Southeastern announces first phase of ticket office closures consultation


Southeastern has announced a consultation (along with 13 other train operators) on the future of ticket offices. The train operator says the aim is to make more staff available to assist customers face-to-face, for those that need help, and to provide technology (like e-tickets and Pay-As-You-Go) for those happy to self-serve.

Southeastern says the move should bust queues for tickets at stations and will be underpinned by the rollout of digital technology.,

Five million e-tickets are now sold every week by train companies and retailers like Trainline. As Southeastern continue to roll out more e-ticket routes, this number is expected to continue growing.

If proposals for the future of ticket offices are approved, when the results of the consultation are implemented, Southeastern says it will ensure skilled staff who currently work in ticket offices will get support and training to transition to new roles.

There is currently a wide variation across the 180 stations Southeastern serves, of different opening times and colleagues available, at their 142 ticket offices. At the conclusion of Southeastern’s consultation, the following is proposed:

At 14 of the busiest stations, Travel Centres will be provided, offering a combination of travel information and ticketing solutions.

At Southeastern’s medium and larger sized stations, where it is agreed ticket offices are no longer required, they will be closed. Overall, these stations will have fewer colleagues

At Southeastern’s smaller stations, where the only colleague currently on the station is the person in the ticket office, if agreed that the ticket office will be closed.

18 smaller stations, where vacancies have resulted in the station being temporarily unstaffed, will be restaffed as staff are deployed where they are most needed.

Every station currently staffed, will continue to be staffed.

Subject to consultation, these changes are expected to be phased over the next two years.


Steve White, Managing Director of Southeastern said:  “The world has changed and Southeastern wants to change with it by offering a better, more reliable, and sustainable railway. An overhaul of the way we operate our stations is long overdue.

“Customers love our people not our ticket offices. This consultation proposes making more of our people available to help customers face-to-face providing a wider range of support, including accessibility assistance and deterring anti-social behaviour. It proposes introducing 14 travel centres at our busiest stations and restaffing 18 stations, currently unstaffed due to vacancies.

“Most customers now buy tickets on their phones in simple, queue-free, transactions or use Pay-As-You-Go. Five million e-tickets are now sold weekly by train companies and retailers like Trainline. With customers buying holidays, shopping and banking online they can now also buy rail tickets on their phone at a time that suits them.

“For those happy to use self-service, buying a ticket will be as easy as possible whether on our app, website or at our ticket vending machines (TVMs) and this consultation will ensure they can do that.

“For customers who need ticketing assistance this will remain available through our travel centres, station colleagues and 24/7 helpline for assisted travel.

“At the same time, we want to reduce taxpayers’ subsidy of our business and ensure a sustainable future as a vital public service. The aim is to provide a better service at a lower cost.”

‘Unnecessary mass closure’

However, rail union TSSA has said it will work hand in glove with the public to ‘vigorously oppose the “totally unnecessary mass closure” of ticket offices’ across the railway network amid speculation the government will shortly announce the move.

TSSA has a long-standing policy opposing mass ticket office closures, with many members working in these vital roles. The union has previously pointed to the significantly detrimental impact such a policy would have on a number of social groups, making the railways less safe and less accessible.

TSSA Interim General Secretary, Peter Pendle, said: “If the government wants to go down this route they should know we will vigorously oppose the totally unnecessary mass closure of ticket offices.

“We will work hand in glove campaigning with the public who will quickly spot that this is a leap backwards by Ministers. Booking office staff are vital because they give passengers advice and assistance on ticket information, station security and can assist those with disabilities, limited mobility or young children.

“The impact of closing ticket offices would be felt by millions of people and have a detrimental impact on our communities up and down the land. Our appeal as a campaigning union is for the public to resist and stand with us in this resistance.

“We also need MPs across the House of Commons to make it clear they will not allow the railways to be damaged in this way. We need clarity from the government about their plans, and what this means for our members so that we have a railway network which works for all.”


