The interests of a significant minority are neglected as everyday tasks are done via smartphones and tablets

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On the eve of this week’s rail strikes, it was reported that industry bosses are planning to phase out paper train tickets and shut almost 1,000 station ticket offices in England. The government says nothing has been decided. But the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has made no secret of his desire to see savings delivered in this way; some stations, Mr Shapps likes to point out, sell only a handful of tickets each week and the vast majority of transactions have moved online. In the name of modernisation and cost-cutting, station ticket offices are likely to follow many high street bank branches and rural post offices into the vaults of sepia-tinted memory. For those of us who have grown used to the advantages of organising travel via a smartphone, there will be little to mourn. But for people without online access or skills – who tend to be older, poorer and more vulnerable – another small social barrier will have been erected. The inexorable shift online is inevitable, but its fallout needs to be managed with more care. Technology should not be allowed to drive people to the side of their own lives, as anecdotal evidence suggests is increasingly the case.

The Guardian view on digital exclusion: online must not be the only option