Fort and Mallaig rail station ticket offices escape cuts in opening hours

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It appears the ticket offices at both the West Highland Line rail stations in Fort William and Mallaig have escaped any proposed reduction to their opening hours as part of ScotRail’s just announced review.

ScotRail is proposing changes to ticket office opening hours at stations throughout the country – aimed it claims at delivering a better level of service for customers.

No members of staff would lose their job in this review of all customer-facing functions, and ScotRail says it will deliver improvements for people travelling and better meet the needs of rail users.

However, Kyle of Lochalsh booking office will see a few changes. While it will open a minute earlier from Monday to Friday at 9.45am, it will close on these days 35 minutes earlier at 4.15pm.

On Saturdays it will open 29 minutes earlier at 9.45am but also close 63 minutes earlier at a new finishing time of 4.15pm instead of the current 5.18pm. The station booking office does not open on Sundays.

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, ScotRail believes others will never be the same and the review will ensure the best possible service is provided to those using ScotRail services and stations.

This dramatic shift in customer patterns prompted the 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 tickets 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, is conducting a public consultation on behalf of ScotRail seeking the views of customers about the changes.

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.’

First to flag up the fact that neither Fort William or Mallaig stations were in line for a cut to their ticket office opening hours was Hege Hernaes at Glenfinnan Station Museum.

Commenting, Councillor Allan Henderson (Caol and Mallaig Ward) told the Lochaber Times: ‘Absolutely delighted and glad that we have people like Hege and John [Barnes] monitoring ScotRail and their services to the public.

Lochaber councillor Allan Henderson says doing nothing about the Corran Ferry is not an option. NO-F48-Allan-Henderson
Lochaber councillor Allan Henderson.
NO-F48-Allan-Henderson

‘However, I am sure ScotRail will eventually go the way of Stagecoach et al by only selling online.

‘The Hitrans way is to get joined up travel ticketing which will be computerised and probably more convenient than multiple tickets.

‘I believe the public see security in stations that are staffed with information freely available, rather than a malfunctioning intercom system that probably isn’t manned.’