Southeastern’s consultation will take place in phases. The first phase will be on 40 tickets offices in Southeastern’s Metro area that each sell fewer than 50 tickets daily and where customers can use Pay-As-You-Go (tap in, tap out) for their journey. Many of these ticket offices sell 10 tickets or less daily at the window.

Consultation is open from today for the Metro stations and all other stations will be consulted on in Autumn this year.


  1. For heavens sake, we are being turned into a community of robots !! Not all of us want to use tec, but like to have a ” real ” ticket in our hands !

    • Barbara, its 2023. Tech has been in place for around two decades now and will only get more ubiquitous as the years go on. Best to evolve with the times, or end up like a dinosaur.

      • Anon, humans have been around for a lot longer than tech, so why the hell should we give in to it so easily? Machines were designed to assist us, not to control us, and it’s about time we set a few boundaries.

  2. On stations with human beings selling tickets, they often advise the cheapest wag to travel, whether there are any special offers and any delays etc. The on-line purchasing doesn’t do any of that!

  3. Keith, if you go online and Google Trainline that gives you a lot of info, ie if train is running on time and different prices etc.
    I admit it’s not like speaking to someone for advice, but I hope that helps

    • Stanley, I’m afraid that’s not too helpful, especially for those of us who want to boycott online “services”. When I use a ticket office I rely on the vocal cords and ears that I was born with; I do NOT want to rely on expensive, fickle gadgets and I do NOT want to do the job that TSSA members are experts in. Nobody should EVER be forced to do anything online, even if they are capable of doing so; this is a trap and we must never be fooled during the internet’s honeymoon period.

      • I didn’t say you need to go online, I said ” If you go online “, I’m not telling anyone to do or not to do anything.
        Just trying to help someone out if they weren’t aware of the info that this particular website offers.
        I don’t understand why you have to come back attacking me for trying to be helpful !

        • Stanley, I’m not attacking you personally, I’m attacking the railway bosses. They are in effect bullying everybody into going online and if anybody resists then they will be ridiculed and labelled as nuisances. And it’s not just the railway bosses; the supermarket bosses are equally unpleasant through their rollout of self-service tills. In fact, we are being attacked from all sides and if we don’t kick up a fuss then the greedy fat cats will get their way.

        • The honeymoon period is the period when internet usage remains free to ordinary users. I’m pretty sure things will change for the worse once the last 10 percent of the population have been lured onto it. It’s still pretty usable, but it’s only a matter of time before they start degrading the service levels for people who don’t throw money at it.

          • I hear what you are saying, thanks for making that clear, and I do agree.
            Unfortunately this is the direction the world is moving in, I’m sure years ago people had fears when gas and electricity was developed, but I believe our biggest fear will be AI, now that is something different.

      • “we must never be fooled during the internet’s honeymoon period.”

        We’re moving to web3.0

        The internets honeymoon period was over at the end of the 90s/start of the 2000s.

        “internet usage remains free to ordinary users”

        I mean, it still does.

        “It’s still pretty usable, but it’s only a matter of time before they start degrading the service levels for people who don’t throw money at it.”

        People have been saying the same since the days of usenet boards and IRC chat in the mid 90s.

        • In the 1990s online shopping was a distant fantasy; now it’s virtually compulsory. In the 1990s every High Street had several High Street banks; now it’s almost impossible to find a cashier, let alone a bank manager. There is no comparison between then and now.

  4. The Managing Director says “Customers love our people not our ticket offices”. How DARE he tell me what I do or don’t love. I often go out of my way to find a proper staffed ticket office with a firm counter and a human who FACES me rather than one who stands behind my back or who needs to grab my phone.

    If he thinks my priority is speed and convenience and that I’m too impatient to queue at a kiosk then he is mistaken; people like him need to learn that rail travel should not be turned into a lonely stressful experience.

    • I don’t love any railway staff- I don’t have a close relationship with any of them- but I appreciate their help and advice.

  5. This is a result of the industrial action, I will purchase my ticket on the train in the absence of a ticket office, they can not fine you if you have the ability to pay. They threatened me with court action once even though I purchased a ticket at the other end. I ignored the letter threatening to take me to court because I had purchased my ticket and therfore there was nothing that they could do.

