Over 100 railway ticket offices are set to be closed or see their operating hours cut under plans by ministers to reduce costs in the industry.
Theresa Villiers announced that nine London Midland stations are likely to lose their offices completely, while seven train operators are looking to cut their hours, including at stations in Tunbridge Wells and Canterbury East.
Around 128 stations are being considered for the first round of cuts, which are part of a plan put forward by Sir Roy McNulty, who is calling for the closure of 752 smilers ticket offices as part of a bid to cut operating costs.
According to the Association of Train Operating Companies the number of tickets sold through the internet has more than trebled in the last five years, while machine sales nearly doubled over the same time frame.
In the same period the number of tickets sold at station ticket offices has dropped by 12% and now accounts for only 35% of the total sales.
But the planned cuts have not gone down well with passenger groups, who say that ticket offices and their staff are essential for people to make sure they are getting the best deal for their journeys.
Stephen Joseph, executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport, told the Telegraph
: "Plans to close ticket offices and cut staff in stations will mean passengers are left to fend for themselves when buying a ticket and will result in people paying over the odds for their journey," he said.
"Until the fares system is made simpler and fairer, passengers will need help in getting the best and cheapest ticket for their journey."
Anthony Smith, chief executive of consumer watchdog Passenger Focus, also told the paper: "Access to waiting rooms and lavatories can be affected by this sort of change.
" London Midland has sought to reduce the opening hours or close almost all of their ticket offices.
"We fear that this could lead to passengers feeling less safe at stations and paying more for their tickets than they should."
Rail unions have also expressed concern at about the subsequent problem of job losses.
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Discover some of the world's most beautiful train stations here:
- Grand Central Terminal, New York
Whether you're catching a train or just looking for an iconic place to visit, New York's Grand Central Terminal is a must-see if you're in the city. The Main Concourse has been featured in countless TV programmes and films, and is as romantic in reality as it is on screen, with the ceiling displaying its famous mural of the constellations. Around the station you'll find shops, upscale restaurants and a branch of the New York Transit Museum. Don't miss the Whispering Gallery in front of the Oyster Bar restaurant where you and a friend can stand at opposite corners of the arched entryway and whisper into the corners to hear each other's voices as if you were standing next to each other! The Biltmore Room, also known as the Kissing Room, is located below the former Biltmore Hotel and is known as being the place where passengers would get off the train and greet their loved ones with hugs and kisses.</p>
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai
Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, once named Victoria Terminus after Queen Victoria, is one of India's most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites and an architectural masterpiece, boasting a fusion of Victorian Gothic and traditional Indian style. As India's busiest railway station with millions of commuters using it every day, it serves suburban railway services and long distance trains. Don't miss the figures on top of the columns at the entry gates - the lion represents Britain and the tiger represents India.</p>
- Estacao de Sao Bento, Porto
The Sao Bento station in the city of Porto, Portugal is best known for its intricate tiles that adorn the walls of the vestibule. The 20,000 tiles dating from 1906 to 1916 were painted by Jorge Colaco, who was the most important azulejo painter at the time. They illustrate the evolution of transport and historical events in Portuguese life, such as the arrival of King John I and Philippa of Lancaster in Porto in 1387 and the Conquest of Ceuta in 1415. The 20th century station was built where the former Convent of Sao Bento de Ave-Maria was located and its glass and iron structure was designed by architect Marques da Silva.</p>
- Ushuaia Station, Argentina
Set in a valley on the banks of the Pipo River in the Tierra del Fuego National Park, Ushuaia Station is known as the End of the World station where prisoners were sent to labour camps in the 20th century. Today the station is popular with tourists who come to take in the spectacular views from the luxury steam train that leaves the station. The route takes passengers along the Pico Valley and the Cascada de la Macarena station to learn about the Yamana people. There's also a stop where you can climb to a viewpoint and get a closer look at the stunning surroundings.</p>
- Hua Hin Railway Station, Thailand
One of the oldest and most beautiful train stations in Thailand, Hua Hin Railway Station is well worth a visit to see its pretty Royal Waiting Room, which used to welcome King Rama VI. The wooden building was originally a royal pavilion located in the Sanamchan Palace in Nakom Pathom and was moved to Hua Hin in 1968. The Thai-style design is similar to the Maruekkhathayawan Palace - another must-see attraction for taking photos in Hua Hin. Behind the station you'll find the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course, which was the first to be built in Thailand.</p>
Image: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/takumi412/4354824059/" target="_blank">takumi.412</a>. Used under Creative Commons Licence CC BY 2.0.</p>
- CFM Railway Station, Maputo
With a striking mint-green exterior and large dome that was reportedly designed by Gustave Eiffel, the CFM Railway Station in the Mozambique capital of Maputo is a fine example of colonial-style architecture built in the 20th century. Historic steam locomotives are on show at the station and modern trains stop here daily. Be sure to check out the Chez Rangel jazz cafe inside the station, which is a popular night spot in the city. On most weekends you can enjoy live music or choose from the large collection of old jazz gramophone records.</p>
Image: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mvvermeulen/349052333/>MauritsV" target="_blank">MauritsV</a>. Used under Creative Commons Licence CC BY 2.0.</p>
- Divisadero Barrancas, Mexico
Looking for the train station with the most amazing view? Visit Mexico's Divisadero Barrancas, where the descent to the Urique River begins. The station is a stop off for the Copper Canyon train that takes passengers along one of the world's deepest canyons. Here you can admire the Tararecua, Urique and Del Cobre ravines, pose for photos at the canyon edge, and even try staring down into it, if you're brave enough! Be sure to grab a tortilla at the station once you've taken in the views - they're freshly cooked by Tarahumara Indians.</p>
- Haydarpasa Terminal, Istanbul
Turkey's busiest railway station Haydarpasa Terminal is also one of the country's architectural wonders, built on 1,100 wooden beams and surrounded by the sea on three sides. The neo-classical, castle-like structure in Istanbul's Kadikoy district was built in 1908 as a gift to the Sultan Abdulhamid II by his German ally Kaiser Wilhelm II. German and Italian stonemasons crafted the stunning facade, which consists of textured sandstone and a steep pitched roof. As well as welcoming passengers arriving in Istanbul from Anatolia, the station has its own ferry dock.</p>
- Kanazawa Station, Japan
The futuristic design of the Tsuzumi Gate at Kanazawa Station caused controversy when it was unveiled in 2005, due to it clashing with the traditional architecture of one of Japan's best-preserved castle towns. The modern entrance designed in the style of a hand drum and the Motenashi Dome, which was also revealed in 2005, have been popular with photographers and tourists in Kanazawa. The fountain in front of the station is another must-see as it has a digital-style clock displaying the time using water to form the digits.</p>
- Estacion de Madrid Atocha, Madrid
Ever seen a jungle in a train station? Head to Madrid's Atocha station, where you can check out its lush rainforest in an old cast-iron and glass building while you wait for your train leaving from the new terminal next door. The old terminal dates back to 1892 when it was redesigned by Alberto de Palacio Elissagne and Gustave Eiffel after a fire destroyed the original building. If relaxing among exotic trees and plants isn't enough, the historic building is also home to birds and turtles, shops, restaurants and a nightclub!</p>
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