Unions urge Nicola Sturgeon to halt ScotRail ticket office changes

Abellio ScotRail has been consulting on plans to reduce opening hours at 117 stations and close three.

Katharine Hay
Wednesday 02 February 2022 09:49
The First Minister is being urged to act to stop proposed changes to ticket office services in Scotland (PA)
The First Minister is being urged to act to stop proposed changes to ticket office services in Scotland (PA)

Unions have joined with other organisations to demand the First Minister scraps proposed changes to ScotRail ticket offices.

In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon they outlined their concerns about “damaging proposals” to close offices or reduce opening hours.

The letter, which has been signed by leading unions including the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, Aslef the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, Unite and the Scottish Trades Union Congress, was sent on Wednesday – the day public consultation on the plans closes.

Abellio ScotRail has been consulting on plans to reduce ticket office opening hours at 117 stations, and the closure of three ticket offices.

The letter read: “We believe these proposed cuts will worsen passenger service, accessibility, safety and security, and will hinder Scotland’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Other groups to have signed the letter include Disabled People Against Cuts, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Inclusion Scotland, the Scottish Pensioners’ Forum, the Scottish Women’s Convention, We Own It, Bring Back British Rail and Get Glasgow Moving.

The letter continues: “Already, disabled people are less likely to use the railways and these substantial cuts would worsen accessibility by significantly reducing the times that disabled and elderly passengers could guarantee that staff will be present at the station.

“The proposals would also lead to a worsening of the quality of services available to passengers at the times when it is proposed the ticket offices will be closed.

“There are various services provided at the ticket office which are not available at ticket vending machines (TVMs). Unlike ticket offices, TVMs also do not ensure that passengers get the cheapest ticket for their journey.”

The letter also highlights how the proposed cuts are at odds with the Scottish Government’s climate change targets and “will deter passengers from Scotland’s railway at a time when we should be encouraging passengers to switch to rail”.

It adds: “With just weeks to go until the Scottish Government is running the ScotRail franchise directly in public ownership, we call on you to scrap the proposed cuts to ScotRail ticket offices and instead commit to investing in an affordable, accessible, reliable and properly staffed rail network for Scotland.”

Transport Scotland has been contacted for comment.

Earlier this week, transport workers marched through Edinburgh to protest against rising fares and plans to close ticket offices.

Members of the RMT also voiced their opposition to Project Neptune, a review which could reportedly lead to routes on Scotland’s ferry network being privatised.

Union members carried flags and banners as they marched from Edinburgh Waverley station to Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence.

Politicians including Scottish Labour MSP Richard Leonard and Alba MP Kenny MacAskill joined the march.

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