24 February 2022
RMT Press Office:
As Passenger Watchdog reveals that 99% of 1550 consultation responses opposed cuts to ScotRail ticket offices, RMT calls for Scottish Government to shelve cuts plan entirely.
As the Passenger Watchdog Transport Focus today revealed that just 1% of the 1550 respondents to the ScotRail ticket office consultation were in favour of the proposed cuts, RMT says it will be writing to the First Minster and Transport Minister calling for the Scottish Government to listen to the widespread opposition and shelve the plans entirely. The response also references RMT’s petition which has nearly 3000 signatures opposing the cuts.
ScotRail had been consulting on proposals to reduce ticket office opening hours at 117 stations, including the complete closure of three stations.
Passenger watchdog Transport Focus has today published its response to the consultation, which highlighted various grounds for opposition raised by respondents, including concerns around ticket sales, accessibility, access to NHS hospitals, anti-social behaviour and safety.
Because of the narrow criteria set by the Westminster Government, Transport Focus is unable to properly take these issues into account in its recommendations to the train company. However, last month the First Minister told the Scottish Parliament that her Government would‘await the consultation findings before any final decisions are made on the proposals’. The Transport Minister has since launched a ‘National Conversation’ about the future of ScotRail and as Transport Focus points out, this National Conversation must take into account the concerns expressed in response to the consultation.
RMT is therefore calling on the Scottish Government to take these wider issues into account and reject the intentionally narrow criteria set by the Westminster Government, and shelve all the proposed cuts in light of the issues raised in the consultation.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch is writing to the First Minster Nicola Sturgeon MSP and the Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth MSP to demand urgent assurances to this effect. RMT is meeting the Transport Minister next week and will be demanding confirmation at this meeting that she will scrap the proposed cuts in light of the numerous concerns raised in the Transport Focus consultation.
General Secretary Mick Lynch said:
“It was clear from the outset that this consultation was wholly misguided and should never have gone ahead.
"Consulting on massive cuts to ticket offices at a time when passenger numbers were restricted due to Covid-19 restrictions and with the franchise due to transfer into Scottish Government ownership in a matter of weeks appeared to be a disingenuous attempt to push through these cuts.
"The responses to the Transport Focus consultation from passengers, MSPs, MPs, local authorities, disabled organisations and various other groups make clear that there is nearly universal opposition to the proposals.
"Transport Focus’ response highlights various concerns from respondents including in relation to the impact on ticket sales, passenger accessibility, safety and security but the narrow criteria set by the Westminster Government mean it is unable to take these issues properly into account. The Scottish Government can ignore this Westminster constraint and instead keep ScotRail ticket offices open.
"Last month the First Minister told the Scottish Parliament that her Government would ‘await the consultation findings before any final decisions are made on the proposals’. RMT believes it is clear from the consultation that the cuts will not benefit passengers and is therefore calling on the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP and the new Transport Minster Jenny Gilruth MSP to scrap all these cuts. I will be writing to them both to seek urgent assurances on this.”
Notes for editors:
The consultation response is available at:https://www.transportfocus.org.uk/publication/scotrail-ticket-office-consultation/
The relevant transcript from the Scottish Parliament is available here -https://archive2021.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=13526&i=122768
RMT’s petition is here -https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-cuts-to-scotrail-ticket-offices