Sweden’s national rail operator SJ has closed the last of its ticket offices.

Those outside the big cities were closed some time ago. And from March 1 ticket offices at Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo were also shuttered, reports Railway Gazette (registration required to read the article).

It means readers planning to ride SJ in future ought to be prepared before arriving at the station.

SJ says that staff will be on hand to assist passengers who, for one reason or another, have turned up without a pre-booked ticket. Staff will assist with ticket machines or digital bookings and so on.

A spokesperson for SJ told Railway Gazette, “It [the pandemic] has hit SJ’s finances hard and we are now eliminating unnecessary cost in order to continue to be able to offer an attractive price level on our trips.”

Could we see such a drastic scenario in the UK? Personally I would say no. UK’s rail network is larger and more complex. In normal times it transports very many more travellers.

However I see a time when more ticket offices face the axe. I say this because there will be fares reform at some stage to cope with changing travel patterns which Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy CBE noted in 2019.

Already we have seen the growth of electronic ticketing for UK rail.

A shape of things to come is seen at Avanti West Coast. This train operator recently introduced a smartcard obviating the need for paper tickets.

sj.se, avantiwestcoast.co.uk