A campaign has been launched against plans to close railway ticket offices across Bolton.

Last week, plans were announced to permanently shut 1,000 tickets offices across the country, with Farnworth, Lostock Parkway and Bromley Cross all listed amongst those facing the axe.

Now, Bolton Pensioners Association have announced that they will mobilise to keep the offices open.

Secretary Bernadette Gallagher said: “Digital exclusion is a big issue for older people who either don’t have access to smart phones or don’t have the confidence to make online purchases.

“Furthermore, the ability to talk to an experienced ticket office worker who can advise on different train options can save passengers money.”

The Bolton News: Bolton StationBolton Station (Image: NQ)

She added: “No one believes ticket office closures will deliver a better service.

“While staff may initially be seen to be on the station platform, the proposals are about saving money and these workers will very soon be made redundant.”

The ticket office at Bolton Station in the town centre is set to remain open but at reduced hours.

The plans have also been condemned by other campaigners across the borough, including Bolton North, which includes Bromley Cross Railway Station, parliamentary candidate Kirith Entwistle.

She said:  "The Conservative ministers have demonstrated sheer weakness and a complete lack of responsibility in their rushed decision to close the ticket offices at Bromley Cross, Lostock Parkway and Farnworth stations.”

She added: "This decision ignores the significant impact it will have on vulnerable rail users across Bolton, who heavily depend on the presence of staff.

“We must halt this decision and ensure that a full consultation takes place, with the well-being of vulnerable passengers and the preservation of rail workers' jobs at the forefront, rather than prioritising the profits of private rail companies."

Age UK Bolton has also advised passengers, especially older people, to make their feeling known while they still can.

Communications officer James Bailey said: “This is something that will have an effect on the way older people use trains and, as we have seen with reports in the local press about technological changes in the way people pay for parking, many older people feel they are being left behind and excluded with travel continually becoming less accessible.

“At Age UK Bolton we are all too aware of the effects that social exclusion and isolation can have both physical and mental health impact of older people.

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“This could be seen as another barrier put in the way of older people being social, and could also negatively affect local economies if people cannot travel easily.

“I would encourage any older people in the area to get involved in the consultation and make sure that Northern hear your views on these changes.”

He added: “The fact that this has been almost exclusively dealt with online seems to further exclude people who could be affected the most by the changes.

“We felt it was only right to try and gather as much feedback as possible from local older people to feed back through the procedure.”

But the Railway Delivery Group said last week that just 12 per cent of tickets were sold from traditional offices last year, showing that passenger habits were changing.

Chief executive Jacqueline Starr said: “We will always treat our staff, who are hugely valued and integral to the experience our customers have on the railway, fairly, with support and extra training to move into new more engaging roles."

The Bolton Pensioners Association will now be petitioning to keep the ticket offices open at Lostock Parkway Railway Station at 7am and 8.30am on Wednesday July 12.

A public consultation can be found at https://www.northernrailway.co.uk/consultation-2023.