The chief executive of the The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has reacted to the news that plans to close ticket offices in train stations are being scrapped.

Matt Stringer said: “We are delighted the voice of blind and partially sighted people has been heard, and the Minister has made this change.

"It’s essential the experiences of people with sight loss are properly understood in decision-making.

"These closures would have left many blind and partially sighted people unable to live a full life: without a means to see family, go to their health appointments and play their part in our communities.  

RECOMMENDED READING: Rail ticket office closure plans axed - union TSSA reacts

“We welcome the Minister’s commitment in a meeting this morning to form a working group with a variety of organisations to ensure a better train travelling experience in the future, with accessible technology and infrastructure improvements at its heart. 

“The huge upswell of concern by blind and partially sighted people was unprecedented within the community, as was the huge public opposition to the plans.

"These prove that nothing can replicate having a fixed train ticket location and office staff available as the first point of contact for many kinds of staff assistance.

"Staff can make sure the correct tickets and concessions are bought, let people know if the lifts are out of use or advise on cancelled or delayed trains.

RECOMMENDED READING: Mayor meets RNIB campaigners amid ticket office closures threat

"This flexible, and often vital, assistance for blind and partially sighted people is not something apps or ticket machines can replicate.” 

“RNIB research shows that only three per cent of people with sight loss said they could use a ticket vending machine without problems, and 58 per cent said it was impossible.

"As well as accessibility problems with online ticket websites and apps, they immediately exclude the large number of blind and partially sighted people without internet or smartphones.”