The Government has announced a U-turn over plans to close the vast majority of railway station ticket offices in England.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said train operators have been asked to withdraw the proposals as they “do not meet the high thresholds set by ministers”.

This is in response to watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch announcing they opposed every single planned closure due to issues such as the impact on accessibility.

The plans were brought forward by train operators in July with support from the Government, which has put pressure on the sector to cut costs.

At the time industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) proposed plans which could have led to the closure of nearly all offices, only leaving those open at the busiest stations. 

Ticket offices in stations in the likes of Colchester and Braintree were under threat after train operators unveiled plans to modernise the railway.

Under the plans from the Rail Delivery group, nearly 1,000 ticket offices could have closed, although facilities at Colchester North Station, Chelmsford, and Stansted Airport would have remained open.

Mark Leslie, chairman of the Kelvedon Rail Users Association, is delighted about the government’s U-turn. 

He said: “It’s just a case that the rail companies hadn’t bothered to listen to the passengers. 

“We, the rail user groups, told the tail companies that the passengers still wanted ticket offices and they came up with a lot of stats about no one using them." 

A public consultation attracted 750,000 responses to the issue with 99 per cent objecting to the closures, according to the passenger watchdogs managing the service. 

Mr Leslie added: “It’s not just buying tickets, it’s also wanting to go and ask a question about the best way to get somewhere, it is disabled people, like blind people wanting to ask the ticket man. 

“This is the best news for passengers and it’s a wakeup call to the rail companies that they need to, if they want to get us back, then they need to give passengers a decent service, which includes ticket offices.” 

Chairman of the Essex Rail Users, Derek Monnery, said: “I always knew it was a very ill-informed decision to try and close the ticket offices. Ticket offices are the ambassadors for the railway and removing them would have been a big mistake. 

“I think the middle-sized stations would have been the worst affected because large stations, they would have kept them anyway.

"But at middle-sized stations, it takes you five minutes to buy your ticket, trying to make it work, having a queue of people behind you. It was just totally unworkable.” 

Wivenhoe councillor Mark Cory has fought to keep the ticket office at the town’s station. 

He said: “It’s great news that public pressure and people power have won out on this. The government has had to listen, and u-turn and the train companies have to follow. 

“For smaller communities like Wivenhoe, it is really important we keep our ticket offices. For so many people, they are an important lifeline, especially for those with disabilities or those who aren’t so capable of accessing online services. 

“I believe that the plans were very discriminatory and would have harmed a lot of people, so I’m really pleased that the view turned.” 

But Linda McWilliams, councillor for the Bentleys and Frating, still sees an issue for passengers going forward. 

She said: “From what I’ve gathered, obviously, we have residents young and old, but they find it rather difficult because of the type of ticket that they have. 

“The good thing about it is that they are computerised and that means it can be changed. And you’ve got many people working on these issues and they’ll probably find us a way to overcoming those issues.”