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Proposed cuts to Aviemore and Kingussie rail ticket offices included in consultation programme

By Tom Ramage

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Rail union RMT has condemned an announcement earlier today by Abellio ScotRail that it is proposing to cut opening hours at nearly all of its ticket offices across Scotland – including Aviemore and Kingussie.

The company has published proposals to reduce ticket office hours at 120 stations including the complete closure of three ticket offices.

FACING REDUCED HOURS: Aviemore Railway Station ticket office
FACING REDUCED HOURS: Aviemore Railway Station ticket office

RMT has confirmed that it is wholly opposed to cuts believing 'these will deter passengers from the rail network and make it less accessible for disabled and elderly passengers'.

The rail company insists that after decades of no change it is time to look at updating the service, with more and more people buying their tickets online.

The aim is to produce an improved service more in-keeping with the current situation, and rail bosses stressed the statistics being used to inform their decisions were collated before Covid decimated passenger numbers.

The union maintains that cuts to ticket office hours would 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.

A RMT spokesperson said: "The Scottish Government is already fully funding and managing the ScotRail franchise and will be directly operating it from April 2022.

Highland Line offices have been reviewed for first time in 30 years, say ScotRail
Highland Line offices have been reviewed for first time in 30 years, say ScotRail

"These short-sighted attacks on ticket offices make a mockery of the Scottish Government’s climate change and car reduction targets. RMT is therefore calling on the Scottish Government to intervene as a matter of urgency and withdraw these damaging proposals."

Under the consultation launched today, stations at Clydebank, Cartsdyke in Greenock and Woodhill, near Port Glasgow, would lose their ticket offices.

ScotRail has said there will be no job losses and the aim is to use staffing resources better.

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’.

Read all the details – and proposed local cuts – in tomorrow's Strathy.

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