King’s Lynn station staff to be balloted for strike action

Train leaving King's Lynn Railway Station ANL-160316-152440009
Train leaving King's Lynn Railway Station ANL-160316-152440009
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Rail staff in Lynn are to be balloted for strike action in a dispute over proposed reforms of ticketing services.

The station is one of more than 80 affected by the plans, which would see ticket offices either fully or partially closed and replaced with staff serving passengers on concourse areas in new “station host” roles.

Union leaders claim the measures will lead to job losses and a reduction in the quality of services to passengers.

But Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the parent company of West Norfolk’s main rail operator Great Northern, says it is disappointed by the union’s stance.

Currently, the Lynn ticket office is open from 5.30am to 8pm on weekdays, 5.30am to 7.30pm on Saturdays and 7.50am to 5pm on Sundays.

Under the proposals, those hours will be cut to 7-11am on weekdays only .

Station hosts would also be on concourses from 5am until 10pm Mondays to Saturdays and 7.45am to 10pm on Sundays to help passengers buy tickets or obtain connection information.

But RMT union bosses claim the move could lead to the loss of up to 130 jobs, pay cuts for staff who remain and a “devastating” impact on services to the public.

They say members will be issued with ballot papers on Tuesday and accused the company of not listening to workers or passengers.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “These plans fly in the face of the response from thousands of passengers who objected to the closure of ticket offices and the de-staffing of stations, as Govia drives on with plans for a ‘faceless railway’ where the public are left to fend for themselves on rammed-out, dangerous and unreliable services.

“We remain available for serious and meaningful talks, but we will not sit back while Britain’s worst rail franchise moves to the next act in its on-going production, Carry On Carnage.

But GTR bosses say the plans mean both staff, and station facilities, will be available to the public for longer than they are at the moment.

They insisted there will be no compulsory redundancies and all affected staff will get a pay rise or an extra allowance.

They also dismissed the threat of strikes as “entirely unwarranted.

Passenger service director Keith Jipps said: “We have listened to passengers and modified our proposals.

“Our new Station Hosts will be paid more, be able to work in safety and provide passengers with better customer service.

“The RMT is not concerned with improving the experience for passengers and are dismissing significant improvements to the terms and conditions for staff.”

Earlier this year, GTR was forced to deny suggestions thatit planned to shut ticket offices altogether after an online petition protesting against the idea was set up.

More than 13,000 people have now signed it.