By Joshua Powling, Political Correspondent
Transport bosses could sound the death knell for staff at dozens of train stations across Greater Manchester next month.
The McNulty Report, commissioned by the Department of Transport earlier this year, recommended cutting all staff in Class E stations, which includes Salford Central, Ashton-under-Lyne, Levenshulme, Heaton Chapel, Reddish North and Hale.
There are at least 30 such stations in the Greater Manchester area, and the changes could leave them with only ticket machines.
Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, said: "This is a real blow for rail passengers all over Tameside, who are facing fare rises of 25% over the next three years.”
He added: “Unstaffed stations are far less secure, especially for passengers traveling late at night.”
While cutting the staff would mean significant savings for the rail industry, it could aversely affect people who are traveling to and from those stations.
David Sidebottom, director of Passenger Focus, the independent rail watchdog, said: “Many passengers prefer to use the ticket office to ensure that they buy the cheapest, valid fare.
“Ticket vending machines can’t do what staffed ticket offices can – not all machines sell the full range of tickets to all destinations, or any tickets at all to some destinations. Many do not provide details of ticket validities. Lots of passengers also find the machines physically difficult to operate, with some really struggling to use them at all.”
He added: “The closure of ticket offices will make passengers feel less safe and put them off from travelling by train.”
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), the union representing the station staff, vowed to fight the cuts.
With train fares rising Gerry Doherty, leader of the TSSA, called the latest plans a double whammy for rail passengers.
"Philip Hammond should come to the Dispatch Box in the next few days and give a clear undertaking that he is going to ditch these draconian cuts in services to passengers,” he said.
The organisation will launch a "SOS-Save our Station ticket offices" campaign, and will tour the party conferences over the next month.
To check if your local station is under threat of losing its ticketing staff, check our map.