RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has called the fight to stop the closure of ticket offices at railway stations a “fight for the future of our communities”.
Mr Lynch spoke in front of hundreds of people at a demonstration organised by the RMT union outside Downing Street on Thursday evening.
The protest comes on the eve of the final day of consultation on the controversial plans.
Addressing the crowd, Mr Lynch said: “It’s a fight for the future of our communities.
“People up and down this country are sick and tired of their communities being hollowed out.
“Our Post Offices are being closed, our pubs are being closed.
“Our banks have withdrawn from the High Street.
“Everywhere we go, all the community assets are being hollowed out in the name of profit, in the name of modernisation.”
Mr Lynch added that the trade union members will “stand up for themselves”.
“We’re going to stand up for ourselves, not rely on the professional politicians, and the shysters,” he said.
“Let’s have a working class movement that serves our interests that serves our people are waiting for our class solidarity.
“Let’s get in before the rain comes.
“There’s a storm coming. Make sure the Tories feel it.”
Rail unions and passenger groups have warned the closures would particularly affect disabled and elderly passengers.
While companies say many offices sell few tickets because of increasing online sales, and argue that moving staff from ticket offices on to station concourses will offer more help for passengers.
Damien Frettsome, 36, from Hinckley in Leicestershire, said a “huge portion” of people would be excluded from using the railway if ticket offices were closed.
“A huge portion of society, and different groups, wouldn’t be able to use the railway, or would have issues using the railway,” he said.
Londoner Elaine Bromon said that closing ticket offices was the “thin edge of the wedge”.
“I passionately believe in hanging onto the ticket offices for loads of reasons,” she said.
“I’m a Londoner, I live here, I watch people who can’t speak English grappling with the ticket offices.
“There’s people with disabilities… you’ve only got to leave your glasses at home and you can’t see the automated ticket office.
“To me it’s the thin edge of the wedge. I think this will go and then cash will go. It’s just one thing after another.”