Bolton campaigners have welcomed plans to axe plans to shut ticket offices at Bolton's railway stations saying it is a result of 'people power'.

The planned widespread closure of railway station ticket offices in England has been scrapped after Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the Government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.

In Bolton the plans would have led to the permanent closure of 1,000 tickets offices across the country, with Farnworth, Lostock Parkway and Bromley Cross all listed amongst those facing the axe and the ticket office at Bolton Station in the town centre would operate under reduced hours.

The Bolton News: Campaign against the closures Image: NQ

This prompted a campaign by the Bolton Pensioners Association which lasted for months, with protests held outside Lostock, and Bolton Train Station.

Secretary of the Pensioners Association, Bernadette Gallagher said: “It is fantastic news for consumers and just goes to show the power of people coming together.

“It demonstrates that protests do work and lots of people can come together for a cause as it is strength in numbers and pressures the government.”

The group held a protest at Bolton Station in July,  saying how  ‘detrimental’ it would be for people to lose the ticket offices.

Bernadette said: “This has been one of the biggest protests with signatures that they had, so it shows the strength of feeling that people want people to serve them and not robots.

“They want to speak to staff members as they are fed up with it, so it is a good deal for consumers who use the ticket offices.

“If you are going to change it, you change it for the better and not do the detriment of the commuters.”

The Bolton News: Bolton Train Station

Bernadette and the pensioners association said ticket offices were used by pensioners and vulnerable adults as well as those who simply wanted to speak to a ‘human’ for more information.

Bernadette said: “People may have a disability of some kind, or they are older and cannot use a machine.

“I never used a machine because the officer can give you options that you cannot get otherwise, and it might be cheaper.”

The Rail Delivery Group initially said that just 12 per cent of tickets were sold from traditional offices last year, suggesting the ticket offices were not needed.

But Bernadette maintained that a choice should always be available.

Rail union TSSA also said it is delighted over the news.

TSSA General Secretary, Maryam Eslamdoust, said: “Our union has fought tooth and nail for many months to stop what would have been a catastrophe for our railways.

“We are delighted that the government has admitted defeat and scrapped these wrongheaded plans.

"It shows the power of our union and of the great British public in making sure these planned closures have now reached the end of the line.”

Mr Harper said: “The consultation on ticket offices has now ended, with the Government making clear to the rail industry throughout the process that any resulting proposals must meet a high threshold of serving passengers.

“We have engaged with accessibility groups throughout this process and listened carefully to passengers as well as my colleagues in Parliament.

“The proposals that have resulted from this process do not meet the high thresholds set by ministers, and so the Government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.”

"I am so glad to see the Government has chosen to listen to the passengers who rely on ticket offices to access rail travel. I'd like to congratulate everyone who campaigned on this issue, and thank all those who responded to the consultation.

Kirith Entwistle, Labour candidate for the Bolton North East constituency, who has supported the campaign to keep the ticket station at Bromley Cross open, welcomed the news.

She said: "The scrapping of the proposal to close ticket offices is welcome news, and just goes to show how powerful people's voices can be.

"We need to remember how much those who are elderly, vulnerable, and disabled rely on human interaction and support, and they must never be left behind.

"It can lead to people experiencing loneliness and social isolation, and for me, it is so important that we don't isolate people.

"I'll continue campaigning for greater accessibility at our train stations and am pleased to see the ticket office at Bromley Cross will remain open providing support and reassurance to passengers."

Alan Johnson, chair of the Pensioners Association, said that while he was pleased at the news, he wanted to know what the 'reduced' hours are that the station would run at.

He said: "I am pleased but it does say that Bolton Station's office will remain open at reduced hours, so I would like to know what these hours are.

"It is good that it will not shut after all the campaigns because a lot of people use the trains and it was clear they were in favour of the ticket offices remaining open.

"I was travelling recently and at the ticket office they told me if you went under these conditions it would be cheaper.

"A ticket machine would not tell you that."