The safety of staff and passengers could be jeopardised by plans to close ticket offices in stations across South London.

Balham, Wandsworth Common, Battersea Park and Tooting are all in line to see ticket offices close either completely or for several hours a day under modernisation proposals by Govia Thameslink Rail.

February 22: Consultation into railway ticket office closures across south London labelled "total chaos"

February 9: Train enthusiasts call for 'wave of carnage' ticket office closures at Epsom, Leatherhead and Ashtead to be reversed

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) have launched a campaign to keep the ticket offices open and they protested outside Balham station on Thursday morning, March 3.

RMT members are primarily concerned with safety, claiming it would be dangerous for stations to be left with just one member of staff for long periods of time, especially if they take cash for tickets sold from a handheld device.

Paul Cox, south east England organiser for the RMT, said: "Balham a few years back was very dangerous for public and for staff.

"The staffing levels at the moment are an asset to the public and the staff.

"They want to replace these with hosts who will sell tickets.

"People collecting, and then staying out in the open with, money is very dangerous."

Mr Cox said he was concerned that when station hosts took cash to pay for tickets, they would have to put it in a safe from time to time, exposing them to attacks.

He said that the level of assaults had gone down in Balham and he feared that would reverse.

Mr Cox said: "We still suffer assaults at the moment, and we are facing the prospect of staff being robbed.

"Everything is just on one member of staff who will be isolated.

"It just seems there are some places where it should not happen.

"Ticket sales justify the office but they want to re-educate the public to use machines.

"It is forcing people, people don't want it."

Other campaigners raised concerns for disabled passengers, explaining that currently, the ticket office is called when someone needs a ramp to exit the train, but with no one to answer the call or with that person dealing with another passenger, the ramp might not be put out.

Roger Perkins, for Southern, said: "The safety of our staff is one of our top priorities; we have an excellent safety record and will not undermine that. We will risk-assess all locations and take all steps necessary to provide our people with a safe working environment, as we do today.

"Furthermore, the point about these changes is that the new Station Hosts will be available for longer than the ticket office is staffed today which means that if someone requires a ramp at Balham, there will be someone available for longer, who is better connected with new technology, to take that message and arrange help as required.

"At Balham, by far the majority of tickets are sold at our ticket machines, because it falls within the London Travelcard Oyster zone. Our plans are simply to modernise the station to reflect the changing way people now buy their tickets and to improve the service we give our passengers. We want our staff to become more available and ensure there is a visible presence on our station concourses.

"On the concourse, they can help customers with all of their queries, provide information, offer assistance and have the ability sell tickets when needed, and at times of the day and days of the week when currently ticket offices are closed."