I have recently managed to lay hands on an official document, outlining how South Western Railway intends to proceed with its station office closure programme.

I quote a comment in the document about the recent consultation exercise: “It has become clear customers have concerns about the transition to digital ticketing.”  

Given the numbers nationally of protests, a record of some 700,000, I don’t think there is much doubt our views are more trenchant and emphatic than a piffling concern about transition. We want station offices to stay OPEN. Transition is secondary.

This is how a large organisation operates when it wants to get its way in the face of inconvenient truth. Predetermine the outcome you seek, in this case office closures, and go through the motions of consultation.

Publish, eventually, the ‘convenient’ truth, which you will claim backs up your predetermined decision – and go ahead.

In the document it states: “While we intend to close our ticket offices...”  followed by some peripheral concessions.

Will these offices close? You bet they will , unless...

Will Farnborough airport expand? You bet it will , unless...

Will the banks go on closing, until none are left? You bet they will, unless...

I don’t pretend to have an answer to what is a clearly emerging and strengthening trend, but if we don’t find one, we will go on being trampled on and marginalised.

One more quote: “There is a compelling need to modernise our stations” – for which, read cut staff, reduce services and rake in more money for less “product.” 

I am not against rigorous financial management. I am arguing there is as compelling need for SWR to give as much attention to its customers as to its bank balance.

Watch out for self-serving sharp practice and be prepared to fight back and expose it.

By David Wylde

St James’s Terrace, Farnham