Customer Focused Stations

What is being proposed?

Train operators have launched public and employee consultations, facilitated by Transport Focus and London TravelWatch, on proposed changes to bring station staff closer to customers.

Public consultation now closed.

These proposals are designed to move staff out of ticket offices and onto station platforms and concourses to support better, face-to-face interactions, with the potential to close ticket offices in a number of locations.

New, multi-skilled ‘customer help’ roles – which are already in place at many stations – will mean staff are able to help more customers across a whole range of needs, from buying tickets, to offering travel advice and helping those with accessibility needs.

If accepted, the proposed changes would be phased in gradually. Ticket office facilities will remain open at the busiest stations and interchanges, selling the full range of tickets.

What is already changing now?

Alongside these proposals, there are a number of other improvements to retailing and accessibility taking place across the railway. These include:

Mobile phone with QR code shown

Contactless payment
The total number of tap-in-tap-out stations in England will jump to over 400 by the end of the year. As a result, a bigger range of customers can now access large chunks of the national rail network across London and the South-East by tapping in and tapping out with their contactless cards or devices to pay for their journey.

Mobile phone with QR code shown

Single leg pricing
The successful trial of single leg pricing on LNER’s routes is another important step in the simplification of fares, because it ensures customers can easily buy the cheapest combination of fares for their journey, both out and back. Operators are now looking at how this can be extended further across the rail network.

Mobile phone with QR code shown

Digital ticketing
Digital tickets have made it easier and faster for customers to buy and manage tickets online. Half of all ticket sales in rail are online, with even more using ‘tap-in-tap-out’ options on smartcards or phones. The shift to digital tickets has reduced the need for physical ticket offices. And it’s never been easier to plan your journey, with different apps and online retailers helping you to get the best fare for your trip.

Mobile phone with QR code shown

Passenger Assist
The rail industry’s Passenger Assistance app, launched two years ago, enables anyone requiring it to request assistance for their journey at the touch of a button. This has already supported 3.5million forms of assistance since it was launched. Assistance could involve help navigating the station as well as arranging ramps to provide access to and from a train.

The industry is committed to going further in making buying tickets easier and simpler. Visit Great British Railways Transition Team's website for more information on the industry's plan to improve Fares, Ticketing & Retail.

Why is this being proposed?

The proposals would help bring station retailing up to date from the mid-90s, when the rules on how to sell tickets were last reviewed, long before the invention of the smartphone. Back then, an estimated 82% of all sales were from ticket offices, compared to just 12% on average today.

Bringing staff out from offices would allow the railway to respond to that generational shift in customer behaviour, as other industries and organisations have done. Most airlines and many banks and supermarkets, and in the transport industry, Transport for London, have evolved to better meet their customers needs.

The changes would mean a more visible and accessible staff presence overall in stations during staffed hours, on ticket concourses and on platforms.

Icon of mobile phone with QR code shown
88% of customer sales already happen without customers setting foot in a ticket office.
Icon of a ticket vending machine
an estimated 99% of ticket office transactions could have been made at Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) or online last year. Where needed, TVMs will be improved.

Real life examples

What is being proposed is already in place at many stations and is already benefitting both passengers and staff.

Bicester Village and Oxford Parkways
Newbury and Reading Green Park

" It is very much a better working environment, I’ve got more job satisfaction helping out the customers. "

Customer Sales Advisor at Newbury Station, which already adopts a customer focused approach.
Staff member at information desk talking to customer

Our proposal pledges

Informed by extensive and ongoing engagement with accessibility, safety and passenger groups, rail companies are also committing to a series of pledges for passengers.

Staff helping passenger at TVM

Across the network as a whole, there will be more staff available to give face-to-face help to customers out in stations than there are today

Staff at stations will be more visible and readily available on platforms and station concourses, helping plan journeys, use digital and self-service ticketing and be a more visible presence to deter anti-social behaviour.

Customers will never have to travel out of their way to buy tickets

Train operators are upgrading ticket machines to make sure you can still buy the most popular tickets at stations. In many cases extra staff and guidance will be available in public areas of stations, to help show how to buy tickets using phones or self-service machines.

Those with accessibility needs will always be supported

You will still be able to book assistance two hours in advance of your journey either using the Passenger Assistance app or via a dedicated phoneline available 24/7 and you will always be able to access help and advice from a trained representative. New mobile assistance teams will be created to offer extra help where needed, including for stations which are currently unstaffed. The commitment to the 20-minute 'turn up and go' will be maintained. 

All staff will be treated fairly and roles will be more engaging

The industry will always remain open to talks with the RMT union about securing the long-term future of the industry and giving our staff rewarding, long-term careers in rail. Support and extra training will be given to staff who wish to move to the new customer reception role.

Stations impacted

These proposals and the consultation are for the 974 stations which have a DfT-controlled train operating company (TOC) as the lead operator.

This excludes stations operated by the Elizabeth Line, London Overground, Merseyrail, North Yorkshire Moors Railway Company, Transport for Wales, TfL, Transport for Greater Manchester, and Transport Scotland.

