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First Capital Connect changes to booking office hours

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Dear Loughborough Junction

You may recall that you contacted us earlier this year in relation to the proposed changes to booking office hours by First Capital Connect. At the time we informed you that we had submitted a formal objection to the proposals on the basis that they would significantly reduce the ability of passengers to access rail products at the stations affected. In addition, we also stated that we were hopeful that the company would reconsider their proposals in the light of our and passengers’ concerns about the impact of their proposals.

I am pleased to inform you that, following extensive negotiations with First Capital Connect (in collaboration with Passenger Focus), we have been able to achieve a significantly better proposal for change than had originally been proposed.

In particular, the following changes to the original proposal have been agreed:

* All of First Capital Connect’s stations will retain their booking office facilities and will remain staffed, although the exact booking office opening hours may change;

* Over 30% of the booking office opening hours (2261/2 hours per week) that had been proposed to be cut will be retained, and some stations (such as Alexandra Palace and Loughborough Junction) will remain open at evening and weekends when they would have been otherwise unstaffed;

* No station booking offices will be closed where the average number of booking office transactions exceed the Secretary of State’s agreed minimum standard of 12 ticket sales per hour;

* In response to our objection to reducing ticket office opening hours at London Blackfriars, Elephant & Castle and Loughborough Junction, First Capital Connect have agreed to retain the existing opening hours except on those weekends where no services are running from these stations due to engineering works;

* For a trial period of two months, First Capital Connect will provide staff at eight stations that will be able to support passengers using the ticket machines and provide general assistance. At the end of the trial, a further review will be undertaken to assess any passenger problems with obtaining tickets with a view to permanently restoring booking office facilities at these stations where problems arise;

* City Thameslink, London Blackfriars, Finsbury Park, Bedford, Luton Airport Parkway, Hertford North, St Albans, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City stations are staffed 24 hours per day. At most of these stations, tickets will be available from staff at ticket barriers for those unable to purchase tickets at ticket machines when booking offices are closed. In addition, the ticket office will remain open at Hertford North on Sundays for Arsenal and some other Premiership home matches;

* First Capital Connect have agreed to ensure that facilities such as waiting rooms which would have been affected by a removal of booking office hours will be kept open;

* First Capital Connect have promised to upgrade their ticket machines to enable them to issue weekly and monthly season tickets which are currently only available at ticket offices, and will install top up facilities for Oyster cards at London stations. Changes are being made to maintenance regimes to ensure that ticket machines are available and have adequate change and ticket stock wherever possible;

* First Capital Connect have promised additional security measures at stations and works to tackle lineside graffiti at a number of locations and to consider introducing a ‘Community Ambassador’ scheme to encourage use of the railway by people who currently are not rail users. Customer Information Screens are being installed at all stations on the Wimbledon Loop providing advice on delays and cancellations to services;

We recognise that this revised proposal will still lead to reductions in booking office hours at some stations, but we believe that by engaging in negotiations with the operator we have been able to agree significant concessions and improvements for passengers using First Capital Connect’s services. Further details on the proposals are available on our website at http://www.londontravelwatch.org.uk/document/3836/get

Yours sincerely

London Travel Watch

David Rose
Casework Support Officer

Ref: 30007 / D

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Author: loughboroughjunction

The Loughborough Junction Forum is a grassroots organisation set up by local people to provide all members of the community with a way to improve the Loughborough Junction area. It is intended that it provides eyes, ears and a collective voice for the community. All participants are invited to provide accounts of what they see happening within the area and to share their concerns and ideas with the forum so that they can be collated and channelled to the relevant authorities.

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