All Overground ticket offices (including Sydenham and Forest Hill) to be closed



As reported by the Sydenham Society, all Overground train ticket offices are due to close within the next 18 months:

[full blog post]


I don’t mind having to buy my ticket at the ticket machine. What I do mind is having to buy a more expensive ticket because the machine doesn’t offer the cheapest option for the journey I need to make, or indeed tell me what the cheapest option is. I suspect this will never be fully resoved thanks to our endlessly complicated ticketing structure. I do rate the advice by staff on what ticket to buy as the detail of the pricing can be incomprehensible, e.g. does anyone know why a single ticket to Gatwick Airport is a different price from a single ticket back?


Is the ticket office at Forest Hill only operated by Aviva? What about Southern Rail. Frankly I just always assumed it was run by Network Rail. Except I now see from the Network Rail site that Forest Hill is operated by London Overground.

This sucks.


When they say closing the ticket office does it also mean getting rid of all staff or will staff be kept on to man the gates and help at ticket machines?


I don’t think the changes are a done deal. Until they have ticket machines that can offer all ticket combinations (i.e. issuing point to point season tickets) they are unlikely to persue the closer of ticket offices at stations on shared network, especially at the busiest stations operated by Overground/Arriva.

I think it will be some time before the machine technology allows them to make this change because there are too many different ticket combinations available from a station like ours. But once the machines can do it, and staff are on hand to help customers use the machines, I don’t think the closure of the ticket office is unreasonable.


I thought tfl stations were purposely staffed to help customers & to man the barriers. Also when & if this does come into effect, what happens if the ticket machine isn’t working?
When my daughter went to buy her travel card from a machine at Bromley South a few weeks ago, she paid by card, but then it said the transaction couldn’t be completed. She webt to the ticket office inside & the man said no it wouldn’t have taken the money. This was on a Saturday. She checked her account & it said the payment was pending, but her Oyster card wasn’t showing an updated travel card. So, she had to get it again! In the meantime the helpline said the first payment had to come out first, then be paid back in again, so in affect she paid twice! She did get the money back about a week later, but it’s not very good is it?


Waste of resources to have ticket offices. It’s one of those things where you need to give some passengers a bit of a nudge to go online / use a ticket machine.

The staff on the gate line should help with ticket machines if needed. Having someone just sitting behind a ticket booth all day is not very efficient or helpful.


The issue is that London Overground is a National Rail service and ticket offices can sell all National Rail tickets that some machines can’t. There are also many variations of discounts and railcards that can be difficult for passengers to find on a machine. Granted, London Overground are rolling out new ticket machines so I’m not sure what they offer, however it isn’t the tube and should be kept well away from the lines that are being blurred by TfL.


All stations from New Cross Gate to West Croydon are owned by Network Rail but managed by Arriva Rail London (Aviva is an insurance company :wink: ) Staff are employed by Arriva Rail London. is a great site that can show you all the tickets available on the National Rail network. It makes it a lot easier to find the fare you want (ie cheapest) and tell the person in ticket office. Won’t be able to do that if the ticket offices are closed!

Interestingly, according to the Concession Agreement there is the following;

Ticket office opening and closing hours
5.1 The Operator shall, subject to paragraph 5.2, ensure on each day of the Concession
Period, that at least:
(a) one ticket office at each Operator Station is open in accordance with the opening
times specified in schedule 17 and other terms of the Ticketing and Settlement
Agreement; and
(b) where available, any excess fares window is open at the same times

Following that is…

5.2 The Operator may seek to obtain consent from the Secretary of State to amend the
Ticketing and Settlement Agreement to provide for alternative ticket office opening and
closing hours at each Operator Station from those set out in schedule 17 of the Ticketing and
Settlement Agreement, provided that the Operator shall:
(a) obtain the prior written approval of RfL to any alternative opening and closing hours
that it wishes to propose to the Secretary of State; and
(b) keep RfL advised of the progress of any such application for the Secretary of State’s
consent and shall provide RfL with such information concerning the application as
RfL may reasonably request. The Operator shall not agree any changes to the ticket
office opening and closing hours set out in schedule 17 of the Ticketing and
Settlement Agreement without RfL’s prior consent.

It only mentions that they need the permission from the Secretary of State to change ticket office opening hours, and if they choose to close them permanently, it would be breaking the concession agreement. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that because it would be bad for ARL, both financially and publicity-wise to close them, the idea of closing ticket offices is from TfL, not ARL.


I understand that some passengers will use them, but I haven’t personally spoken to anyone in a ticket office for years, and I presume I am one of the majority.

It still amazes me that regular commuters still join the long queue on a Monday morning to use the ticket machines or ticket office. The Oyster website is so straightforward and means that you never have to queue up again for your regular ticket. I have mine set up so that it immediately refreshes my oyster with ÂŁ20 when I drop below ÂŁ5. It is so simple.



i don’t need a nudge to go online or use a ticket machine to buy rail tickets.

However until the rail companies enable the purchase of tickets from the boundary of a TFL zone online or through a ticket machine, those of us who hold season tickets, freedom passes, 60+ oyster cards etc covering some or all TFL zones will continue to need a ticket office for rail journeys to destinations outside the zones covered.


You can do boundary tickets on machines now, no?


Yes you can, I’ve done them before at Forest Hill on the machines when the ticket office was shut and ended up in a long queue for them.

While I largely order train tickets for when I travel outside London online, there are still some issues which are easier to resolve at the ticket office. A machine is not easy for some older people and disabled passengers.

But yes, for basic Oyster fares, I just do it online (as quick as 30 mins before leaving or even less!) and touch on the gate or on a bus to the station.


@Baboonery @rbmartin - Thanks for your updates. I wasn’t aware boundary tickets were now available from the ticket machines but admittedly haven’t tried for a while having been told by the ticket office staff that they weren’t available from the machines.

Next time I’m travelling out of London I’ll have another go!


That’s all well and good but what about people who can’t read and don’t understand the machines because of dyslexica


Like the tube stations, staff will be supervising to help customers when required.


There will still be people around to help. The Underground has been mostly ticket office free with a similar level of outcry but it appears to be mostly working.

There are a couple of things that I’ve needed done that previously were done at a ticket office - eg adding a railcard to an Oyster card. Now you just speak to the station staff and they go into a special menu and process the request. They’ll help those unfamiliar with the task or struggling to read/see/reach the machines to get what they need.


I have a Freedom Pass, but feel much safer If the Station is manned. The Ticket Office is also really useful for advice and they are really friendly and helpful.


But the staff won’t be disappearing, They will be manning the ticket machines and barriers and generally serving customers, just not from behind a glass partition.


Is that clear from the consultation though?