CONTROVERSIAL plans to axe ticket offices at six railway stations in Tendring will go-ahead next week.

Train operator Greater Anglia is pushing ahead with proposals to close offices at Walton, Thorpe-le-Soken, Alresford, Great Bentley, Dovercourt and Harwich International.

They will be replaced by upgraded ticket machines from January 8.

Greater Anglia says no jobs will be lost.

Staff will be used as "mobile welcome hosts" covering stations on the line or work in other ticket offices.

Ticket office staff will remain at the stations for the first month to give support to any passengers who need help.

The proposed closures at stations with low ticket sales were revealed earlier this year.

Greater Anglia bosses carried out a consultation with passengers.

Customer service director Andrew Goodrum said: “We have consulted widely and done a lot of research before reaching this decision.

"We have also addressed the issues relating to assistance, station facilities and the process for implementing the changes that have been raised with us by key stakeholders such as Transport Focus and the MP Bernard Jenkin.

“Very few people are using the ticket office at these stations. We are confident that customers will receive a better level of service with the changes we are making.

“We are reacting to changes in the way people make purchases which can be seen across industries including retail and banking.

"The 24/7 assistance now available through the ticket machines is far more extensive than the much shorter periods the ticket offices have been open, whilst the new customer hosts will be more flexible and able to help out on the platforms."

He said the ticket machine service already operates successfully on other branch lines.

Greater Anglia says the new ticket machines will have a round-the-clock link to a member of staff and in some cases there will be staff on the station to help customers with tickets, information and other inquiries.

There will be three "welcome hosts" at Thorpe-le-Soken, one at Walton and two at Harwich International.

Walton councillor Delyth Miles has called for Clacton MP Giles Watling to lobby the secretary of state in a bid to reverse the closure.

Frinton and Walton Town Council is writing a "strong letter" of complaint to the train operator.