CAMPAIGNERS have shown their delight as potential plans to close the ticket office at Stroud railway station were scrapped. 

The UK Government announced a U-turn over plans to close the vast majority of railway station ticket offices in England, including the one in Stroud. 

In July, industry body the Rail Delivery Group unveiled proposals affecting more than 1,000 stations in England, including Stroud. 

The proposals would have seen staff moved from ticket offices to help customers elsewhere at the station.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said train operators have been asked to withdraw the proposals as they “do not meet the high thresholds set by ministers”.

Watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch  opposed every single planned closure due to issues such as the impact on accessibility.

This U-turn has been welcomed by Stroud campaigners. 

Dr Simon Opher, Labour party candidate for the Stroud constituency who campaigned to prevent the closures, said: “I’m delighted that the government has reversed its decision to close ticket offices at railway stations.

“Staffed ticket offices provide a vital lifeline for independent travel for the many people who simply cannot use ticket machines.

“In Stroud, the Labour Party, the RMT union and I fought hard to reverse this decision.

“A huge number of Stroud residents campaigned to save their ticket office and together we won. 

“It’s a great day for Stroud."

Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie said: “I am really very pleased the government has listened and has asked train operators to withdraw their ticket office closure proposals.

“The number of ticket office staff hours at Stroud railway station was not due to change but I know people were really worried.

“Ticket office staff also wanted to ensure they could continue providing the services that many local people have come to rely on and trust, particularly the elderly and more vulnerable passengers. 

“I would like to thank everyone who made their views known to me and the consultation.

"When the Secretary of State visited Stroud railway station, I was able to go through local concerns and ideas for changes to the station. 

“I collated information to communicate local concerns to ministers.

“As I have said before, technology has its place and is popular but forcing people who are not tech savvy or not online at the moment risks disenfranchising sections of our communities. "

Tony Davey, chair of Stroud Chamber of Trade, said: “The cancellation of the plans for mass ticket office closures is certainly welcome and a win for everyone, I believe.

“Making using the train more attractive will aid in its adoption, something closing offices would almost certainly of pampered. More train usage should help both the public and the train operators alike. 

“To believe there is a one-approach-suits-all in the scrapping of the service seems beyond comprehension.

“That this rushed to a consultation, in the sure knowledge that there was no robust alternative to ticket offices for an important quantity of our community at this time, is concerning.

“Undoubtedly things advance and progress, and in time there may be a solution that is more fit for purpose, but right now we both need to keep the service and be mindful that it is not reduced by stealth.”

Mayor Stella Parkes said: "We welcome this change of heart.

"The town council objected to the proposal raising concerns about the unreliability of the ticket machines and how present the current ticket staff would be on the platform if the proposals went ahead.

"Supporting people to access public transport plays an important role in reducing carbon emissions.”

Adrian Oldman, Stroud district Green Party co-coordinator, said: “This u-turn is very welcome news for the rail travellers of Stroud, who deserve the safety and convenience of a properly staffed station. 

"We hope this is the end of the matter and that it's been made clear that station staff cannot be replaced with online purchases or advice."

A Great Western Railway spokesperson said: “Our proposals were designed to balance the need to improve the experience for all our customers and reduce the cost of the industry to the taxpayer – and we developed our plans further during the consultation process. 

“Transport Focus has recognised that the majority of GWR’s plans met the standards they set to evaluate whether they represent an improvement for customers.

“ However, we recognise both passenger bodies have unresolved concerns in some areas that would require national policy decisions.

 “We will take now some time to work with the Department for Transport to understand the next steps.”