Page last updated at 11:00 GMT, Monday, 16 February 2009

Fury at plans to axe ticket hours

National Express train
TSSA union leader wants the Government to reject the cuts

Union leaders have criticised plans to cut ticket office opening hours in National Express stations across the North East.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association TSSA said the plans would be "death by a thousand cuts" and passengers were being "short-changed".

Stations along the East Coast mainline are to be affected, including Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.

National Express said offices would not close because of the changes.

The union said 100 hours of ticket office opening hours were to be cut, with 12 stations in total being affected.

'Public service'

A National Express spokesman said: "We have been consulting with our staff and unions to make some changes to the way we staff our ticket offices at a number stations on the East Coast route.

There may be some minor changes to ticket office opening times. Any job losses which may result from these changes are already included in the previously announced 750 redundancies."

TSSA leader, Gerry Doherty, said: "This is death by a thousand cuts, first they cut jobs, then they close most of their restaurant cars and then they start rationing biscuits and water to their first class passengers.

"Now they are cutting back on ticket offices and forcing passengers to buy more expensive tickets from ticket machines.

"All these cuts are being made so National Express can pay Government a 1.4 billion premium for this franchise.

"If they cannot afford to provide a decent long distance service, they should simply hand the keys back and let ministers run it as a public service that puts passengers first."

The union is to urge Rail Minister Lord Adonis to reject the cutbacks which will need Government approval under the current franchise agreements.

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