Thursday, 4 March 2010

Stop Salami-Slicing Elmbridge Railway Stations

South West Trains are proposing to close Thames Ditton and Hinchley Wood Railway ticket offices on Saturdays. You can read, below, the letter I sent them this week:

Ian Johnston
Customer Service Director
Customer Service Centre
South West Trains
Overline House
Blechynden Terrace
Southampton SO15 1GW 2 March 2010

Dear Mr Johnston,


I was disappointed to learn in the Surrey Advertiser (26 February) that South West Trains are proposing to close ticket offices in Thames Ditton and Hinchley Wood on Saturdays. This is the latest attempt to reduce the service provided at local stations, and I can see no new reason to justify such a reduction.

The ticket offices in question are currently only open from 10am to 1pm on Saturdays, so it is already a limited service (with local offices sometimes manned by a single person). You were quoted in the newspaper article as claiming that you are responding to declining demand for the purchase of tickets at station kiosks. However, I regularly use local stations in Elmbridge and there are often queues on a Saturday, as people buy season tickets or other products that need to be purchased over the counter. For the elderly or foreign visitors, ticket offices represent a key service.

Whilst it makes sense to harness technology to improve customer service, in this instance you are really just talking about cutting the equivalent of one day’s wages for one person per week. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this is merely an attempt to salami-slice the service provided at Hinchley Wood and Thames Ditton stations, and there is considerable local concern that this would herald wider cuts by stealth across the borough. Whatever data is telling you that overall demand for counter services has declined, I urge you to bear in mind its residual value for those customers that still need a personal service. South West Trains needs to remember the value of the services they provide – not just the costs. I am copying this letter to Travel Watch and, given the widespread local concern, making it publicly available.

Yours sincerely,

Dominic Raab

Conservative Candidate for Esher & Walton


Richard Tebboth said...


There are bigger issues:
Defence priorities
Foreign (ethical?) Policy
MPs' compensation
Political Principles

Let's hear your views on these rather than the shortcomings of SW Trains.

Dom Raab said...

No apologies for addressing local issues - but I will be commenting on the Falklands later today/ tomorrow, and will post the link to a recent debate on the Middle East with Ken Livingstone and Rime Allaf of Chatham House once it goes on air.

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