CONSULTATIONS to review how train tickets are sold at stations will close at midnight tonight, Friday 1 September.

National Rail says that the responses will shape final plans so that all passengers are supported as railway retailing is updated for the smartphone era. 

The consultation is being coordinated on behalf of the train operators by independent passenger watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch. 

In the next few weeks, the passenger watchdogs will continue to analyse the train operator proposals and public consultation responses before responding to train operators.

As part of the process, train operators have undertaken ongoing engagement with accessibility groups.   

Currently, 40 per cent of the rail network operates without a ticket office.

As well as these proposals, National Rail says the rail industry is continuing to roll out improvements to ticketing which include pay-as-you-go and single-leg pricing, as well as upgrading ticket machines and ensuring more tickets can be sold online. 

Jacqueline Starr, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: "Since the introduction of the smartphone, the numbers using ticket offices have dropped to historic lows and that trend is rapidly accelerating.

"For rail to survive and thrive long-term, like any responsible industry, we need to change and evolve with our customers.

"We wanted to give as many people as possible the opportunity to have their say on the industry proposals.

"We are extremely grateful to everyone for taking the time to submit their views, and we will work with the passenger watchdogs to incorporate this valuable feedback into our plans.   

"The taxpayer is continuing to subsidise the railway, and we believe that now is the right time to move staff to more flexible, engaging roles so our staff can better support customers face to face with a whole range of needs - from finding the right ticket, to navigating the station and getting support with accessibility needs, while reducing costs to taxpayers.   

"We also understand that some customers have particular challenges and they should be supported in any transition. 

"Over the coming weeks, we will work closely with passenger watchdogs to review and adapt individual proposals where necessary."

Although local plans vary, overall the proposals aim to bring staff out from behind ticket office windows to provide more support for customers buying tickets and navigating stations, as they move into new, multi-skilled ‘customer host’ roles.

National Rails says that through these "more engaging" careers, staff would be better able to support all customers to buy tickets, plan their journeys and navigate stations, as is the case at Newbury and Reading Green Park stations.