Proposed plans to close railway station ticket offices in the region are due to be enforced as the majority of fares are now sold online - but figures show thousands are still paying in person every year. 

Rail operator LNER plans to close ticket offices in Durham and Darlington in a bid to cut costs after analysing passengers’ purchasing habits, with the majority opting for digital and online sales. 

Following criticism, operators say ticket office staff will be moved from behind screens onto platforms to help passengers. 

At Darlington, only seven per cent of passengers purchase tickets at the ticket office but the figures show it is the most popular out of the seven LNER plans to close. Usage increased to 133,785 in 2022 - up by around 33,000 on 2021 - but was significantly down on 2019’s figures of 239,137 and 349,701 in 2012. 

LNER says it plans to repurpose the Darlington ticket office into a customer information point and increase the number of waiting rooms. 

Customer ticket purchasing habits at Darlington Station 


  • 81 per cent Digital & Other 
  • 12 per cent Ticket Vending Machine 
  • seven per cent Ticket Office

The town’s Conservative MP, Peter Gibson has urged the operator to keep the facility open and criticised the “short-sighted” decision. 

He added: “It is fascinating to see the usage of Darlington station ticket office and how relied upon it is with over 130,000 ticket sales in 2022, there was a declining trend leading up to Covid but it has shown strong signs of bouncing back since then.

"With the consultation being extended I would strongly urge ticket office users to feed in their concerns that the proposed closure would have on them.”

The plans have drawn fierce criticism from groups representing passengers, politicians and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT). The deadline for responses to a public consultation on the plans was extended until September and the current total stands at more than 315,000 responses.

The Northern Echo: The majority of ticket sales from Durham railway station are made online The majority of ticket sales from Durham railway station are made online (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

At Durham, LNER data shows  just one percent of tickets are purchased at the ticket office compared to 90 per cent online. Just nine per cent of tickets are bought through the station’s vending machine.

“Increasingly customers are purchasing their tickets in advance online or through the LNER app,” the operator said. “Only one per cent of customers purchase tickets at Durham ticket office.

“We therefore plan to repurpose the ticket office at Durham station allowing more space for a designated point for those who require accessibility. The greater space will allow us to overall improve the retail experience and meet customer expectations. “

Customer ticket purchasing habits at Durham Station 


  • 90 per cent - Digital & Other 
  • nine per cent - Ticket Vending Machine 
  • one per cent - Ticket Office

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But members of City of Durham Parish Council feel the 76,355 people who used the ticket office in 2022 shows there’s still a high demand. The figures show an increase from 40,909 in 2020, during the pandemic, compared to 139,606 in 2019. Ticket office usage has dropped from 202,482 in 2012, however. 

The council obtained the data from LNER as part of its campaign to keep the Durham ticket office open, however their request to meet with the transport minister to discuss the proposal was refused. 

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “This is not about cutting jobs – no station which is currently staffed will be unstaffed as a result of these proposed reforms.”