NewsPulseTotnes Town

FACT FINDERS – Who Saved Totnes Train Ticket Office?

This summer the Government backed a proposal for rail companies to close train ticket offices, causing a huge public outcry across the country.

Two Totnes politicians waded into the fray. What happened next? 

We put our finger on the Artery of Truth and check the Pulse of Facts…

 

All Aboard!

Both Caroline Voaden (Lib Dems candidate) and Anthony Mangnall MP (Cons) started campaigns against the closure of Totnes Station Ticket Office…Several months later the Government announced that rail companies should keep Ticket Offices open. Caroline Voaden and Anthony Mangnall MP both quickly posted their thoughts on the announcement via what used to be known as ‘Twitter’.

 

Government U Turn

Caroline Voaden of the Lib Dems wrote a post congratulating the hard work and commitment from all train users, welcoming this government U-turn on their own DfT approved proposal to shut down ticket offices across the country.  Voaden was clear in her tweet that it was a Government U-turn.

Just the Ticket

Anthony Mangnall MP (Cons) posted a selfie from Westminster complete with a giant ticket sign indicating he may have had a premonition of the decision enabling access to some useful and timely props. In his post, Mr Mangnall made no reference to constituents’ efforts, instead claiming a personal victory with his local campaign on the decision. He stated clearly he was pleased that DfT and rail companies had listened.

So who did save Totnes Train Ticket Office? 

Tickets Please!

The Government’s ‘Department for Transport’ approved the proposal to shut Ticket Offices. In September 2023, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was happy to state that closing ticket offices was “the right thing for the British public and British taxpayers” as “only one in 10 tickets are sold currently in ticket offices”. Our own Totnes Station has more than 640 thousand passengers flowing through every year!

 

Super Saver

Rail companies are controlled tightly under contract to the Department for Transport. Since COVID and a long running dispute between rail workers and employers there has been a deep financial crisis across the railways (and it continues). Train operators and government have been looking at ways to slash its subsidy (which runs into billions of pounds).

Government Ministers maintained that the cuts were ‘industry-led’. The reality is that they were driven ultimately by the Treasury.

Backwards facing

When the Government U-turn on the Ticket Offices was announced, rail bosses were furious. They reminded the press that it was in fact the Government who had approved the decision to cut the train ticket offices in the first place.

A senior rail source stated: “All of these plans were approved by officials and ministers at the DfT. To say they fell short of their expectations is totally disingenuous.”

Lost Luggage

So was it Anthony Mangnall or Caroline Voaden who won the day?

Even the most generous assessment would struggle to back up Anthony Mangnall’s claim that it was his campaign that succeeded in keeping Ticket Offices open.

750,000 people signed petitions and consultations against the proposal; either Mr Mangnall mobilised almost the entirety of Devon (population 794,000) or the campaigns from across the country involved a wide coalition– as Caroline Voaden stated- of train users and charities against the Conservative-led Government proposals.

No reservation

Either way, Rail bosses have been scathing in their assessment of what many see as the latest in a succession of Government U-turns, and the way in which the whole situation had been handled.

Meanwhile, most constituents are simply relieved, with the more cynical amongst them raising eyebrows wondering if the whole thing was in fact orchestrated to give something positive for Conservative MPs to celebrate and provide something useful for them to do with large cardboard props.

‘Dr Wotson’

(Note to Readers: If you spot something that needs a Pulse Fact Check- email the Editor Peter Shearn at info@totnespulse.co.uk)

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David Matthews
David Matthews
4 months ago

The cynic in me (tell me I’m in error…) tells me that some Politicians, local and otherwise, felt it safe to come aboard when they understood that 90% of the population were firmly against the closure of the ticket offices. You may not have noticed ? – the small group of committed people – certainly in Totnes, who determinedly and publicly campaigned for this cause. People Power in action.

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