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Aviemore and Kingussie railway ticket office facing cuts in opening hours

By Tom Ramage

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Alarm at the prospect of reduced booking facilities for rail passengers who 'don't do computers' is growing in the strath as ScotRail launches a consultation period into proposed changes.

"This is sad news for Kingussie Station - can we fight this ?" asked the capital of Badenoch's community council chairman.

Ruaridh Ormiston is urging the community to "please reply to the ScotRail consultation if you can – Kingussie and Vicinity Community Council will be fighting this."

Kingussie Station
Kingussie Station

Proposals to reduce the opening hours of the strath’s two railway ticket offices are now under consideration.

The public consultation was launched on Wednesday into the plans which should they go-ahead would see Aviemore’s current hours of 7.30am to 9.25pm Monday to Friday cut to 7.30am-5pm.

Saturday’s opening from 7.35am to 2.39pm would be curtailed to 8am-2.30pm. Sunday’s hours would remain 9.40am to 5.20.

Kingussie’s current hours of 8.26am-2.30pm Monday to Friday would be cut to just 10am to 11.45am on Monday-Thursday and 8.45am-2pm on Friday.

Saturday’s hours would be cut from 8.26am-3.30pm to 9am-11.45am. Sundays would remain closed all day.

Opening hours for ticket offices have been virtually unchanged in three decades but a comprehensive review of ticket offices has been conducted.

'Can we fight this?' Kingussie Community Council chairman Ruaridh Ormiston
'Can we fight this?' Kingussie Community Council chairman Ruaridh Ormiston

The proposed changes would impact 118 other ticket offices across Scotland.

ScotRail has said there will be no job losses and the aim is to make their service more efficient.

Phil Campbell, head of customer operations, said: “Before the pandemic, we could see more and more customers were buying tickets online or at our ticket vending machines with fewer making use of our station ticket offices.

“Our ticket vending machines have doubled in use and there has been a 50 per cent drop in customers using our ticket offices over the past 10 years.

“The pandemic has only quickened the pace of change.

“This dramatic shift in customer patterns prompted a review of the opening hours of our ticket offices for the first time since 1991 to see if we are still meeting the needs of our customers.

“The most significant benefit of the proposed changes is that we will be doing all we can to operate an effective and efficient business which goes a long way to securing the future of the railway in Scotland.

“It’s not sustainable to keep the existing opening hours when so few customers are using our ticket offices.”

Staff are being told ‘there is a job for all ScotRail employees if they want one. Nobody is being made redundant’.

But rail union RMT said it is ‘wholly opposed’ to cuts which would make the service less accessible for disabled and elderly passengers.

General secretary Mick Lynch said: “Cuts to ticket office hours worsen passenger service, safety and security by reducing the times that staff are guaranteed to be present at stations and make it far easier for operators to reduce overall staffing levels in the future.,” said general secretary Mick Lynch.

“Failed operator Abellio has just weeks to go before it exits its role in Scotland’s railway.

“Why is Holyrood permitting it to propose more cuts that will harm Scotland’s railway?”

n The consultation period of 21 days is now under way and feedback can be given by either writing to Transport Focus Freepost (RTEH-XAGE-BYKZ), PO Box 5594, Southend on Sea, SS1 9PZ or by email to schedule17.sr@transportfocus.org.uk.

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