The Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council and portfolio holder for transport have responded to the TransPennine Express consultation relating to changes to ticket offices and customer services at staffed stations.
Cllr Philip Jackson and Cllr Stewart Swinburn have sent a letter, on behalf of the council, against the proposals presented by TransPennine Express and have written to the Secretary of State for Transport and Transport Focus to outline their concerns.
The proposed changes from TransPennine Express includes closing both ticket offices at Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes railway stations and reducing the staffing hours at both stations.
Cllr Swinburn, portfolio holder for environment and transport, said: “Closing the ticket offices at both Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes train stations raises a number of concerns, in particular but not limited to, the impact on elderly and disabled passengers. Elderly and disabled passengers often prefer or require assistance from members of staff at the existing ticket offices to ensure they are purchasing the correct train ticket and to assist with journey planning. Closing these ticket offices will only worsen this issue. There are also a number of people in North East Lincolnshire who do not have access to the internet or mobile phones, and these people will often find it hard to use self-service ticket machines.”
Cllr Jackson added: “The council is making significant investments to regenerate Grimsby Town Centre and the resort of Cleethorpes to make North East Lincolnshire a better place to live, work and visit. We have an aspiration for both locations to be an all-year-round destination of choice for visitors. Therefore, the number of train passengers are expected to increase and we would expect rail users to have a high quality experience, which would assist with encouraging more people visiting the area.”
The council previously worked with TransPennine Express to refurbish and upgrade both ticket offices. If the ticket offices are closed, the anticipated benefits from this investment, such as providing a better passenger experience, will not be realised.
Cleethorpes train station is proposed to reduce its staffed hours by 1.5 hours per day, with the staffing hours starting from 6am instead of 4.30am, Monday to Saturday. The proposals also intend to reduce staffing hours at Grimsby Town station by 49.75 hours over the course of the week. Its new hours will be Monday to Friday 8am to 3pm and Sunday 9am to 4pm.
In their letter, the Cabinet members state the reduction of staff in the early hours of the morning and late evenings presents a safety concern for passengers using the trains during these times, such as anti-social behaviour and in emergency situations. It also stops customers with accessibility issues getting the help they may need for their journey.