Railway station ticket offices in England will not be shut, in a “shambolic” U-turn from the government.
Mark Harper, the transport secretary, announced on Tuesday the plan did not meet the “high threshold of serving passengers”.
Under proposals announced by rail operators in July, nearly every person-operated ticket office in the country was to be shut.
There are 1,007 stations in England and the industry said only 12% of tickets are now bought at offices at stations, compared to 85% in 1995.
The move to shut offices triggered widespread opposition from unions who argued it would lead to job losses, and disability groups who said it would make it harder for some people to travel.
Transport Focus, the independent watchdog for passengers, said today it opposed to plan having received 750,000 responses a call for evidence.
“Some train companies were unable to convince us about their ability to sell a full range of tickets, handle cash payments and avoid excessive queues at ticket machines,” it said.
“Passengers must be confident they can get help when needed and buy the right ticket in time for the right train.”
Harper said: “We have engaged with accessibility groups throughout this process and listened carefully to passengers as well as my colleagues in parliament.
“The proposals that have resulted from this process do not meet the high thresholds set by ministers, and so the government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.
“We will continue our work to reform our railways with the expansion of contactless Pay As You Go ticketing, making stations more accessible through our Access for All programme and £350m funding through our Network North plan to improve accessibility at up to 100 stations.”
Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said: “The Tories’ shambolic plans have fallen apart.
“They have finally admitted their damaging proposals put accessibility and jobs at risk.
“What an utterly colossal waste of time and taxpayers’ money, and another example of how this broken government’s time is up.”