All ticket offices at London Overground stations (including Sydenham and Forest Hill) are to be closed within the next 18 months. That’s the conclusion of a new consultation launched by Arriva Rail who run London Overground on behalf of TfL. Arriva describe the changes in their consultation letter as “journey modernisation” and a “planned improvement to customer experience”.
Arriva correctly point out that due to ticket machines, season tickets and Freedom Passes only around five per cent of transactions now take place at ticket offices. However, five per cent of passengers still amounts to around a quarter of a million passengers per year currently using ticket offices at both Sydenham and Forest Hill stations. That’s still more than 600 people per day using each local ticket office.
It simply isn’t acceptable to claim that machine-only ticket sales work on the London Underground, so why can’t they work here. This fails to take into account that tickets sold on the Underground operate largely within six zones in urban London and that there are few rail discount schemes. On rail services such as the Overground, passengers want to use ticket offices because they often wish to buy a more complex range of tickets to a much wider number of destinations. And they want to purchase them with discounts based on time of travel or which are only available to discount-card holders. London Overground admit that current ticket machines at local stations simply cannot cope with such complexities and that there are no machines currently available which can do this job.
Sydenham Society is in discussions to try to minimise or avoid disruptions to passengers.