EXCELLENT news that the proposed closures of nearly all railway ticket offices have been derailed.

The proposals “did not meet the high thresholds” of serving passengers, said Transport Secretary Mark Harper on Tuesday.

This is the right decision but it is sad that much unnecessary worry has been caused to so many people. The offices in Winchester, Romsey, Micheldever would have been among those to close.

Rightly, no-one believed for a moment that relocating ticket office staff to platforms and concourses would “modernise customer service”. Modernise and worsen. It would simply have made rail travel a more stressful and difficult experience for the elderly, the disabled and the anxious. Over time those staff would have disappeared.

The Government had aimed to cut costs but were surprised by the strength of the opposition from almost everyone. Many people pointed out that closing offices would harm the quality of life of a huge number of people, using measurements that accountants do not consider. A staggering 750,000 people responded to the public consultation, so many that the Government had to listen.

Transport secretary Mark 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 £350 million funding through our Network North plan to improve accessibility at up to 100 stations.”

So the right decision but some Orwellian overtones there. Stations might be made more accessible with ramps and so forth. But not very accessible in reality for millions if there is no member of staff to help them on their journey.