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675 rail ticket offices 'face axe'

One in four railway ticket offices in England and Wales could close, with the loss of over 1,000 jobs, under recommendations in a Government-commissioned report "buried" in the small print, a leading transport union has warned.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association said it had discovered a "hit list" of 675 stations which could be left unstaffed, spread across the country, including 265 in London and the South East and 114 in the North West.

The union said the list appears in a report drawn up by Sir Roy McNulty on how to achieve savings in the railway industry, but was not published in the executive summary.

Publishing the full list of planned closures, TSSA leader Gerry Doherty called on Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to reject the cutbacks, warning that passengers, especially women, will feel less safe travelling, and will find it more difficult to buy tickets.

The report recommends the replacement of ticket offices with machines, a trend which is growing throughout the railway industry.The Government is expected to respond fully next month to the report, which maintained that the railway industry could make savings of £1 billion a year.

Mr Doherty said: "Not only are unmanned stations less secure, tickets bought from machines are usually more expensive. Philip Hammond should come to the dispatch box in the next few days and give a clear undertaking that he is going to ditch these draconian cuts in services to passengers.

The union is launching an "SOS-Save our Station ticket offices" campaign which will tour the party conferences over the next four weeks urging MPs to save local ticket offices in their constituencies.

The TSSA said those on the list were all listed as "category E" stations, serving fewer than 250,000 passengers a year and where ticket offices open for less than 10 hours a day, usually in the morning and evening peak hours.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "This information on the shocking scale of the ticket office massacre is a wake-up call to the public as the Government prepares to reveal their formal response to the McNulty rail review.

"These cuts would de-staff stations and turn the rail network into a criminals' paradise, and that's why we are uniting workers and passengers in a massive campaign of resistance."


From Belfast Telegraph