Trenitalia c2c, along with train operators across the UK, has extended the public consultation for feedback on plans to modernise customer service across the rail network by an extra five and a half weeks.
The consultation, part of a nationwide review of current ticket office usage, has been extended to September 1st. By increasing the time available, it is hoped that more people will have the opportunity to have their say on changes to how tickets are sold at stations in the future.
Together with the extensive and on-going engagement with accessibility groups, as well as the independent passenger watchdogs scrutinising the proposals, the responses will shape final plans so that all passengers are supported as railway retailing is updated for the smartphone era. In addition to these proposals, c2c is introducing pay-as-you-go and barcode-enabled ticketing later this year to help customers outside London travel more flexibly and conveniently.
The consultation comes after a dramatic reduction in the number of customers purchasing tickets in person at station ticket offices. When the rules on selling tickets were set in 1995 – prior to the invention of the smartphone – 85% of all tickets nationally were sold at ticket offices. This has significantly reduced to just 35% for c2c in 2023.
The proposals include staff moving out of ticket offices and on station platforms, concourses and ticket halls as well as adopting new ‘customer help’ roles, which are already in place in many parts of the UK rail network, offering more face-to-face support to customers.
Independent passenger watchdogs Transport Focus and London Travel Watch are facilitating the consultation, which could see the closure of a number of ticket offices across the network as staff take on more visible roles in the station environment.
The consultation comes as the industry continues to face long-running industrial action by rail unions RMT and ASLEF over changes necessary to bring the railway up-to-date and make it sustainable in the long term, with revenue continuing to average at 25% below pre-pandemic levels.
Rob Mullen, c2c’s Managing Director, said: “We are pleased customers have more time to respond to this consultation and continue to encourage people to come forward with feedback on these proposals.
“The way our customers buy tickets has changed and we need to ensure the railway offers an experience that reflects that. With the vast majority of tickets available at ticket vending machines or online, this change will see our station colleagues able to provide a more personal experience for our customers.
“We are especially keen to hear the views of passengers who have physical accessibility needs or those with hearing or visual impairments. I want to reassure these customers that the proposed reforms will not affect our ability to provide assistance for those needing support from our colleagues, either on demand at the station or by booking in advance.
"c2c has extensively invested in replacing multiple outdated legacy UK ticket systems, with Trenitalia's fully digital PICO system. PICO has made it easier for customers to buy their own ticket because it automatically recommends the best value fare; with the new customer help roles we can ensure our teams are available to provide customer service,” he added.
Ticket office facilities will remain open at some of our key stations and interchanges, selling the full range of tickets while the transition takes place. Following these changes, if a customer is unable to buy a specific ticket before boarding the train because it is unavailable at the station, they would be able to buy one during their journey, at a ticket office en-route, or at their destination.
All 26 c2c stations are included in the consultation, with customers invited to share their thoughts and feedback before 1 September. For more information on the consultation visit: www.c2c-online.co.uk/consultation.
To find out more about these reforms across the country, please go to www.raildeliverygroup.com/customer-focused-stations.