By Bill Heaney
Jackie Baillie has told how she is furious ScotRail chiefs want to press ahead with planned cuts to ticket office operating hours.
The Dumbarton constituency MSP says the move will lead to people being forced out of using the railways at a time when this sustainable form of transport should be more, not less, accessible.
ScotRail yesterday (Thursday) confirmed the outcome of a consultation exercise carried out by Transport Focus. The results of which could see a reduced staff presence at Dumbarton Central, Alexandria, Balloch and Cardross.
At Helensburgh Central, ScotRail plan that staff will remain onsite for the current ticket office opening hours, but they may not be at the desk itself.
Ms Baillie, who participated in the consultation, says that people will be severely let down by the outcome.
She said: “In my response to the consultation I made clear the impact which these plans will have on my constituents at a time when the Scottish Government should be encouraging people to travel using sustainable methods, like trains.
“Instead, they want to continue to reduce the operating hours of ticket offices locally which will freeze people out of using the railways.
“Without the expertise and presence of staff at ticket offices, passengers will be forced to pay even more for already expensive tickets and safety will be severely compromised.
“ScotRail’s response also mentions strengthening staffing at tourist and leisure travel stations yet there is no mention of Balloch where, instead, it wants to cut operating hours.
“This is shameful especially after last summer when officers from British Transport Police were called in to deal with anti-social behaviour here.
“It is a double whammy for people travelling to work after the SNP/Green government this week pressed ahead with plans for a commuter tax which will hit people already struggling through a cost of living crisis.
“Nicola Sturgeon, whose government is set to take over ownership of the rail service in Scotland in coming weeks said she would await the consultation findings before any final decisions are made on the proposals. I will watch with interest to see what her response is and urge it to be the right one for the people of Dumbarton, Alexandria, Balloch, Cardross and Helensburgh.”