You probably only need and handful of people buying €70- €80 walk up fares to cover the marginal expense of covering 1 or 2 shifts at a station. Not everyone is motivated by cheap advance tickets. Ticket vending machines and on-line sales are limited to selling the most common point to point tickets.
It might be difficult to move staff from stations to on board trains - if they were recruited to look after a station, it might be considered a demotion to work, to what I think is being described as a guard. (I have no idea which job might be considered better). To avoid this, employment contracts would have to be sufficiently flexible at outset.
I used to live in the West Yorkshire region where there could be many relatively small unmanned stations. The guard could sell tickets to those boarding at unmanned stations (and I recollect that they would receive 5% of tickets sales made). I can't imagine the system has changed. Guards can provide customer assistance, an extra element of safety, and allow stations to remain open that wouldn't be viable if they had staff.
On the other hand, the ongoing Southern rail dispute in the UK would appear to be about removing guards altogether from 8-12 carriage trains carrying hundreds of passengers and having one sole individual in charge of the whole train. There, I guess stations are busy enough to be manned, and trains far too big for one person to be also checking tickets. I remember guards on many of the London underground lines in the past - I think they've all gone now, and these trains would also carry hundreds of passengers each at peak times.
So different areas need different solutions.
Last edited by Eddie : 04-03-2017 at 08:14.