Ticket offices could close at some Scottish railway stations as part of the first overhaul of the service in three decades, but critics have blasted the plans as ones which will hit passengers and undermine station safety.
ScotRail’s ticket office consultation said proposed changes would impact 120 stations, some will see minor changes, the operator said, but three ticket offices are for the axe and others could see reduced opening hours.
Phil Campbell, head of customer operations at the rail firm, said: “There has been no real review of our ticket office opening hours for 30 years, and it is important we keep up with the changing habits of customers who no longer rely on purchasing tickets in that way.”
He added: “With more than a 50% drop in the use of ticket offices, heightened by the pandemic, we want to do everything we can to make sure everyone has a hassle-free journey.”
Mr Campbell said there would be no job losses and the changes were “about adding value for our staff and customers”.
The proposals were announced on Tuesday and within hours came under fire.
Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby said that “ScotRail passengers are being left with a second-rate service”.
“Routes are being slashed, fares are being hiked and now ticket desks are being shut,” the MSP said.
“Whatever ScotRail might say, these cuts will hit passengers, threaten jobs and undermine station safety.”
ScotRail said the proposed changes would achieve a number of aims, including less fare fraud and ticketless travel, generate and protect more revenue, reduce antisocial behaviour, and decrease carbon emissions by about 102 tonnes each year from less heating and lighting.
And it said the review would not see a change in the number and frequency of services, that there would be a job for anyone in existing station teams who wants one, that customer safety would not be impacted, and passengers with mobility or access needs would continue to be supported.
Transport Focus will be conducting the public consultation from Wednesday on behalf of the rail operator and Robert Samson, stakeholder manager at the watchdog, 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.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The aim of this review is to make changes that will ensure the modernisation of Scotland’s stations and offer passengers a more efficient and cost effective service for the future.
“We would encourage passengers to get involved and we look forward to hearing Transport Focus’ findings in the coming weeks.”