We have sent the following letter to Southern Rail.
We should like to protest strongly at Southern Rail’s current proposal to drastically reduce the opening hours of the ticket office at Horsham station.
We both travel regularly within the region - to visit one of our daughters in Chichester, to visit London and on occasion further afield, e.g. recently we travelled by train to Sheffield to visit our grand-daughter.
We both have senior citizen rail cards and so travel regularly. We find the booking service provided by the booking office at Horsham station absolutely invaluable.
Your helpful staff provide us with essential advice over routes, fares and train times, so that we can make sensible and informed choices when travelling by rail.
Without their help we would find travelling by train far more problematic. We are both elderly pensioners and find using the internet very difficult.
Indeed without the availability of a booking office we would be seriously discouraged from travelling by train.
It is the access to a human face, to be able to ask about the relevant details for a proposed trip, that makes all the difference for us.
Neither of us has good eyesight for using substitute ticket machines, so all in all, should you proceed with the virtual closure of this booking office we shall be seriously affected.
Given our generation’s limited access to computing facilities, and our difficulties using such media, we consider your proposal exceedingly ageist!
For us at least there is no substitute for human contact as a preliminary to any kind of train travel. You may not know that pensioners have a bus problem: our bus passes only become valid after 9.30 am, so most people travelling by bus will not be able to reach the station before the booking office closes - for the day!
The whole idea of pensioners travelling by train or on the bus, is that we should avoid the rush hours and the throngs of commuters who necessarily have to use the travel services early (and in the late afternoon).
Your proposals for the opening hours of the Horsham mainline station booking office appears to be predicated on commuter travel times and totally ignore the older travellers whose passes only become valid after most commuters have left.
Then of course there are the needs of grandparents taking grandchildren on various excursions during school holiday periods; this can involve considerable planning and reference to a railway booking office has in the past proved essential for us and we’re sure for many other grandparents.
It’s ironic: in your promotional publicity you encourage families to travel and you promote many interesting regional excursions, but you are now proposing to attenuate the very service in Horsham that facilitates these very same rail trips that people like us enjoy - with or without grandchildren!
Please, please reconsider your proposals for Horsham station’s booking office!
JOHN and ROSEMARIE IVATTS
Greenfields Way, Horsham
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