with London Underground staff striking last year to protect jobs and subsequent promises from TfL that all redundancies will be voluntary.

It is not just staff who will be affected, ticket office closures in one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations have sharply divided opinion.

London Underground does intend to open a small number of visitor information centres located at stations that link with airports or national or international rail services to help first time or infrequent customers.

Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground, said: “Our customers and our staff remain at the heart of everything we do and we recognise that without them London Underground wouldn’t be what it is today.”

“I have made a commitment that all stations will remain staffed at all times and there will be more of our people visible and available to assist our customers in ticket halls, with record numbers of staff on our platforms.”

“Modernisation occurs in all industries and there’s no reason transport should be exempt from that.”

Despite these promises Labour’s London Assembly transport spokeswoman Val Shawcross expressed her concerns at the lack of human help that would be available at stations.

She said: “When he was elected, Boris Johnson promised Londoners he would protect the capital’s ticket offices, but today he starts the process of dismantling each and every one of them.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “With major line upgrades continuing apace, a new 24-hour Tube service and more staff out and about to help customers at stations, it’s clear that 2015 will be a key chapter in the history of our iconic Tube.”

SW Londoner asked commuters and residents for their thoughts on the ticket office closures.

Nick Durrant, 25, a consumer analyst from Marylebone, said: “I think it’s good that TfL is trying to adapt to its passengers’ needs – it’s understood that a small percentage of people use ticket offices, and the majority of those that do could get what they need from one of the machines.

“Modernisation occurs in all industries and there’s no reason transport should be exempt from that.

“TfL is there to improve transport in the city, and the fact is the use of ticket offices unnecessarily takes up staff time that could be better used to help passengers in and around the station.”

“Boris Johnson promised Londoners he would protect the capital’s ticket offices.”

Siobhan Warwicker, 26, a writer from Balham, said: “’I use the ticket office at my local station about once a year, when the automatic machines decide to simultaneously break down.

“Although there’s no real reason for Londoners to use ticket offices any more, I think tourists will miss them as the travel system can be quite confusing to someone who has just arrived in the city.”

In agreement with her is Emily Jennings, 28, a content editor from Clapham, she said: “I think that the closure of ticket desks outside of the main central tube stations shouldn’t have too big an impact on commuters as most people know where they’re going.

“I think they should have offices though in central stations where tourists need help purchasing tickets.

“I suppose it’s a sign of the times that we’re moving further and further away from human interaction and closer to the digital way of life.”

For more information on the planned closures and how they will affect you, see

Picture courtesy of Charbel Akhras, with thanks

Related Articles