The planned widespread closure of railway station ticket offices in England - including Ilkley, Menston, Guiseley and Horsforth - 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.

In West Yorkshire, the move would have seen the axe fall on ticket offices at Bingley, Bradford Forster Square, Guiseley, 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"

Ilkley Gazette:

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!"

Shipley MP Philip Davies welcomed today’s announcement ticket offices will remain open.

Mr Davies said: “I am delighted that ticket offices will remain open. I have been clear in my opposition to closing the ticket offices and made it clear at the time when it was announced a consultation would take place, that ticket offices across the Shipley constituency are an extremely valuable resource and both my constituents and I want to see them remain open. I also met with the Rail Minister and made clear the strength of local opposition to closing our ticket offices and also raised this publicly in Parliament.

“I am pleased common sense has prevailed and the offices will remain open to support all my rail customers across Shipley and the rest of the country.”