Steve Brine gets South West Trains to Winchester to hear your thoughts on travel centre plans.
Prospective Winchester MP, Steve Brine, has met with the Head of Stations for South West Trains as well as the Winchester Area Manager to discuss future plans for Winchester Railway Station and its dedicated travel centre.
As widely reported, the train operator is proposing to close the dedicated travel centre and offer its services within the main ticket office.
Steve Brine commented; “I don’t believe the closure of our travel centre would represent a step forward for Winchester, both for those of us who live here and the many thousands who chose to visit each year. Since news of SWT’s proposal emerged last month I have conducted a wide-ranging public consultation across Winchester and, judging by the number of people who have contacted me in the past few weeks, neither do a large number of people in this area.
“I put all of the comments received so far to Andrew Fairbank and Chris Haresign of SWT including many wider points relating to station access, the need to update existing toilet facilities, as well as the importance of the travel centre for elderly and disabled passengers who cannot stand for long periods in a queue at the ticket office and the value local people obviously attach to the travel centre and its staff.
“However, they did confirm that this move is part of a much wider company policy, mandated by their franchise agreement, to reflect changing patterns in the way people access their services and they did confirm their intention to close the travel centre when the Southampton side of the station is overhauled. Their belief is that a larger ticket office, a ‘slow’ lane for detailed journey enquiries and the introduction of more automated machines will not see a loss of service to passengers – merely a change in the way those services are accessed by the public.
“No timetable is yet in place for this process to begin but we did establish such a change to ‘customer facing services’ will require the agreement of National Rail and the Department for Transport. A 48-day consultation process, through Passenger Focus, will be included within this but there is as yet no detail on what form this will take and I was left in no doubt whatsoever that public comment is unlikely to change their overall view.
“If Winchester wants to keep its travel centre we are going to have to do it the hard way, I would urge readers of the Hampshire Chronicle to write personally to South West Trains and tell them Winchester needs a dedicated travel and tourist office that is very much valued by locals and visitors alike.”
What do you think? Add your voice to the campaign and your thoughts on the travel centre via firstname.lastname@example.org
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Pictured above (from left to right) are: Chris Haresign, Steve Brine, Andrew Fairbank (Head of Stations, SWT)