With the increase in electronic tickets and contactless payments, sales of traditional paper tickets for railway journeys have declined markedly. Last year, London Overground sold one million fewer tickets than it did in 2016, with less than two per cent of passenger journeys now being supported by a paper ticket.
As a result, the demand for ticket offices to be open, and the times at which they are, has also changed.
London Overground is therefore making changes to the times that its ticket offices are open. However, it is still honouring its commitment that all stations will be staffed from first to last train, and there will be no change in opening hours at the busiest ticket offices, including New Cross Gate, West Croydon, Walthamstow Central, Willesden Junction, Crystal Palace and Chingford.
It had been proposed that, with the significant reduction in office-based ticket sales, ticket offices at many stations on the London Overground network would have permanently closed. The Mayor and TfL listened to concerns raised by the trade unions, and worked with Arriva Rail London, the operator of London Overground, which conducted a station-by-station review of the network, including consulting its staff for their views.
Following this, a decision was taken to keep ticket offices staffed during those times of day when customers need them most. All London Overground stations that currently have a staffed ticket office will continue to do so and, at many of the busiest stations across the network, there will be no changes to operating hours, with ticket offices being staffed for the majority of the day.
The only exception will be at Brondesbury, where the station will be redeveloped without a ticket office to allow room for a lift to be built as part of the Department for Transport Access for All scheme that will make the station step-free from street to platform.
A number of the busy ticket offices on the network, such as Camden Road and Hackney Central, will have their hours tailored to meet customer demand, providing not only a ticket office service to customers in the morning peak, but also, as required, in the afternoon and into the evening during the week, and at weekends.
Less-busy ticket offices, such as Honor Oak Park and Carpenders Park, will be staffed every weekday in the morning peak and will also be available for at least one day over the weekend.
Even the quietest ticket offices, such as Bruce Grove and Penge West, will still be staffed every weekday in the morning from 07:30 until 10:00, so that they are staffed when customers need them most, ensuring a consistent set of hours across the network.
Rory O’Neill, TfL’s general manager for London Overground, said: “The way customers want to pay for their train fares is changing with fewer visiting a ticket office at the start of their journey. These planned changes will help ensure the ticket offices are available when customers need them. We are working to modernise London Overground to meet changing customer needs and are investing in new technology including the latest ticket vending machines to give our customers a greater range of options when using our services.”
Despite the announced changes, safety and security remain the top priority for TfL. All stations will continue to be staffed from 15 minutes before the first train of the day until 15 minutes after the last – a continuing commitment that makes London Overground stations stand out on the national rail network. Staff will continue to be available at all London Overground stations to provide customers with any help and assistance needed, including journey planning and ticketing.