RAIL bosses have poured cold water on fears that ticket offices in East Lancashire could close under projected cutbacks.

Union leaders fear the closure of one in four rail booking offices - including Accrington and Burnley Central - as part of a £3.5billion savings programme nationwide.

It is feared the cutbacks will have echoes of Dr Beeching’s infamous 1960s cuts, which saw stations like Daisyfield, Bacup and the original Clitheroe station cease operations.

But train operator Northern Rail is adamant it has no plans to axe any counters along the East Lancashire line.

Rail campaigners had voice concerns over the future of the Accrington office, which only reopened after a £2million overhaul just 14 months ago.

Burnley Central is the only other ticket office on the Colne to Blackburn line.

Last year Sir Roy McNulty recommended a number of cuts, including ticket office reductions in a ‘value-for-money’ study.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening has said she wants to offer passes for sale in shops and garages as part of a major overhaul of the current ticketing system.

Manuel Cortes, a Transport and Salaried Staff Association general secretary, said: “If the local booking office goes, then the station itself will not be far behind it.

“This will amount to a mini-Beeching with hundreds of stations in rural areas facing the threat of long-term closures.”

But a Northern Rail spokesman added: “We have no immediate plans to close any ticket office.

“However as the McNulty Review and subsequent Government Report highlight, we do recognise that passengers have differing preferences for how they buy their tickets.

“That is why over recent years we have improved our ticket offices and installed more ticket vending machines as well as launching our online ticket sales facility.

“We will continue to enhance our retail options for customers, acknowledging that it is not ‘one size fits all’.”