LEIGH and Chalkwell stations will benefit from contactless ticketing, following a campaign by Southend West MP Anna Firth.
However, this news came as the Rail Delivery Group unveiled proposals to close the majority of the country’s 1,000 railway ticket offices, despite huge union opposition and public outcry.
The Department for Transport has announced that Leigh and Chalkwell stations, on the c2c line, are to be included in the 53 stations set to introduce tap-in tap-out ticketing by the end of the year.
Contactless ticketing will be rolled out at Benfleet, Westcliff, Southend Central, Southend East, Thorpe Bay, and Shoeburyness, allowing what Mrs Firth has called “hassle free” travel throughout the Southend area and beyond.
In relation to the contactless ticketing Mrs Firth said: “I am absolutely delighted that contactless ticketing will be coming to Chalkwell and Leigh.
“Like many people in Southend West, I am a regular commuter into London, and this is going to make a huge difference in reducing the extra hassle that queuing up for your ticket, picking the right fare and then locating said ticket on your journey home brings.”
Responding to news of the proposed ticket office closures, Jill Allen-King, who is blind and a well known local campaigner on behalf of blind and partially-sighted people, raised a number of concerns, particularly around ‘in-person assistance’, in an email to the MP. She concluded: “I hope Anna will raise this as a matter of urgency with the Minister of transport.”
Mrs Firth responded, saying: “As soon as I read the announcement (of proposed ticket office closures) I thought of you, so I spoke in the Chamber this morning and raised most of your points with the Minister.
“I have asked a member of my team to write to you by email and include a copy of the Ministers answer.
“In short, I have been absolutely assured that there is no question of any station in Southend West losing in-person assistance.”
Mrs Firth has also been campaigning for a number of other transport improvements, including step-free access at Chalkwell Station and improving bus links across the city.
As part of her contactless campaign, Mrs Firth hosted a petition on her website and held rallies at Chalkwell and Leigh stations, as well as raising the topic in the House of Commons on four separate occasions.
She also met with both Rail Minister Huw Merriman and the Chief Executive of c2c Rail, Rob Mullen, to discuss how contactless ticketing will be rolled out.
She said: “I want to thank everyone who has supported my campaign, especially all those who signed the petition on my website.
“Of course, I know that many people do still prefer to use traditional paper tickets, and we all appreciate having face-to-face contact with station staff.
“Therefore, (in relation to the contactless ticketing) following today’s announcement I have contacted c2c and asked for their assurance that there are no plans to remove the option to use paper tickets nor to remove any members of staff from our stations.”
Picture: Anna Firth campaigning at Chalkwell station
Contact us. Visit: https://leigh-on-sea.news/contact-us