Many will have seen the recent plans supported by the Government from the Rail Delivery Group, the collective organisation for all the railway companies, to close thousands of railway station ticket offices.

The public consultation has now closed on this but the campaign to stop it is still gathering momentum with opposition MPs, rail passenger groups, disability campaign groups, trades unions and even the Tories’ own MPs and Councillors joining the calls for a rethink.

I have huge concerns about these plans. The spin put forward by the privatised rail companies is that the railway network needs ‘modernising’ and there is no need for ticket offices and a physical presence on the station.

My view is that this is not modernisation but just purely about money-saving. I have recently studied the National Rail website and found that only Bolton Trinity Street has public Wifi available. This does not strike me as an industry moving bravely into the future. How do they expect people to do everything online if they have to rely solely on their mobile data connection?

The general state of provision for disabled passengers is currently inconsistent at best. For example, both Moses Gate and Walkden stations, used regularly by my constituents, do not have a ramp available for train access. None of the stations regularly used by my constituents provide what is known as a ‘set-down and pick-up service’ from car parks or drop off points. This situation is altogether unacceptable.

This is not just a Bolton problem but one that is seen across the region and country as a whole. Only 48 per cent of stations in the whole of the North of England have the desirable standard of step-free access.

The Rail companies and Government should be focusing on fixing these problems, rather than cutting services and staff numbers. 

This stands in stark contrast to what Labour is doing in power, right here in Bolton. We are implementing the Bee Network bus network, which will bring lower fares, more reliable services, greener transport and more say for the public. Maybe the train network should be next.