THE ticket office at Sutherland railway station, one of the busiest on the Illawarra line, will close each day from 1.30pm from next Monday as effects of the Opal card introduction flow through the system.
Similar changes are expected at other stations, if they have not happened already.
Sydney Trains said station staff would be positioned on concourses and platforms to show travellers needing a paper ticket how to use ticket machines.
Only 0.05 per cent of Sutherland station passengers would be affected, Sydney Trains said. However, rail workers said the move would hit the elderly, children and visitors from interstate.
"Most don't know how to use the ticket machines and they will face major inconvenience," one staff member said. "This is not customer service." Although staff numbers are meant to remain the same at Sutherland, workers believe that situation will not last.
Before the Opal card was introduced, the Sutherland ticket office opened from 4.30am to 8.30pm. There were complaints when the hours were changed recently to 6.05am to 7.30pm, but the changes next Monday will be more severe.
A Sydney Trains spokeswoman said more than 85 per cent of people travelling by train to or from the CBD used Opal cards instead of paper tickets. As a result, there was far less demand for paper tickets bought from ticket windows.
"Sydney Trains is ensuring staff are visible and accessible to customers by ensuring they spend more time on platforms and less time in offices," she said. "Sutherland station is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"The new ticket window hours at Sutherland do not affect ticket purchases for more than 99.5 per cent of customers.
"Station staff are able, outside those hours, to operate ticket windows on request, such as when customers need to use large denomination notes. Changes to ticket window hours at all stations have been driven by demand and ensuring staff are always offering the best possible customer service."
Alana and Phillip Patricelli, of Engadine, are concerned the changes will be the ‘‘thin end of the wedge’’.
Ms Patricelli said staff could be phased out gradually.
‘‘I just don’t think they should replace people with machines,’’ she said.
Mr Patricelli said not everyone had an Opal card and some who did might not always have sufficient credit would need to buy a paper ticket.
‘‘It’s good if there are staff out on platforms helping people use the ticket machines, but will they always be there?’’ he said.
‘‘There are also sure to be delays and you could also easily miss your train.’’
Do you agree with the closoure of the ticket windows?