This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Consultation on closure of ticket offices'.



 
James Finnegan 
 
21 August 2023   
 
Dear James Finnegan, 
 
Your Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) Request 
 
I am writing in response to your email which was received by London North Eastern Railway 
(LNER) on 24/07/2023 relating to equality impact assessments and the public sector 
equality duty in relation to proposals to alter train station ticket office opening hours. 
 
Duty to Confirm or Deny 
 
LNER has considered your request and confirms that it does hold information that wil  meet 
the first part of your request, and may hold information that may fall into scope for the 
second part. 
 
Communication 

 
First Part of Request 
 
You can find the overarching EQIA at https://www.lner.co.uk/our-stations-are-changing/  
If you click “Accessible formats” you wil  find the individual station EQIAS. The EQIAs are 
available in accessible formats, if you require something different, please let me know and I 
would be happy to enquire on your behalf or alternatively telephone 03457 225 333 as the 
Customer Service Centre have access to all accessible formats.   
 
Second Part of Request 
 
Your request relates to proposals to alter opening hours at train station ticket offices across 
the UK rail network. Specifically, you requested all recorded information relating to Equality 
Impact Assessments (EQIAs) and consideration of the public sector equality duty regarding 
these proposals, as announced by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) on 5 July 2023. 
 
I am unable to provide the information you have requested. Based on the scope of your 
request, I estimate that complying would exceed the appropriate limit set out in section 12 of 
the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). 
 
Following the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance on determining whether 
information is held, I have considered what would constitute a reasonable search based on 
my knowledge of responsible persons and where relevant information is likely to be held. 
 
In my assessment, a reasonable search would comprise: 
 


 
  •  Emails within the organisation, sent to or from all employees. 
•  Searches of all document storage locations, both on-premises and cloud-based 
•  Consulting relevant individuals as to whether they hold pertinent information in 
notebooks or other personal storage. 
•  It would not be reasonable to search physical filing cabinets across LNER due to our 
hybrid working model, and in the context of our work being digital based. 
 
We are not obliged to create new information if it was not documented at the time. For 
example, if changes or decisions were not recorded, we do not need to document them 
retrospectively. 
 
To determine whether applying this exemption was appropriate, I first conducted a limited 
search of emails that would potentially fall within the scope of your request. This initial 
search returned approximately 6,418 emails. To elaborate, when I say this was a limited 
search of emails, I mean that I have not yet extended the search to our other information 
sources such as on-premises hard drives, cloud storage locations, or consulted relevant 
parties for any notes, drafts or other related records they may hold. 
 
Because each Freedom of Information (FOI) request is unique, I took a sample of 100 
emails from the full results to assess the time required to properly review each one against 
the criteria relevant to your specific request. 
 
Within this sample of 100, I selected two sets of 50 emails each - one set with no 
attachments and one set with attachments. Focusing solely on reviewing these sample sets, 
I timed how long it took to open the email, read the content, establish if it contained 
information pertinent to your request, and extract any relevant details. 
 
For the 50 emails without attachments, the average review time was 72 seconds per email. 
 
For the 50 emails with attachments, the average review time was 120 seconds per email. 
 
I have considered: 
  1.  Average Size of an Email Without an Attachment: 50 KB 
  2.  Average Size of an Email With an Attachment: 3 MB 
 
If all 6,418 emails had no attachments, the total size would be 320.9MB so I can assume we 
do have attachments within the entire dataset. Given the above math, it means at least 
15.53GB must be attributed to emails with attachments. If the remaining 15.53 GB 
represents emails with attachments, and each is circa 3 MB, there must be approximately 
5,177 emails with attachments. 
 


 
Out of the total 6,418 emails identified, analysis of the total file size suggests that 
approximately 5,177 emails (81%) have attachments. The remaining 1,241 emails (19%) do 
not have attachments based on the above theory. 
 
Based on these proportions, if all 6,418 emails were reviewed in full, the estimated time 
would be: 
  •  1,241 emails without attachments at 72 seconds per email = approximately 15.5 
hours 
•  5,177 emails with attachments at 120 seconds per email = approximately 173 hours 
 
This equates to 188.5 hours to review 6,418 individual emails to determine if they fall into 
scope. This does not include time required to review other sources of information within 
scope of your request.  
 
