PLANS for a mass closure of railway station ticket offices in England have been announced.

Industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) unveiled proposals which could lead to nearly all offices being shut, with facilities only remaining open at the busiest stations.

It said moving ticket office staff on to station platforms and concourses would “modernise customer service”.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), which has been engaged in more than a year of strike action on the railways in a bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions, said “hundreds of redundancy notices” are being issued to ticket office staff.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch described the closure policy as “a savage attack on railway workers, their families and the travelling public”.

The RDG pledged there will be “more staff available to give face-to-face help”.

There are 1,007 stations in England run by train companies operating under contracts issued by the UK Government.

Posters are being displayed at the vast majority of these on Wednesday informing passengers about the potential closure of the ticket office.

Following a consultation, operators will select which offices they want to close, with the Transport Secretary making the final decision in cases where there is an objection by a passenger watchdog.

It is not known how quickly the first sites will close, but the programme is expected to last for three years.

The rail industry is under pressure from the Government to save money amid the drop in revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

West Midlands Railway say the proposals represent the biggest change to customer retailing since the 1990s, when 82 per cent of all tickets were sold at ticket offices, compared to just 12 per cent today.

A statement on West Midlands Railway says: “Under these plans ticket offices in their current form would close over the next three years, but we would retain hub stations across the network to facilitate the evolution of retail and the multi-skilling of staff to be available where customers most need them – on platforms and concourses to help with journey planning, finding the right ticket and supporting passengers with accessibility needs.

Mobile teams would move between stations and would be deployed to offer extra help where needed. Ticket vending machines will be upgraded to make sure customers can still buy the most popular tickets at stations and many staff will have hand-held devices. New customer ‘help’ points would also be introduced at stations as part of the proposals.