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Plans to close London Overground stations suspended

RAIL union RMT hailed a victory today after watchdog London TravelWatch suspended plans by Arriva Trains London to close ticket offices at 51 Overground stations.

The move by TravelWatch is believed to have been prompted by a deluge of thousands of objections from passengers to the plan. TravelWatch said it had received 7,500 objections.

A TravelWatch board meeting was told that, during a consultation period, the watchdog received 3,400 responses through an online questionnaire, 959 e-mails, 2,063 postcards and 31 written submissions.

TravelWatch received petitions from community groups and a trade union. There were also submissions from MPs, London Assembly Members, local authorities, councillors and rail user groups.

The TravelWatch board deferred a decision on the closures because of the volume of objections it needs to study.

RMT has been running an intense campaign against the proposed closures. The union welcomed the news, but it said the campaign would continue.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT welcomes the fact that London TravelWatch have been forced to recognise the strength of feeling on this matter due, in their own words, to an ‘unprecedented and overwhelming’ response to the proposed closures of London Overground ticket offices.

"This is by no means the end of the matter but shows that the campaign is winning and we will now be stepping up the pressure to secure a total reversal of the closure plans.”

He said RMT remains determined to halt the plans and he thanked the travelling public for their support.

Train drivers’ union Aslef welcomed the move. An Aslef spokesman said: "Aslef has always argued, and will always call, for properly staffed trains and properly staffed stations. That’s what passengers want and what everyone in the rail industry knows that we need."

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