THE threat of closure hanging over Carnforth railway station's ticket office prompted more than 100 people to protest at a public meeting.

The strength of feeling at the town's Station Hotel showed just how unpopular shutting the counter would be among rail travellers, said Lancaster city councillor Peter Yates.

He told the Gazette he feared some passengers would be unable to get to grips with electronic ticket machines, and described the potential closure as a "backwards" step.

Lancashire County Council is considering the move as part of a drive to save £7 million. Transport information centres at Preston bus station, Nelson and Clitheroe would also be lost, as well as two members of staff at Morecambe Visitor Centre who provide help to travellers and tourists. The equivalent of ten full-time staff would be affected.

"We had a hell of a response," said Cllr Peter Yates of the public meeting.

"It's such an emotive subject because the ticket office has been so good and the station revolves around it.

"People think the world of the guys in the ticket office. They are such wonderful people and they help so much.

"We can't understand why we are going backwards when they want people to use the trains. People need help to use the trains. You only get so far with electronic equipment; you need contact with people talking to each other instead of just email and apps - it drives me bananas."

Carnforth's ticket office has been temporarily closed since 2017 for emergency building works, with customers buying tickets on-board from the conductor or online. Lancashire County Council's proposal would see the counter shut for good.

The public meeting was attended by fellow city councillors for Carnforth John Reynolds and Mel Guilding; town and county councillors; and representatives of rail user groups, including the Furness Line Community Rail Partnership.

Mr Yates added that the loss of rental income from the county council could potentially have an effect on the whole Carnforth station complex. The ticket office had been a massive success, he said. "It's a free service. They give travel advice, help you to buy the right ticket, they know the routes, they are so helpful, unbelievably good. I can't think of any ticket office as good as Carnforth. They are absolutely dedicated."

A period of consultation is taking place before the county council's Cabinet makes a final decision.