Published: 08 September 2023

Residents may be aware that Southeastern recently held a public consultation on their joint proposals with other train operators for the future of ticket offices in the Pay As You Go area. This includes closure of ticket offices at 40 train stations across the network, with the staff that previously provided this service to be retained and moved onto the station where they can provide direct customer support.

The proposals were received and commented on by Sevenoaks Town Council’s Planning Committee on 29th August 2023, where it was noted by members that; although the Sevenoaks Station ticket office will be retained, the proposals will still affect residents of Sevenoaks Town who visit the nearby stations which are due to be affected. Furthermore, they are part of additional consultations on fares and the future of ticketing; namely the abolition of London Travelcards and switching to contactless fare-charging.

The following significant issues relating to the proposals were highlighted by the Town Councillors during discussions and have since been forwarded to Southeastern for their consideration:
  • Relocating staff presence to behind the station barriers presents difficulties to blind and/or disabled passengers, who may need assistance buying tickets or finding the help they need without the normal point of contact;
  • Those without bank cards and reliant on cash will be unable to use most ticket machines or contactless facilities without special provision;
  • Schools organising school trips who depend on ticket office advice to advise their travel or on best ticket price will be unable to access this service;
  • Carers taking vulnerable people on trains will find it difficult to use contactless without special arrangements allowing multiple “taps”;
  • Older rail users and those less familiar with trains and fair structures often need help and advice which they may not trust machines or online purchases to do;
  • Ticket machines are not governed by the same laws as operators, whereby they must offer rail travellers the best possible fare for their journey;
  • Switching to a contactless fare system must first be set up to allow for railcards and dual travellers.

The Town Council objected strongly to the proposed ticket office closures, and now eagerly awaits to receive update of Southeastern’s next steps.

To view the full response to the consultation, please refer to Page 51 of the Agenda for Sevenoaks Town Council’s Planning Committee, due to meet on 11th September 2023. This is available via the following link:

If you have any queries, please contact:

Georgie Elliston