TICKET offices at two train stations are to shut as operators say falling revenue and an increase in passengers arranging their travel online has made the business unprofitable.

Chester-le-Track announced last night that it will cease trading at Chester-le-Street and Eaglescliffe stations from close of business on Saturday, March 31.

The move will also see the toilets and waiting room facilities at Chester-le-Street shut because the station will be unmanned.

In a statement it said: "Falling revenue and the increased use of internet sales on portable devices and mobile phones has made the business unprofitable because we only survive from the sale of tickets at the stations and on our phone lines.

"When we opened in 1999, 90 per cent of customers making journeys originating from Chester-le-Street bought their tickets at the station. "Although passenger numbers have risen greatly, the proportion purchasing at the station has fallen to 20 to 30 per cent."

Trains will continue to call at both stations, but tickets will instead need to be purchased from automatic machines Northern Rail will provide or on the train.

At Eaglescliffe, Grand Central are reviewing how to provide services for the passengers on their London service.

Alex Nelson, stationmaster at Chester-le-Track, said: "Our team has enjoyed serving you for the last 18 years and we thank you very much for your custom."