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Ticket office closures ‘would increase social isolation’

Brain injury survivors will experience difficulty travelling if plans to close ticket offices go ahead, warns Headway



Closing ticket offices in train stations would lead to a rise in the social isolation experienced by brain injury survivors, brain injury charity Headway has warned. 

Plans have been revealed by train operators to close hundreds of ticket offices at railway stations across England, with automated machines replacing the opportunity to interact with people when buying tickets. 

A survey by Headway in response to the plans has revealed that 78 per cent of brain injury survivors said they could not or would not be sure how to purchase a ticket for travel if ticket offices were to close. 

It also revealed how heavily brain injury survivors rely on public transport, for both essential and social journeys, with many not being able to drive, or choosing not to and instead a preferred mode of transport being train. 

Headway also pointed to the many issues survivors can face around executive dysfunction, mobility, visual impairment and anxiety, which all contribute to difficulties when using ticket machines on platforms or booking online, or explaining why they do not have a ticket when boarding a train if they have been unable to purchase before travel.

The survey found that talking to a member of staff in a ticket office is essential for many brain injury survivors to explain the journey they want to make, and to receive support to understand the best way to go about it.

Sarah Russell, senior policy and public affairs manager at Headway said: “The presence of staff at rail stations is vital to ensure that they are accessible to all.

“Many brain injury survivors would find train travel very difficult or impossible if ticket offices were to close. 

“We would undoubtedly see a rise in social isolation amongst brain injury survivors if these closures went ahead.”

Headway has used the findings of its survey – which was conducted among brain injury survivors and their families and carers – to respond to the consultation currently underway around ticket office closures, urging operators to take into account the needs of people with brain injury and other disabilities.

Responses from survivors included “I would be unable to travel if these ticket offices closed” and “I get confused and my injury makes it difficult for me to follow instructions”.  

Others stated: “It will isolate me, reduce opportunities for me, and limit my quality of life, plus make transport generally more expensive. It would have a negative impact on the quality of life for me and many others.”

“I would suffer from intense anxiety about buying the right ticket and working the ticket machine.”

“I know many others who need the support of the ticket office workers, if nothing else but to help with reservations, actual purchases, explaining the many restrictions on each ticket, and arranging assistance too.”