PROTESTS have been held amid news train station ticket offices in Thurrock could close, despite some rail fares rocketing 4.2 per cent.

Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association union were at Grays and Chafford Hundred stations on Tuesday morning, revealing Thurrock could be one of the worst hit areas in the country if railway cost saving measures, highlighted in a report commissioned by the Government, are implemented.

Sir Roy McNulty’s ‘Realising the potential of GB rail’ report recommends the closure of ticket offices at category E stations, such as Chafford Hundred, East Tilbury, and Ockendon, and reduced opening hours at ticket offices of category D stations, such as Tilbury Town, Purfleet, and Stanford-le-Hope.

Grays would be the only station in the borough unaffected.

Sam Tarry, a community organiser for TSSA, said: “Next year could be the year of ghost stations and horror fares, with people having to pay more money for less service.

“We’ve had a really positive response from commuters this morning and we’ve given out more than 1,000 leaflets.

“The feedback is people want to see staffed train stations and lower fares.”

TSSA argues when ticket offices are closed passengers lose the chance to seek advice about planning journeys, cheaper tickets, and will be more at risk if they need help at a station, or get attacked.

The protest was also about rising rail fares, with regulated rail fares, such as season tickets, set to rise by an average of 4.2 per cent from January 2.

This means a commuter currently paying £2,484 to travel from Stanford-le-Hope to London Fenchurch Street this year, will pay £104 extra next year.

Labour councillor for West Thurrock and South Stifford, Victoria Holloway, was at Grays train station supporting the protest.

She said: “Unmanned stations and increased fares is something residents in Thurrock don’t want.

“It will cost some commuters more than £3,000 a year for a travelcard into London, which is a huge amount. It’s just not right.”

Commuter Daniel Rhodes, 23, from Aveley, was shocked to hear about the proposed increases.

He said: “I can’t believe rail fares are going up so much when hardly anyone’s salary is.

“As for closing ticket offices, I don’t think that’s a good idea – whenever I try and use the ticket machines at train stations they aren’t even working!”

A spokesman for c2c said: “c2c is finalising its unregulated fare prices for 2013, which we will announce shortly.”