The planned widespread closure of railway station ticket offices in England - including several in the Bradford district - has been scrapped.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the Government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.

This is in response to watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch announcing they opposed every single planned closure due to issues such as the impact on accessibility.

Every ticket office in the Bradford District apart from Bradford Interchange would have shut under the proposals.

In West Yorkshire, the move would have seen the axe fall on ticket offices at Bingley, Bradford Forster Square, Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Horsforth, Ilkley, Keighley, Menston, New Pudsey, Shipley and Todmorden.

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.”

Plans to close the vast majority of station ticket offices in England, plus Avanti West Coast’s ticket office at Glasgow Central, were brought forward by train operators and their representative body, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

This followed pressure from the UK Government to cut costs amid the drop in revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A train operator source told the PA news agency: “There is quiet fury in the rail industry about where we’ve got to.

“The plan was signed off by civil servants and ministers. They’ve U-turned.”

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, said: “Today is a victory for rail passengers across the country.
“I’m glad the government have listened to mayors and the public, calling a U-turn on plans to shut down ticket offices.
“If we want our railways to be accessible and safe for everyone, station staff are essential.”

Cllr Martin Love, of Shipley Green Party, said: " I welcome the decision to reverse the plans to close Shipley station ticket office. Shipley Green councillors opposed these ridiculous plans from the start as they would have had a significant impact on local rail users.

"Shipley station ticket office is relied on by Shipley residents not just for buying tickets but for those needing assistance when using the station, especially disabled rail users.

"The government and rail companies must now commit to the long term future of Shipley's ticket office as well as getting our rail services back on track by investing in our rail network to ensure it is fit for the 21st Century"

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Keighley and Ilkley MP Robbie Moore welcomed the decision and was keen to lay the blame for the original proposals at the feet of train operators rather than the Government.

Mr Moore said: "Today’s decision shows that every voice matters. By expressing our collective opposition we sent a strong message to Northern that their closure plans were absolutely not in the best interest of our community.

"Northern’s plans to close the Ticket Offices at both Keighley and Ilkley Train Stations were a ridiculous idea from the start and completely ignored the needs of customers.

"As soon as these ill-thought through closure proposals were announced by the Train Operator, I raised my concerns directly with the Secretary of State for Transport in the House of Commons Chamber, wrote to the Managing Director of Northern and the Rail Minister, and encouraged as many local residents to submit their objections through Northern’s public consultation.

"Today, I am pleased the Government have instructed the Train Operators to withdraw their completely misjudged closure plans which would have negatively impacted many commuters, especially passengers who have accessibility issues and require face-to-face assistance to book complicated journeys.

"A huge thanks to all who got involved to make their voices heard. We did it!"

John Grogan, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Keighley and Ilkley, said: "Common sense has prevailed in keeping the nation’s ticket offices open . The fact that the Secretary of State has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals shows that it was the Government that was behind the idea all along . Perhaps now the Ministry of Transport can concentrate on the core task of restoring a reliable rail service across the north."

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) issued a statement on behalf of the industry, including Northern, following the Minister’s statement.

RDG Chief Executive Jacqueline Starr said: “Train companies committed to a genuine consultation and worked closely with passenger bodies to build and improve on the original plans. We thank everybody who participated and for helping to make our proposals better and welcome the recognition by Transport Focus that the principle of moving staff to where they can better help passengers, is the right one.

“We listened, and we pledged that the vast majority of cases, stations with staff today would continue to be staffed tomorrow and with similar operating hours. We pledged to upgrade ticket vending machines and that all stations will have a single welcome point, developed in partnership with accessibility groups and passenger bodies. We pledged any changes would be introduced gradually, with regular feedback and review in a process fully involving London Travel Watch and Transport Focus.

“These proposals were about adapting the railway to the changing needs of customers in the smartphone era, balanced against the significant financial challenge faced by the industry as it recovers from the pandemic.

"At a time when the use of ticket offices is irreversibly declining, we also want to give our people more enriching and rewarding careers geared towards giving passengers more visible face-to-face support. While these plans won’t now be taken forward, we will continue to look at other ways to improve passenger experience while delivering value for the taxpayer. Our priority remains to secure a vibrant long-term future for the industry and all those who work in it.”