Bid to save George and his home at Stourbridge Junction

The region's rail ticket offices are at risk and a campaign has been launched to save the one at Stourbridge Junction - the home of George the station cat.

The ticket office is among those across the country earmarked for closure under plans to modernise the way tickets are sold at railway stations.

Train operators nationwide say the proposed ticket office closures are a response to changing customer habits and they propose to bring “employees out from behind ticket office windows to be closer to customers”.

West Midlands Railway has said mobile teams would move between stations and be deployed to offer extra help where needed and that ticket vending machines will be upgraded so customers can still buy the most popular tickets at stations. Many staff would also have hand-held devices and new customer ‘help’ points would be introduced at stations.

George the station cat at Stourbridge Junction station, is famous on social media. With a following of over 61,000 on Twitter, his account tweets positive messages every day and has put the station and ticket office on the map in its own right. Campaigners are out leafleting at the station to gain support to keep ticket office open. Local Councillor, Cat Eccles said:

"There was an incident mentioned on Facebook a few weeks ago where a young woman felt she was being followed and alerted station staff who intervened and helped her.

"This is a main thoroughfare for Birmingham and is busy most times of the day. Under these proposals there is no telling when there would be staff available if at all.

"Yes, there is talk of having a roving person to provide help and information but no certainty of what hours that would be but most probably not after 6pm."

While most ticket offices are planned for closure, West Midlands Railway says it would retain six hub stations across the network, at Birmingham Snow Hill, Sutton Coldfield, University, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Worcester Foregate Street under the proposals. The ticket office at Birmingham New Street station is run by Avanti.

A Save Stourbridge Junction Ticket Office page has been set up on Facebook to attempt to save the facility, and to make sure George keeps his home.

People can also have their say on the official West Midlands Railway consultation via email, as well as signing an online petition.


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