When I read that the Government is pushing through nearly 1,000 train station ticket offices closures I had to check it was not a misprint.
Perhaps it was meant to read 100?
But no, they really are set on driving through this extraordinary act of national vandalism, one that will hit the most vulnerable hardest. It’s a plan that Southwark Labour will fight all the way.
These proposals will impact almost every single station in Southwark, including the ones you use to travel. With only London Bridge left untouched.
In the age of ticket apps, contactless and ticket machines, you might ask; why does matter?
The answers are simple. 150 million journeys nationwide will be hit by this decision. With older people, people with disabilities and those on the very lowest incomes, who do not have access to banking, impacted most.
23% of disabled adults and 6% of non-disabled adults are unable to use the internet. Wheelchair user discounts can only be purchased at ticket offices. Only 3% of blind people are able to use ticket vending machine without problems. It just isn’t fair to make things even harder.
That’s why last week I brought together many volunteer and community organisations across our borough to write to the railway provides and the department of transport saying they must stop these cuts. But with your help we can make this message even stronger, that’s why we have also launched a petition, so that people in Southwark can make their voices heard.
Please add your name at www.southwarklabour.com/petition/save-our-railway-ticket-offices-in-southwark/.
The government must not be allowed to railroad this plan through. We need to be making is easier and safer to travel by train not harder. Passengers in Southwark have already suffered years of delays and reduced timetables thanks to the Conservative Party’s failure to keep our trains running. You should not have to face further disruption due to rushed changes to our stations.
We’ve seen this kind of thoughtless attack on our public transport before.
Last year, Conservative minsters tried to impose cuts to TfL’s finances that would have taken away a host of vital bus routes.
We knew it was important and we fought against it and where able to work with the Mayor of London to save our buses. I’m still proud of the work our community did, to make sure our voices where heard.
We showed we can make a difference. Thousands of people in Southwark supported the campaign, organised by your Southwark Labour councillors. We need to harness that energy again to save out ticket offices.
It does not have to be like this. Londoners shouldn’t have to constantly be working to keep basic part of our transport network from getting worst. We should be seeing constant and ambitious improvements in our transport network, making it easier to travel by train, bus and tube.
We’ve seen what can be done. I was delighted when we worked with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to deliver the Northern Line extension from Kennington to Battersea and Nine Elms.
Transport for London now says the line could see ten million trips each year by 2024/25.
We’re investing in Elephant and Castle tube and Peckham and Surrey Quays trains stations too. Making them better for everyone, including more step free access.
Investment in projects like that are what we need, in Southwark and in London, not badly planned rushed cuts to our services.
We should be going even further. I’m working with council leaders across London, to convince the Government to back the Bakerloo Line extension, and it’s been great to have TfL restate their support for it this month.
The Prime Minster says he want to get our economy growing, well if he real did he’d be backing shovel ready projects like the Bakerloo Line extension. It would be a game changer for Southwark and London. Not only bring a vital new transport link but unlocking tens of thousands of new homes and jobs. Instead he seems intent on making our transport network worse not better, with his station closures.
Southwark council wants the best for it residents and we will always work to make our borough the best place to live in London. I am hopeful that soon we will have a government that cares about making peoples lives better.