As a user of ticket offices myself, I completely share your concerns about the potential long term impacts closures might have. With Woking being a commuter town, and with four train stations serving Woking residents, I believe it is vital that they remain open.
Whilst I acknowledge that an estimated 90 per cent of all ticketed transactions were made at Ticket Vending Machines or online last year, it is clear to me that ticket offices continue to provide a vital service and support to some of our most vulnerable residents, especially the elderly and disabled.
I have already responded to the ongoing consultation and have raised these specific points:
1. Exacerbating the digital divide: Already, there several different groups, especially older residents, residents who are neurodivergent, and those who don't have access to the internet, who do not find online booking services straightforward for a variety of reasons. These groups disproportionately rely on ticket offices when using rail as a means of travel. I am concerned that closures would exacerbate the existing digital divide and make the affected groups less inclined to use train services.
2. Support for disabled customers: a number of disabled constituents have contacted my office to explain that they regularly use ticket offices to access mobility support and in-person assistance. I am particularly concerned that without easily identifiable ticket offices, disabled customers will not know where to access assistance and will therefore be less inclined to use the railway.
3. The App: from personal experience, I have found ticket apps unreliable, especially at peak times. I am not certain whether SWR and other ticketing apps will be able to cope with the increased online demand resulting from ticket office closures.