West Scotland MSP Katy Clark has called ScotRail’s plans to slash rail ticket office opening hours in Ayrshire and beyond “extraordinarily short sighted.”
ScotRail, run by Dutch state company Abellio, has announced proposals to reduce the opening hours of 120 of its 140 ticket offices – including Ayr, Kilmarnock and Irvine stations.
The proposals could see Ayrshire facilities closing up to six hours earlier.
Labor MSP Clark says the cuts will have a damaging effect on passenger safety, accessibility, staffing recruitment and passenger growth.
She has highlighted her concerns in a stinging letter to ScotRail and is not urging rail users to make their feeling clear in a public consultation that runs until February 2.
She said in the letter: “The Scottish Government has described Abellio as “no longer fit for purpose”, so it is ludicrous that the operator is seeking to implement cuts three months before it loses its contract.
“It is also extraordinarily short-sighted to close ticket offices given the vital public service function they perform.
“Women feel far less safe at an unstaffed station, especially late at night, and the same goes for people who are vulnerable.
“The consequences of these closures are particularly serious for those who are disabled and may require focused assistance.
“Scotrail staff are not just salespeople – they serve the local community in myriad ways. Any exercise that involves “cost-effective” service must not overlook this vital point.”
Scotrail say the proposals would have no impact on their Passenger Assist service – which provide help to customers who may need it.
They claim the number of passenger-assists that took place at all stations (covering time of day and volume), any instances of anti-social behaviour, and additional tasks carried out by staff such as gritting was examined as part of the review of ticket offices and ticket sales.
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A spokesperson said: “As part of the ticket office and ticket sales review ScotRail examined how our staff help with assisting passengers, any instances of anti-social behavior and the additional work carried out by staff.
“Since there will be no reduction in current staff numbers, there will be no impact on passengers who require assistance.”
Changes at Ayr station would see closing times change from 11.15pm to 8.30pm Monday through to Saturday; and from 11.05pm to 8pm on Sundays.
Kilmarnock station would see closing times change from 11.35pm Monday to Friday to 5.30pm between Monday and Thursday, 7pm on Friday and 6.15pm on Saturdays.
And Irvine station, which closes at 10.40pm from Monday to Saturday, would shut at 5.45pm Monday to Thursday; 6.45pm on Friday and 6.30pm on Saturday. Irvine’s current Sunday 6.25pm closing time would change to 4.30pm.
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