Update from Great Western Regarding Proposed Railway Ticket Office Closures

I have received the update below from Great Western regarding the proposed changes to ticket offices. They have said that they have made a number of key changes to their proposals based on some of the responses they have seen from the consultation although the final results are not yet in.


Dear John

Just a quick note to remind you that Transport Focus and London TravelWatch will be reporting back on their consultation on how tickets are sold at stations next Tuesday (31 October).

We will send a further update then, but we thought it would be helpful to send a reminder and a quick update on the work we have been doing in the meantime.

We have been listening to stakeholders and colleagues and to Transport Focus and London TravelWatch who have been sharing key themes from the consultation, and as a result we have made a number of key changes to our proposals:

  • Digital First, Not Only: We have changed our proposals so that retail trained staff will have handheld sales devices to support self-service ticket machines. This means customers will still find every type of ticket they can get today at a station in the future and staff will be available to help with ticket advice if needed. In addition, we will upgrade our ticket machines to sell a wider variety of tickets and more tickets will become digitally available.   Staff will also be able to help switch to buying digitally via our app or other options like pay-as-you-go/CPAY
  • Staffing Hours: We are extending our staffing commitment so that retail trained colleagues will be on hand for the same hours as today at all stations with a ticket office, ready to help customers when they need it
  • ‘Help at Hand’ Points: We have proposed the introduction of accessible, clearly marked Welcome Points with ‘Help at Hand’ buttons providing a direct link to a retail-trained staff member should they not be immediately available
  • Cash availability: We are proposing to add cash payment options to our self-service Ticket Vending Machines

We have also looked at the timing of the changes.  Before any change is made, we will first need to agree our revised plans with the Department for Transport, we will then discuss the changes with our colleagues and their Trade Unions, complete updated Equality Impact Assessments for each station and a Crime and Vulnerability Risk Assessment.

Once this is complete, we propose to reduce the number of windows available at stations with multiple windows, bringing those staff closer to customers on the station floor.  They will help customers use self-service machines, or digital purchase, while also helping with any queues for tickets with their handheld ticket devices.   We will review progress before making further changes, including bringing staff from single window stations out from behind the glass, with handheld devices, and the pace of change will be driven by changes that customers make in how they buy their tickets.

Best Wishes

Great Western Railway


  1. Bryan Harris
    October 26, 2023

    It’s a start.

    I find ticket machines most confusing and can never navigate my way to a ticket. You’d think that they’d have a direct link for trains to London, but nothing in sight.
    Using the A-Z selection was just as bad as my station was not mentioned.

    If ticket machines are to be more common then they need to be simple and straight foreward – As an irregular user I am not interested in the rail network, I just want a proper display that allows me to get a ticket quicker than going to a human.

  2. George Sheard
    October 26, 2023

    Hi sir John
    People will buy tickets to what’s available to them and not in the way they wish to purchase their tickets. so it will give the results that the rail companies want
    So etc: the rail company give a choice of
    A, or B, But the customer want C which is not available
    Giving a untrue choice

  3. Cheshire Girl
    October 26, 2023

    I think this sounds reasonable. I used to buy my tickets online, and get them out of the machine at the Station. I then discovered I could touch in with my debi/credit card.(St. Albans) which was more convenient for me,
    I appreciate that not everyone can do that, and I missed out on cheaper deals, but I found the extra convenience outweighed the extra cost.

  4. Bloke
    October 26, 2023

    A skim read of the proposals indicates sensible intent for improvement. Beyond that, complications of too many different rates even for the same journey already pose muddle, causing passengers to do research and analysis just for a simple trip.
    Simple efficiency would be far faster and better. Only then would the Western Railway be Great.

  5. Berkshire Alan
    October 28, 2023

    So no saving on staff at all then, if they are simply to be deployed to wander or stand next to a ticket machine.
    Yet more complication and confusion in trying to find someone to help or just for simple advice.
    Just make ticket pricing and selection much more easy, simple, and less complicated.
    A very experienced computer industry friend of ours took 4 house on line to find the so called best price for a rail journey a few weeks ago, eventually his wife got so fed up she went down to the local station, called in at the Wokingham ticket office, explained where they wanted to go, and purchased a ticket in a few minutes at the same cost !
    Progress my backside.

    1. Berkshire Alan
      October 29, 2023

      Opps House should read Hours !

  6. Peter Parsons
    October 31, 2023

    Well, all cancelled as of today’s announcement by the Transport Secretary.

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