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Diss and Stowmarket ticket offices saved after government change of heart

The government has dropped its plans to close railways ticket offices across the country, in a shock U-turn.

As recently as September, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak backed the planned closures, but today, Transport Secretary Mark Harper announced that the plans had been cancelled.

Among the offices which had been under threat were Stowmarket and Diss, with both now having been preserved for the forseeable future.

Ticket offices like the one in Diss have been saved after a government u-turn.
Ticket offices like the one in Diss have been saved after a government u-turn.

Mr Harper said: “The consultation on ticket offices has now ended, with the Government making clear to the rail industry throughout the process that any resulting proposals must meet a high threshold of serving passengers.

“We have engaged with accessibility groups throughout this process and listened carefully to passengers as well as my colleagues in Parliament.

“The proposals that have resulted from this process do not meet the high thresholds set by ministers, and so the Government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.”

Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union general secretary Mick Lynch said the announcement was a “resounding victory” for the campaign against the closures.

He called for “an urgent summit with the Government” to agree “a different route for the rail network that guarantees the future of our ticket offices and station staff jobs”.

Adrian Ramsay, co-leader of the Green Party and Green MP candidate for Waveney Valley said: "This is great news, and a huge victory for people power. Having personally objected to the closures planned for our region and been at Diss station -in front of a broken down ticket machine - to protest the planned closure, I know the strength of feeling on this issue.

"It means that ticket offices at Diss and Stowmarket stations, under the threat of closure, are reprieved. So many people have written to me or spoken to me about this issue on the doorstep. In our rural area, with so little public transport, and such complicated train ticketing systems, ticket offices are an important source of advice and help.

The plans had originally been put forward by The Rail Delivery Group this summer, and would have seen 1,007 train station outlets close, however, a strong response to a public consultation on the closures forced the government to rethink the proposals.