Rail ticket offices at stations across the region will close under new plans revealed today.

Plans for the mass closure of railway station ticket offices in England were unveiled by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) on Wednesday (July 5).

The plans sparked fury from trade unions and disability groups, with concerns also raised by public transport organisations.

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Train companies will launch consultations on the closures of ticket offices they manage.

LNER plans to close offices at Berwick-upon-Tweed, Darlington, Durham, Grantham, Newark Northgate, Retford and Wakefield Westgate.

It said just one per cent of passengers are purchasing tickets at Durham and seven per cent at Darlington do so at the station’s ticket office.

Northern also announced the closure of ticket offices at 131 stations it manages. A ticket office being built as part of redevelopment works at Sunderland station may never open to customers.

Meanwhile Transpennine Express managed ticket officers at stations in Middlesbrough, Northallerton and Thornaby will pull down the shutters.

It means Newcastle and Hartlepool will be the only stations in the region with a ticket office if the plans go ahead.

A public consultation is now underway until July 26.

It comes after Transport Secretary Mark Harper wrote to train operators asking them to cut costs.

Local MPs expressed dismay at the proposed closures saying they were “utterly catastrophic”.

The Northern Echo: Darlington MP Peter Gibson is dismayed by the news.Darlington MP Peter Gibson is dismayed by the news. (Image: The Northern Echo)

Darlington MP Peter Gibson said: “I am dismayed that LNER are contemplating closing the booking office at Bank Top. It is incredibly short sighted especially at a time of huge investment with £139m being spent at Darlington.

“I worry for the needs of the most vulnerable in our society, I worry for the prospects for our campaign for services into the Wear Valley, I worry about the signal it sends as we prepare for 2025 - we are the birthplace of the passenger railway.

“I am seeking an urgent meeting with LNER and invite constituents to get in touch with me to voice their concerns about this act of transport vandalism.”

The Northern Echo: City of Durham MP Mary Foy says the changes would be utterly catastrophicCity of Durham MP Mary Foy says the changes would be utterly catastrophic

Meanwhile City of Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy added: “The decision to close 1,000 ticket offices across the country will be utterly catastrophic for passengers, particularly the elderly, disabled and vulnerable.

“Given the emails I have already received its clear the Minister has seriously misjudged the publics appreciation of ticket offices - they are not just a means to buy tickets, but to access information and offer passengers crucial support. They are a vital source of reassurance for passengers navigating our disjointed, dysfunctional railways.

“The Government is gutting the rail network’s staff, prioritising slashing costs at the expense of passenger safety and accessibility. Rather than focusing on improving services, this decision risks undermining passenger confidence in the railway yet further.”

There were calls from transport bodies that reform must not disadvantage any passengers amid fears the changes would most adversely impact the elderly.

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A spokesperson for Transport for the North said: “We understand that the way people buy tickets is changing and that there needs to be reform. However, this should be done in a holistic way, considering the needs of all station users and local communities.

“We are concerned that the focus on ticket office staffing in isolation of wider investment - for example pay as you go ticketing - could lead to disadvantaging certain passengers and communities. We will be working with our partners on a robust response to the consultation using local evidence and knowledge.”

LNER Managing Director David Horne said: “Our customers’ habits have changed, and we must plan for the needs of our future customers. We want everyone to enjoy an even better experience when travelling with LNER.

“Our proposals for each of our stations will bring our people closer to our customers, improve accessibility and make good use of the hand-held technology and digital systems that we have pioneered in the rail industry.

“Our people will be crucial to the success of our plans, and that is why it is so important to empower our teams to respond to customer needs as we attract more people to rail – the most sustainable way to travel.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson added: “These industry-led consultations are about enhancing the role of station workers and getting staff out from behind ticket office screens and into more active, customer-facing roles that will allow them to better support all passengers. This is not about cutting jobs - no station which is currently staffed will be unstaffed as a result of these proposed reforms.

“We have been consistently honest about the need for our railways to modernise if they are going to survive. Reviewing the role of ticket offices – with the least busy selling only one ticket an hour – is a crucial part of this.”