Passengers criticise bid to stop sale of advance and super off-peak fares at ticket offices

The two most affordable tickets offered by Greater Anglia were only going to be available by app, ph

The two most affordable tickets offered by Greater Anglia were only going to be available by app, phone or online from April 8 Picture: LUCY TAYLOR - Credit: Lucy taylor

A last-minute U-turn by Greater Anglia means the stealthy withdrawal of their cheapest fares at ticket offices is being scrapped.

Plans to stop selling advance and super off-peak tickets at stations were due to be introduced from April 8, meaning the cheapest fares would only be available online, via the Greater Anglia app or via a pay-per-minute phoneline.

These changes are no longer being made, meaning customers will be able to continue to buy any ticket in stations across East Anglia.

A Greater Anglia spokesman said: “Greater Anglia is constantly considering different retailing options, to make the purchasing of tickets as convenient as possible for customers.

“We will continue to keep our retailing options under review, but no changes are planned in the near future.”

The company has previously stated it believes “passengers should have access to a ticketing system that is user-friendly, where help and advice from a trained representative is available and accessible to all”.

The rail provider says 96% of advance tickets and two-thirds of super off-peak tickets are bought online or outside the ticket office, with the proportion of customers doing so growing each month.

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Although the proposed removal of ticket sales will not go ahead, the company said it would allow them to “continue to offer the most competitive fares on these great value tickets”.

When asked how the original proposal would help keep ticket prices competitive, Greater Anglia did not provide a comment.

Before the climb-down, the Anglia Rail Users Group (ARUG) felt the impact would hit hardest “the remaining 4% of buyers, including the elderly, the less able and other vulnerable parts of our society, and a policy change like this discriminates against them.”

A spokesman for the group said: “After extensive engagement with GA on behalf of ARUG users and the wider customer base, we are glad that our input has been heard and that Greater Anglia will not go ahead with the change that could have potentially isolated older users from accessing their services.”

John Warren, 72, from Ipswich, discovered the plans for April 8 when he visited the Ipswich station ticket office.

Mr Warren said: “I’ll often buy my tickets weeks in advance, and I always buy them at the station.

“It was only because one of the staff told me there was a change coming that I was made aware of this, and I’m very glad it’s not going ahead.

“For me, it’s just much easier to deal with someone face-to-face.”

A DfT spokesman said: “All passengers should be able to access all fares that are available, regardless of what technology they use.

“Passengers who want to buy walk-up fares from ticket offices should not be disadvantaged and we will use the powers at our disposal to ensure this is the case if needs be.”