    • That’s incorrect.
      In order to travel, you must be in possession of a ticket or authority to travel, vefore you board the train. If you haven’t got this permit, then you’ll face a penalty.
      If the ticket office
      is closed, and the ticket machine isn’t working, then, as soon as you board the train, you should seek out the guard, explain the situation, and pay for your ticket.

        • Agreed.
          But that’s pretty standard for this individual (take a look on some other articles)

          As moronic as replying to someone who had a bad experience at a restaurant. “Well, what kind of table service and food do you get cooked for you at home” As though it’s of any relevance.

        • For one thing, “Sparky” is wrong about trains. They’re not usually cold and the toilets are usually all right. Apropos facilities in cars, well, cars don’t have a toilet, so trains are better than cars in that respect. I don’t know about wi-fi, as I’m hardly ever in a car.

        • Actually, Scott, the response from PQ was extremely relevant, and neither pointless nor pathetic. The tone of Sparky’s comment suggested that he/she would rather be in a car than on a train. Or did you interpret it differently from the average person?

          • Yes, clearly I’m not normal. To come to the conclusion that Sparky in his or her comment, didn’t mention a car. But did mention first hand experience on a train. “No WiFi on lots of them” would suggest in fact, they use trains frequently.

            If they had tried to compare the two, then yes a perfectly reasonable response.

          • Oh, and for the record..
            I’m in agreement with you on the fact technology shouldn’t really take over a customer service based role. And I also go out of my way to either speak to someone physically. Be it in supermarkets, trans stations or even when phoning and getting through to an automated service. I will always opt to speak to a human.

            Maybe we’re both not, “normal” saying that. You’re not allowed to use the term ‘normal’ nowadays.

  6. Every station should be well-staffed during operating hours and EVERY train should have a guard (or two or three).
    That way, trains and stations can be kept clean, efficient and ,above all, safe from the criminals and weirdos who seem drawn to railways when they don’t really have any reason to be there.
    Just wait till Thanet Parkway opens completely. Deserted apart from a few nervous passengers and marauding yobs. No staff!!
    If the train companies won’t adequately staff their properties they should step aside and let the public run the trains in the public’s interests.
    Properly staffed and protected trains and stations would bring in MORE travellers, not just the ones with no choice.

    • “Deserted apart from a few nervous passengers and marauding yobs”

      Given its about two/three miles in both directions from anywhere “yobs” normally congregate and isn’t really walkable, what in the histrionic, crystal ball gazing bs is this?

      You don’t need to live in fear of “yobs”, all your life.

    • It’s actually considered offensive nowadays to call people normal. Because it implies that others, well… aren’t normal.

      I personally can’t get my head around it. But that’s the world we live in.

      • “Normal” is a perfectly good word.
        The toilets on this train are normally working.
        I normally catch the 19:07 to Tooting.
        It’s normal for me to have bacon and eggs for breakfast.

      • Reply to Scott(5.10 comment) No it isn’t. We are all still perfectly able to use “normal” as before. in its usual normal way. I don’t know what uber-sensitive people Scott is talking to. In my social circles, it’s normal to use the word normal.

  7. Ok, let me explain in more simple terms as you seem to take everything in its literal sense. (Take loving railway staff for example)

    To describe someone as ‘normal’ is considered offensive to those you are excluding from the term.
    If you’re still not following then no need to reply. Because I’ve already wasted a few minutes even trying to explain to you and I’ll not entertain a reply on this particular subject.

    • I think that saying “Customers love our people” is an absurd and sentimentalized exaggeration.

    • I think that saying “Customers love our people” is an absurd and sentimentalized exaggeration.

  8. Oops. My mistake. I assumed you was, ‘M.M Rees” given your reply was what I’d expect from them.

    Either way, this has digressed into something not worth debating.

  9. I’ve never found a problem with buying a ticket onboard. I refuse to use the ticket machine or self service checkouts at supermarkets/shops.

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