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ScotRail review to deliver better experience for customers across Caithness and the rest of Scotland

By Ian Duncan

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A Scotrail train heads out of Inverness city centre on the northern line. Picture: Gary Anthony
A Scotrail train heads out of Inverness city centre on the northern line. Picture: Gary Anthony

ScotRail is proposing changes to ticket office opening hours at stations in the Highlands and the rest of the country.

The review is aimed at delivering a better level of service for customers and no members of staff would lose their job as a result.

It will cover all customer-facing functions and aims to deliver improvements for people travelling as well as better meeting the needs of rail users.

ScotRail is undertaking the wide-ranging review of customer operations, such as ticket office opening hours, as it looks to transform the railway following the impact of the pandemic.

While some aspects of the travelling patterns of customers will return, others will never be the same, and the review will ensure the best possible service is provided to those using ScotRail services and stations.

From the proposed changes Scotrail believes that it will:

• See less fare fraud and ticketless travel;

• Generate and protect more revenue;

• Reduce antisocial behaviour;

• Introduce new family friendly working hours and part time shifts which have not been prevalent in the past;

• Decrease CO2 emissions by around 102 tonnes each year from less heating and lighting;

The review does not mean job losses, or a reduction in services:

• There will be no change to the number or frequency of rail services that call at any stations;

• The Station teams will not lose their jobs. There will be a job for anyone who wants one;

• Customer safety will not be impacted by these changes;

• Passengers with specific mobility or access needs will continue to be supported.

Before the pandemic, customers were increasingly using online options or ticket vending machines, rather than ticket offices. There has been a 50 per cent drop in the use of ticket offices over the past 10 years, with the pandemic quickening that pace of change.

This dramatic shift in customer patterns prompted a review of the opening hours of ticket offices for the first time since 1991 to see if the needs of customers are still being met. The assessment has considered where there is a decline in ticket sales at stations, the opportunities that exist to reduce fraudulent travel, and how to increase revenue through more revenue protection teams.

Transport Focus, the independent watchdog for transport users, will conduct a public consultation on behalf of ScotRail seeking the views of customers about the changes we are proposing, which will begin tomorrow.

Customers can review the proposed changes at their stations via the ScotRail Ticket Office Consultation website.

The most significant benefit of the proposed changes is to deliver a financially and environmentally sustainable railway that will deliver value for money for customers and taxpayers.

Phil Campbell, head of customer operations, 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.

“With more than a 50 per cent 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.

“Nobody in ScotRail will lose their jobs as a result of these changes, and it is important to note that rather than being about cutting jobs, this is about adding value for our staff and customers.

“Over the coming weeks we’ll be talking to customers, staff, and stakeholders about the improvements they can expect to see and experience as they travel around Scotland’s Railway.”

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