Thursday, 19 April 2012

DfT prejudges ticket office consultation

Oh dear!

A leaked series of internal DfT emails about proposed ticket office closures have been published by the Evening Standard:

Larson prepared a draft statement which he emailed to Ruth Harper, senior civil servant at the Rail Fares and Ticketing Review Group at the DfT, on Thursday, 5 April 14.50.

It read: “The government has no plans to close ticket offices, but as ticket buying habits change, we expect train operators to consider how best to deploy their station staff to provide the most benefit to passengers. This will reduce the cost of running the railways for both fare payers and tax payers and help to end the era of inflation busting fare rises.

“We recognise that passengers can feel very strongly about ticket office opening hours, and before we could agree to any changes put forward by operators we would need to be confident that passengers would continue to enjoy ready access to ticket-buying opportunities.”

Ms Harper replies half an hour later at 15.19 stating; “Simon, We can’t say the Government has no plans to close ticket offices because we have an application from London Midland where the minister has already decided to approve some ticket office closures (it’s just not been announced yet while we’re concluding £ negotiations with LM) and there will be more of those in the future.

“If you take that out the rest is ok and your way of slipping in there that the initiative comes from TOCs not us is very neat.”

As this appears to prejudge a still open consultation on ticket office closures the Minister will have some explaining to do...

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

Credit where credit is due.

Theresa May appears to have lost a day from the Home Office calender, where as DfT appear to have gained a whole two months.

No doubt the forthcoming Judicial Review of the process will explain how other departments of state can get so far ahead of the curve?