It benefits the people who are buying tickets, but also benefits the staff. It makes it so much easier for me to travel. "

Passenger at the customer-focused Oxford Parkway station
Customer at station

Consultation details

Local public consultation now closed

Between Wednesday 5th July and Friday 1 September 2023, passengers were invited to comment to transport watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch on proposals made by rail operators about how tickets are sold and to improve customer service.

We are now working with both watchdogs to review your feedback and will keep you updated on next steps. We would like to thank everyone who took part.

Frequently Asked Questions

How quickly are these changes going to take place? Will we be given plenty of notice?

Any changes to ticket offices are subject to a consultation period of a minimum of 21 days for the public to respond, which is being facilitated by Transport Focus and London TravelWatch with each train operator. There will also be discussions with staff and their trade union representatives as the results of public consultation become clearer. Please go to individual train company websites to see what is being proposed.

What benefits will customers see from these changes?

A key benefit of these changes is that they will greatly improve our ability to make staff available at the right place and time to help customers face-to-face rather than being restricted to just selling tickets from behind a window.

The new customer-focused multi-skilled role will mean staff are more visible to better provide advice about the best and cheapest fares, support customers with accessibility needs, so that passengers get a more tailored service and staff are able to enjoy more engaging, and varied roles.

How will I continue to buy my ticket at the station?

Train companies are committed to smoothing the transition of moving staff closer to customers, and the proposed changes would be phased in gradually. An estimated 99% of all transactions made at ticket offices last year can be at TVMs or online now and, where needed, TVMs across the network will be improved to make sure that customers can still buy the right tickets at stations.

Ticket office facilities will remain open at the busiest stations and interchanges, selling the full range of tickets while the transition takes place. Following these changes, if a customer is unable to buy a specific ticket before boarding the train because it was unavailable at the station, they would be able to buy one during their journey, at a ticket office enroute, or at their destination.

Will you be changing station opening times as a result of these changes?

No. Station operating times, and train services remain unaffected by these proposals.

Cutting ticket offices make it harder for passengers to get the cheapest and most appropriate tickets and restrict the advice they can access at the ticket office. 

Almost 9 in ten customer transactions happen without customers setting foot in a ticket office.

Our commitment to providing the right ticket at the right price has not changed. There will be a greater proportion of staff, not fewer, staff outside the ticket office on the station floor to help make sure customers continue to get the very best travel and ticket advice.

What is your offer to employees? How many people will be losing their jobs?

Our staff will always be treated fairly, and we want them to enjoy more rewarding, sustainable long-term careers in rail.

Alongside the public consultation on ticket offices, a range of options will be created for staff affected by these proposals, including moving to a new multi-skilled role and comprehensive re-training and re-skilling.

Train companies will continue to engage constructively with unions at a local level to manage the transition in a way that works best for staff.

Will you commit to no compulsory redundancies as part of this programme?

We hope to deliver these changes without the need for compulsory redundancies, but we are not able to make any commitments beyond that at this stage.

Alongside the public consultation on ticket offices, a range of options will be created for staff affected, including moving to a new skilled role and comprehensive re-training and re-skilling, and train companies will continue to engage constructively with unions at a local level to manage the transition in a way that works best for staff.

If my station is no longer staffed and my train has no one on board to help, will I be left stranded at the station?

No. Stations will remain staffed, either directly or through roving mobile teams.

Around 43% of stations already operate without ticket offices, and well-established arrangements allow customers to travel without a ticket before buying on board trains or at their destination station.

Customer Help Points are also available at many stations to offer help and advice to customers, including during emergencies. Where this is not possible, train operators will outline proposals at individual stations as part of the local consultation process.

Passenger Assist activities – providing accessibility assistance for those with reduced mobility - are not affected by these proposed changes. Our aim is that no one should be left behind, and train operators will continue to meet current obligations on accessibility. 

For a full overview of the national mitigations in place to support customers on day one, please click here.

Customer focused reform

Alongside the public consultation on ticket offices, a range of options will be created for staff affected. This includes moving to a new multiskilled role with comprehensive re-training and re-skilling, and train companies will continue to engage constructively with unions at a local level to manage the transition in a way that works best for staff.

Our Members

  • Avanti West Coast logo
  • c2c logo
  • Caledonian sleeper logo
  • Chiltern railways logo
  • crosscountry logo
  • EMR logo
  • Elizabeth line logo
  • Eurostar logo
  • Gatwick Express logo
  • Grand Central logo
  • Greater Anglia logo
  • Great Northern logo
  • GWR logo
  • Heathrow Express logo
  • Hull Trains logo
  • LNER logo
  • LNR logo
  • London overground logo
  • Merseyrail logo
  • Northern logo
  • ScotRail logo
  • Southeastern logo
  • Southern logo
  • SWR logo
  • TPE logo
  • TfW logo
  • WMR logo
  • lumo logo


Rail Delivery Group

Rail Delivery Group Ltd
​First Floor North,
​1 Puddle Dock,

  • 020 7841 8000

Copyright © 2020 Rail Delivery Group
About this Website