THE decision to retain railway station ticket offices has been declared a "victory for the people" after 750,000 responses were submitted to the public enquiry.

Back in July, the Rail Delivery Group announced plans that hundreds of ticket offices would close over the course of the next three years, in an attempt to modernise the railway and cut costs across the industry.

All but the busiest or most central stations would have closed their offices under the plans, which would have affected Atherton, Hindley, and Wigan North Western in the borough.

However, after 750,000 responses were submitted to the Rail Delivery Group's public consultation, the government has announced that all ticket offices earmarked for closure have been saved.

READ > The family run bar offering 'something different' to get town back on the up

Leigh Journal: Protestors braved the wet weather to make their feelings knownProtestors braved the wet weather to make their feelings known (Image: Paul Blinkhorn)

With serious concerns about how the closures would have affected elderly, disabled, or partially sighted people, as well as those working at railway stations, local campaigners fought to save the ticket offices in Atherton.

One of those campaigners, Paul Blinkhorn, said: "I’m glad to see that the transport watchdog has paid attention to the concerns of train users.

"It’s great news, it would have been nonsensical to close Atherton’s ticket office, when so many of our residents, and visitors to the town rely so heavily on the fantastic service that ticket office staff provide.

Atherton South and Lilford councillor, Lee McStein, added: "Today's decision by the Transport Minister to ask train operators to withdraw their proposals and keep our ticket offices open is very welcome news.

"This is a victory for the people of Atherton and the surrounding area, who were worried about losing essential services and passenger support at our local station.

"Special praise is due to RMT Union members, who led on the fight against these proposed closures. My Labour colleagues and I were proud to support you at Atherton, as we have at other stations across the borough too."

Jo Platt, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Leigh and Atherton, added: "I welcome the Governments withdrawal of its ticket office closure plans. Only a government that is out of touch would think that closing every railway ticket office across the country was a good idea.

"It was great to campaign alongside Bolton West’s candidate, Phil Brickell and to speak to residents, staff, commuters and disability groups on the devastating impact this would have.

"Today’s U-turn is a victory for the general public, rail workers and campaign groups, who want a safe, secure and accessible service that puts users first."