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Rail firm backtracks on plans to leave Elephant & Castle station unstaffed at weekends

First Capital Connect has abandoned controversial proposals to have no regular staff presence at Elephant & Castle Railway Station on Saturdays and Sundays.

In February we reported on proposals by the rail company to cut back ticket office opening hours across its network.

The cuts were opposed by London TravelWatch and local politicians including Val Shawcross AM.

Watchdog London TravelWatch says that it received nearly 900 submissions from members of the public who objected to the First Capital Connect plans.

It has now been agreed that the ticket offices at Elephant & Castle and Loughborough Junction will remain open at weekends once the current long-term engineering works come to an end.

At present Elephant & Castle Station is often not served by trains at weekends due to Thameslink Programme works.

"We received an unprecedented number of objections from local users, and it was clear to us that ticket offices and staffed stations are extremely important to passengers, who are against the de-personalisation of public services," says Sharon Grant, chair of London TravelWatch.

"Machines are not necessarily a practical replacement for ticket offices or other station staff.

"We will be monitoring closely to ensure that passengers are still able to buy the ticket they want at the best price possible and that proper information is still available to all who need it."

An analysis by London TravelWatch shows that on an average Saturday the Elephant & Castle ticket office sells 289 tickets with just 45 issued on Sundays.

If First Capital Connect's new proposals are approved by transport secretary Lord Adonis the ticket office would be open on weekdays between 7.15am and 8.30pm. It currently closes at 9pm.

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