PROTESTORS braved the wet weather to demand that ticket offices remain at train stations across the borough.

With plans to modernise the railway and cut costs across the industry, the Rail Delivery Group announced earlier this month that hundreds of ticket offices would close in the next three years.

All but the busiest or most central stations will close their offices, it has been announced, with only Wigan Wallgate planned to remain open at Northern Rail operated stations across the borough.

Around the Leigh areas, this would see ticket offices such as Atherton, Hag Fold, Daisy Hill, and Hindley face the axe.

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Leigh Journal: Protestors braved the wet weather at the picket lineProtestors braved the wet weather at the picket line (Image: Paul Blinkhorn)

While mobile tickets have become much more popular than the traditional ticket office in recent years, there have been serious concerns about how the plans will impact elderly, disabled, or partially sighted people. 

For those working at train stations, there is also the extra worry of how the closures will affect their livelihoods.

Aiming to fight against the planned ticket offices closures, residents and councillors stood alongside representatives from the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers at stations across the borough on Tuesday, July 18.

With picket lines seen at Wigan Wallgate, Daisy Hill, and Atherton stations, the aim was to show support for station ticket offices and raise awareness of the public consultation on the plans, which closes on Friday, July 28.

Present at the campaign, Lee McStein, councillor for Atherton South and Lilford said: “'It's great to see residents from across Atherton and the local area supporting this action by the RMT Union, by both attending the action and by lobbying their representatives.

"With many ticket offices and facilities across the borough under threat, this is an issue which will particularly affect more vulnerable passengers who may need support at a station.

"With Atherton station being one of those highlighted as under threat, I'm happy to support the action and will continue to do so.”

Leigh Journal: Hindley station would also lose its ticket office under the plans, after its electrification improvementsHindley station would also lose its ticket office under the plans, after its electrification improvements (Image: Google Maps)

Steve Shaw - Regional Organiser RMT said: "The decision to close ticket offices and slash hundreds of station staff jobs around Manchester and the Northwest is devastating for our members and passengers. 

"RMT is taking our campaign to save ticket offices out into every town, city and village in the area and across the country. 

“The arrangements for ticket office opening hours, set out in Schedule 17 of the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement, are the only statutory regulation for station staffing.

"Once ticket offices are closed, it means rail bosses can de-staff stations at will, leaving the vulnerable, elderly and disabled alone on platforms relying on mobile teams and apps for assistance. 

“Train operating companies who make huge profits year in year out are using the fig-leaf of modernisation to cut costs and to make rail travel unappealing to the public. 

"We do not want a de-humanised railway where mugging is rife and anti-social behaviour is unchallenged. We want a well-staffed and friendly railway open to all to use.

"20,000 railway workers will be taking strike action on July 20, 22, and 29 across the Northwest and rest of the country in our fight for ticket offices, job security, and a negotiated settlement on pay."

Paul Blinkhorn, a local resident added: “I’m here with other local residents to support the RMT in their opposition to these closures. Though it’s been fantastic to see so much support, I’d really encourage residents to make sure they have their say before the public consultation ends – sign petitions, write to your MP and respond to the consultation online.  

To have your say in the public consultation, visit this link.