ScotRail plans to close or curb opening hours of 123 station ticket offices
ScotRail has announced plans to close three ticket offices and cut the opening hours of 120 of its 140 others after a big reduction in sales.
Scotland’s main train operator said there would be no redundancies, with staff redeployed to help tackle fare dodging instead.
It said ticket offices had seen business halved over the past ten years as more passengers bought tickets from vending machines and online.
Under a consultation to be launched on Wednesday, stations at Clydebank, Cartsdyke in Greenock and Woodhall, near Port Glasgow, would lose their ticket offices.
Reduced opening hours at all, but ten of ScotRail’s other ticket offices would include Kilmarnock’s closing at 5:30pm rather than 11:30pm.
Some stations would see only small changes, such as Bearsden’s ticket office closing about 25 minutes earlier than currently.
However, Paisley Gilmour Street, Scotland’s fourth busiest station, would have its office’s evening opening hours curtailed by up to nearly 90 minutes, closing between 9:45pm and 10pm.
Partick’s in Glasgow, the fifth busiest station, would close two-and-a-half hours earlier, at 9pm on all but Fridays and Saturdays.
The three ticket offices earmarked for closure are open from early morning to early afternoon at present.
ScotRail said it had based the proposals on ticket sales in 2019, pre-pandemic.
A spokesperson: “Keeping a ticket office open that sells only ten tickets a day is not the best use of people.
"The changes will enable more focus on revenue protection duties.”
In a report published in August last year, Professor Iain Docherty of the University of Stirling, the country’s leading transport academic, questioned “whether legacy business activities such as the provision of ticket offices is viable in future”.
However, ScotRail said its ticket offices review started before the report.
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, which represents ticket office staff, said: "Closing booking offices and/or reducing their opening hours is a retrograde step.
“ScotRail’s plans will make the railways feel less safe, particularly for women, especially in the darker months, and will result in an increase in anti-social behaviour.
"They will put people off travelling on Scotland's railways, reducing fares revenue which could be invested in the railway, and cut the services Scottish passengers get.”
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said: “Our position is clear – staff our stations and keep our booking offices open, for a safe, secure and accessible railway for all, including the most vulnerable people within society.”
Scotland organiser Mick Hogg said: “We will oppose any cuts to station jobs and the refusal to fill vacancies.
"We will oppose closing any ticket offices across the network.
“We will oppose lone working, casualising and de-skilling station jobs, and replacing staff with new technology."
Kevin Lindsay, Scotland organiser of train drivers’ union Aslef, said: “Ticket offices are often the hub of communities and the staff play a vital role on reducing anti-social behaviour, giving passengers assistance and helping them with enquires.
"It’s extremely disappointing that the Scottish Government is sanctioning cuts services and now ticket offices.”
Robert Samson, stakeholder manager for passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: “It’s important for people to have their say and we urge people to look at ScotRail’s proposals and provide us with comments.
"We will be considering comments from passengers on the changes to inform our response.”