Ticket office closure threats prompt call for Berwick, Alnmouth and Morpeth train stations to be devolved to mayors
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It is feared the possible closure of ticket offices, including Alnmouth, Berwick and Morpeth, by train operating companies will lead to significant job losses and turn the railways in to no-go areas for those with disabilities or no regular internet access to cheaper tickets.
Kim McGuinness, Labour’s candidate for the North East mayoral election, said: “Rail station devolution needs to be in the next devolution deal, and as mayor I’ll fight to take stations out of the hands of private companies and back in to local control.”
She adds that plans to close ticket stations across the region “show that neither rail franchisees nor Government ministers can be trusted to invest in our infrastructure”.
Martin Gannon, chair of Transport North East and leader of Gateshead Council, one of the council leaders to negotiate the current devolution deal with Government, added: “The devolution deal we have now is just a start. We know we need more devolution from Government to our region if we are going to create real change.
“Integrating our transport network is key to our economic success, and it’s right that councils and the mayor have a bigger say over all parts of the local network.”
Ms McGuinness added: “Our train stations are community assets, but they are being run-down by train companies who would rather they were nothing more than a platform.
“What they need is long-term investment so they can be safe, thriving stations that support small independent businesses and community groups.
“The public should be able to elect councils and mayors who can work together to safeguard these key community assets instead of watching as train firms turn their back on them.
“Yes, a mayor might not be able to run the actual ticket offices on behalf of the rail companies, but we can make train stations a more welcoming place to offset these cuts.”
She has already set out wider transport plans for the North East including bringing buses back under public control and introducing an integrated ticket policy so only one ticket or pass is needed for any journey on bus or Metro.