OVERTON and Whitchurch railway stations are both on a hit-list of 675 which could lose their ticket offices.

The proposals are in a Government-commissioned report on increased rail efficiency by Sir Roy McNulty.

If implemented, passengers would have to buy tickets from vending machines, which have been criticised for being difficult to use.

The study estimates that implementing the recommendations could deliver savings of between £700m and £1b annually by 2019.

However, a final decision on the closure of the station ticket offices will rest with the train operators.

Whitchurch ticket office is currently open from Monday to Friday between 6am and 11.15am, and is closed at the weekend.

Overton is open from 7am to 9.20am on Monday to Friday, and is also closed at the weekend.

Overton parish councillor Brian Langer said: “I would be very sorry to see it go. The machines don’t always issue you with the cheapest ticket and if you can go and talk face-to-face with someone that’s extremely helpful.”

Whitchurch borough councillor Keith Watts said: “It will be a bad day for Whitchurch if the station ticket office closes completely. Many special offers and discounts are not available through the ticket machines. This can only reduce the use of trains by local people.

“This will also mean that the station is unmanned. The present clerk at Whitchurch Station has done a lot to improve the ambience of the station and make the passengers feel welcome. We, the people of Whitchurch, need to fight for our railway station to remain open and alive.”

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “We are currently considering the findings of Sir Roy McNulty’s independent report and any of his proposed changes to rail fares or ticketing will be examined as part of a Government review.”