Proposals to shut Hackney railway ticket offices would be a “disaster”

Plans to close six local train station ticket offices in Hackney and leave some unstaffed part of the day, have been branded a “disaster” by Hackney’s rail users, amid fears they could “become more intimidating places for passengers and more inviting places for criminals.”

The National Rail ticket offices - at Hackney Wick, Old Street, Homerton, Rectory Road, Stamford Hill and Stoke Newington - have been earmarked for closure in an independent government-commissioned report.

Its author Sir Roy McNulty, who believes �1billion in savings could be made by 2019 if his cost-cutting measures are followed, has also recommended that some of the stations are only staffed part of the day.

But Ray King, convener for Cambridge Heath and London Fields Rail Users group, branded the plans a “disaster.”

“There are tremendous problems at unstaffed stations with drunks, drug users and other anti-social people deterring ordinary passengers from using them,” he said.

Women in the group report feeling concerned for their safety when they stand on bleak empty platforms with no staff to come to their aid.

“British Transport Police do their best to make sure stations are safe but it would be better if the stations were properly staffed in the first place,” he said.

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“Passengers always tell us that they feel much safer if they know there are station staff and it also important that passengers can get advice about tickets and trains from staff at the stations.

“Ticket machines at our local stations regularly go on the blink so it is impossible to buy a ticket when there is no ticket office,” he added, saying he believed the measures could put people off using trains altogether, thereby reducing rail companies’ revenue.

Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly member for Hackney, also slammed the proposals as “more bad news for passengers.”

“I’m really worried that stations that can already feel less than safe will become more intimidating places for passengers and more inviting places for criminals,” she said.

A Department of Transport spokesman said they were currently considering the report’s findings.

“Any of his proposed changes to rail fares or ticketing will be examined as part of a Government review,” he added.