At the end of last year, London Overground announced that they planned to permanently close ticket offices at all London Overground stations including our local stations at Sydenham, Forest Hill and Penge West. The Sydenham Society led widespread opposition to this change. More than 600 people use the Sydenham ticket office every day and – unlike the London Underground – the range of tickets ordered by passengers is simply too complex to be dealt with by ticket machines.
After consultation with staff and passengers, London Overground have thankfully withdrawn part of their comprehensive closure programme. Ticket offices at most of our local stations, including Sydenham and Forest Hill, have been saved. But the proposal means that offices at Honor Oak Park and Penge West will be closed. The plan will also close offices higher up the line at Dalston Junction, Haggerston, Rotherhithe, Shadwell, Shoreditch High Street, Surrey Quays and Wapping. Other lines on the Overground system will also suffer. Overall, 51 Overground ticket offices will disappear out of 81 stations on the Overground – a change that is breezily described by London Overground Arriva Managing Director as “customer journey modernisation”.
There has now been a further development! At the end of October, the whole closure programme was thrown into doubt when London TravelWatch (the independent watchdog for London transport users) forced a suspension of the plans after they received an “unprecedented and overwhelming” 7,500 objections from passengers in response to the closure plans. The final decision on whether the cuts will go ahead is now with the London Mayor and Assembly.
If the proposed closures get the green light, they will not involve any cuts to staff on the platforms. All stations will continue to be staffed from 15 minutes before the first train of the day until 15 minutes after the last train.
For more information, please contact Barry Milton, Roads & Transport committee