Calderdale Council has officially submitted its feedback in response to the Northern Rail public consultation. In its submission, the council has expressed significant reservations and has registered objections against the plans to shut down railway ticket offices across the region.

As part of their proposed changes to customer support services at railway stations, Northern intends to cease operations at 131 ticket offices within their network. Additionally, they plan to alter the operating hours at 18 other offices.

Within Calderdale, this proposed course of action would result in the closure of ticket offices at Halifax, Hebden Bridge, and Todmorden stations. The current staff in these ticket offices would be replaced with ‘journey makers’ who will provide assistance on the platforms. However, it’s worth noting that the working hours of these ‘journey makers’ would be notably shorter than the present opening hours of the ticket offices.

The council has formally submitted its response to the public consultation, outlining its objections to the closure plans. Furthermore, the council has raised concerns pertaining to various issues, including matters of public safety and security, as well as equality concerns. This includes the potential adverse impact these proposals could have on elderly and disabled rail users.

The Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Jane Scullion, said; “As a Council, we’re extremely concerned about the potential impacts of the proposals to close rail ticket offices around the country.

“In our formal response to Northern’s public consultation, we’ve strongly objected to the proposals, which would affect all of Calderdale’s staffed stations. While we appreciate that arrangements need to develop over time, we believe that the current proposals are based more on cost savings than an aim to improve customer service and this is the wrong approach.

“We are particularly concerned that the changes will disproportionately affect vulnerable or elderly residents who may need extra assistance and could face difficulties using digital methods to purchase tickets. The limited availability and working hours of proposed ‘journey makers’ may make it very difficult for older people or those with disabilities to be confident that they can travel by train independently.

“The presence of station staff is also important for safety and security reasons, both acting as a deterrent for any anti-social behaviour and providing reassurance for personal safety. Under the proposals, staff will be based at the station for fewer hours, and mostly at busier times of day when people are less likely to feel worried about their personal safety.

“As we are living in a time of climate emergency, we should be doing all we can to make public transport an attractive and viable alternative to the use of private cars. There is a particular concern that the proposals will discourage future passengers, making it harder to attract new users to the rail network and subsequently hindering our long-term ambitions for the Calder Valley line.

“We are urging rail bosses to reconsider these proposals and support a safe, accessible and inclusive public transport service for those living, working or visiting Calderdale and the wider Northern region.”