ASLEF Response - Scotrail Ticket Offices
In early 2022 Scotrail laid out proposals to change the opening hours of its ticket offices, and to close a number of ticket offices at stations across the country. You can see the proposals here.
ASLEF responded to highlight the benefits of fully-staffed stations and highlighted the need to invest in, not cut, Scotland's railway.
You can read our joint report, A Vision for Scotland's Railways, here.
- The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) is the UK’s largest train driver’s union representing over 21,000 members in train operating companies and freight companies as well as London Underground and light rail systems. The union represents about 2000 members in Scotland.
- The union is pleased to have the opportunity to respond to this consultation on the future of ticket office provision at stations in Scotland. This is an important time for Scotland’s railways, which are on the cusp of returning to full public ownership. The union is strongly in favour of a publicly owned and operated railway, but is insistent that we must see investment and growth rather than cuts and closures.
- The union understands that this process must follow a specific procedure including assessing the number of tickets sold at different times across the various ticket offices and by other methods, and acknowledges the inclusion of this analysis in the document.
- While the statistics do show that there are fewer tickets being purchased at the ticket offices of some stations, we do not accept that this should be a reason to close the ticket offices down. Ticket offices are a reassuring presence at stations, available to passengers who may require any type of assistance. The presence of a member of staff is also a deterrent to anti-social behaviour and helps to make the station safer.
- With an increase in assaults at stations, coupled with a lack of other provisions – such as for young people who may resort to congregating in stations – this is not the time to be reducing staffing. Rather, staffing should be increased across the network to make Scotland’s railway and its stations as welcoming and safe as possible.
- ASLEF also acknowledges that the consultation document explains that there will be no net cuts to staff or the staffing budget across the network, due to redeployment of those staff members previously working in ticket offices at stations. Although we are encouraged that there is no intention to cut staffing in this proposal, it is clear that there is also no intention to increase and grow staff numbers which is what we would expect to see at this time.
- Rather than cuts to ticket office hours, ASLEF believes that Scotrail and the Scottish Government should be looking to invest further in Scotland’s railways. ASLEF’s report A Vision for Scotland’s Railways, produced in 2021 with our fellow rail unions, calls for a number of measures which would improve on and expand the railway, making way for new passengers, those switching from road to rail and the many environmental benefits that will bring.
- What is also obvious from the data is that some stations are only open for a few hours each day, tied to how many trains pass through the station and when passengers may arrive and depart the station. Rather than seeking to cut staffing at any of these stations, ASLEF would like to see proposals to increase the number of services running, improve their regularity and provide a fully staffed station for every community in Scotland.
- With nobody at the ticket office, some stations would be left completely unstaffed. This will inevitably cause problems in the case of any delays and cancellations. It is also very stressful for any passengers needed support or assistance as this would not be available at the station. An emergency contact centre accessed through a button on the platform is neither efficient nor reliable enough to provide the necessary support in the case of any incident, and therefore the union is concerned that lives could be lost due to a lack of station staff able to respond quickly to any issue that arises.
- Overall ASLEF does not believe that the proposals in the consultation document are the correct ones for Scotrail at this time. The railway in Scotland should be expanding, not contracting. This requires investment and an increase in both services and staffing in order that the people of Scotland can benefit from a publicly owned, safe and efficient railway fit for the twenty-first century.