This sampling exercise demonstrated that a full review of all the emails identified would 
substantially exceed the 18-hour cost limit, even before factoring in time required to search 
other information sources within the scope of your request. 
 
Using the statutory rate of £25 per person per hour, the cost for reviewing the 6,418 
individual emails is calculated as follows: 
  Description 
Hours/Rate  Co
  st 
Total hours required to review 6,418 emails 
1 88.5 hours 
Statutory rate per hour 
 
£25/hour 
Total cost for reviewing the emails 
 
£4,712.50 
Acceptable limit under the Freedom of Information Act 
 
£450 
Excess over the acceptable limit 
£4,262.50 
 
Given the acceptable limit of £450, the cost of £4,712.50 far exceeds this threshold. This 
means that the estimated cost of compliance with your request, based solely on the time 
required to review the emails, is significantly above the acceptable limit set out under the 
Freedom of Information Act. 
 
Section 12(1) of the FOIA allows public authorities to refuse information requests if the 
estimated cost of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit. We are not required to search 
for or compile the requested information if we anticipate surpassing this limit. Our decision is 
grounded in solid arguments and evidence that support our cost estimate. 
 
In line with the ICO guidance where the cost of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit, I 
have considered whether I can confirm we hold the information without exceeding the limit, 
whether I can provide advice and assistance to bring your request under the limit, and what 
information I could provide within the cost limit. 
 


 
As already established earlier in this response, I am confident that we hold information 
within the scope of your request, including equality impact assessments and records relating 
to consideration of the public sector equality duty regarding proposals to alter train station 
ticket office opening hours. However, compiling the full extent of the information held would 
exceed the cost limit of 18 hours under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act. While I 
recognise the public interest in this matter, providing partial documentation risks 
misrepresenting the full context and allowing for misinterpretation. Given the broad scope, I 
am unfortunately unable to identify a way to reformulate your request that would provide 
substantive information within the cost ceiling. 
 
The only option I can reasonably provide, without exceeding the limit, is to confirm that we 
do hold information within the scope of your request, as I have done.  
 
Section 16 of the FOIA, emphasises that LNER is obligated to offer advice and assistance 
to individuals submitting information requests. I have taken into account the public interest 
associated with your request. However, it's important to clarify that this consideration is not 
in the formal context of conducting an official public interest test. Specifically, the obligation 
to perform such a test does not pertain when relying on the Section 12 exemption. 
Nonetheless, I deem it essential to weigh the inherent public interests when deciding what 
information can feasibly be disclosed without surpassing the cost threshold. 
 
There is always inherent public interest in transparency around public authorities. However, 
I believe there is an even stronger public interest in this case - allowing for full and proper 
scrutiny of whether we fulfil ed our equality obligations. From the nature of your request, 
your motivation seems to be analysing if we carried out our duties appropriately in this 
matter. However, I am concerned that providing partial internal records would risk 
inadvertently misleading the public and hampering genuine accountability. 
 
In my assessment, there is limited value to transparency for its own sake if it does not paint 
an accurate picture. I do not believe disclosing snippets of internal discussions would allow 
for proper public understanding and could potentially undermine confidence in our 
organisation when taken out of context. As I do not believe I can compile and disclose all 
relevant information within the cost limit, I unfortunately cannot identify a way to reasonably 
provide any substantive information without risking unintended consequences. 
 
In conclusion, I am unable to provide the information you requested due to the cost 
exemption under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act. 
 
The broad scope of your request would require over 180 hours of work to locate, retrieve 
and review all relevant records held across multiple sources. This significantly exceeds the 
limit of 18 hours. 
 
If you are not content with this response, you have the right to ask for an internal review 
within a reasonable period (which we believe is no more than 40 days from the date of this 
letter). In the first instance you should contact me again to request this. When making your 



 
request, you should specify which aspects of the response you are challenging. We will deal 
with your request as soon as possible and aim to respond within 20 working days following 
receipt. 
 
If you choose to exercise that right, and are not satisfied with the outcome of the review, you 
have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner by contacting: 
 
The Information Commissioner’s Office,  
Wycliffe House,  
Water Lane, 
Wilmslow,  
Cheshire,  
SK9 5AF.  
 
Yours sincerely, 
 
Abigail Coates 
London North Eastern Railway Limited