ScotRail Ticket Office Consultation

The consultation has now ended.

ScotRail currently operates more than 2,000 train services through 359 stations, of which 143 have staffed ticket offices across the country.

Opening hours for ticket offices have by and large remained unchanged in over 30 years in Scotland with all key information captured in Schedule 17 of the Ticket and Settling Agreement which applies to all train operating companies (TOCs) within the United Kingdom. Changes to these hours must follow a prescribed procedure which requires extensive analysis of ticket office usage, sales data, and consultation with a variety of stakeholders including customers and other TOC’s.

A comprehensive review of ticket offices has been conducted using the relevant guidance on changes to ticket office operating hours. This webpage now sets out further details and proposes a series of changes which ScotRail now wishes to consult on. The proposed changes would impact 120 stations. Some locations may see minor changes whilst other locations may see reduced opening hours to align with customer usage. No staff will lose their jobs and will instead be redeployed to provide enhanced customer service on the frontline. A total of three ticket offices are proposed to close but the stations will remain open with all other facilities remaining, such as ticket vending machines, help points where customers can speak to staff, and 24-hour CCTV.

It is important to note that the data used for the review was from 2019 and represents a period not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated fall in customer numbers.

Here are our findings and proposals following the review of ticket office opening times and sales...

Ticket office opening times have remained largely the same since the 1990s but during this period there has been significant investment in the station environment.

ScotRail has installed 355 ticket vending machines which, based on 2019 data, accounts for 26 per cent of all ticket sales. Increased usage and familiarity of the internet has opened up an entirely new retail channel, which in 2019 accounted for 18 per cent of all ticket sales. All train services have two members of staff on board - one driver and one ticket inspector. These factors have all contributed to a drop in ticket office usage over the past three decades. In 2011, ticket office sales accounted for 40 per cent of all transactions but by 2019 it dropped to 28 per cent. This means staff are not engaging with customers as often as we would like, through no fault of their own, and many stations are no longer busy enough to justify having staff behind a screen in a ticket office when they could be out helping customers. Currently the option for alternative deployment of staff is constrained from having to adhere to the opening hours from 1991 for each ticket office. ScotRail believes the current arrangements are inefficient, don’t put the customer first and are in need of modernisation to better support customers. Our review has also established that aligning ticket office hours with customer usage will also generate a saving of more than 75 tonnes of CO2 each year from unnecessarily heating and lighting.

ScotRail proposes to repurpose staff from less busy locations to enable the establishment of mobile on-train and station teams that better supports customers. ScotRail will still operate ticket offices at 140 stations.

This proposal will improve staff visibility, helpfulness, and increase passenger assistance beyond our larger stations. This deployment of staff would be much more flexible, customer centric, and better match customer purchasing and traveling habits in 2022 rather than 1991.

Much investment has been made over the years to improve the station environment of both staffed and unstaffed stations. This includes

  • CCTV at every station and monitored at customer service centres seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
  • Help points positioned at every station which are also linked to the customer service centres so customers can speak to a member of staff any time of the day.
  • Station information boards provide real-time updates on train times, including the stations at which they stop and highlight delays where applicable.
  • Ticket vending machines now located at 61 per cent of stations across the network.

Furthermore, customers have benefitted from the ScotRail app, which provides service updates and is a source of much information. Since the launch of the new ScotRail app on 1 July 2021, it has been installed 313,000 times and continues to grow at an average of 2,000 downloads per day. Likewise, the ScotRail website allows customers to book tickets, and view and download information such as timetables. The ScotRail website gets more than 4.8 million visits per year.

Smartcard and mTickets (tickets on your mobile phone) provide a digital ticketless travel solution which has proven to be popular with customers. Smartcards now account for 5 per cent of ticket purchases and mTickets, which were introduced on 1 July 2021, now account for 15 per cent of ticket purchases.

All these facilities and retail channels did not exist the last time ticket office hours were reviewed and amended. Such changes are now enabling customers to travel without the need to join a ticket office queue and have the most up-to-date travel information at their fingertips. ScotRail is very aware of the value of having ticket offices open and staff positioned at key locations, particularly during times of disruption, but it is important the right balance is achieved by having staff deployed in the right place at the right time. The current arrangements do not do this.

ScotRail wishes to repurpose the staff who work in stations at times when it is no longer busy and use them to move around the network as a visible presence at stations and on trains during times when customers need it most. This includes:

  • Customer assistance and additional ticket selling/checking at our busiest locations during busy periods to alleviate queues.
  • Collaborate with British Transport Police colleagues in managing antisocial behaviour and fare evasion.
  • Assist our revenue protection teams at barriers and on trains across the network.
  • Engage in wider community initiatives such as adopt a station, school safety initiatives and climate change / CO2 reduction.

It should be stressed that ScotRail is NOT conducting this exercise to reduce staff numbers and cut costs. Nobody will be out of a job as a result of these changes. This is about using the valuable resources we have in the best way to get the greatest benefit for our customers. Only by doing so can we make sure that we are positioning ScotRail as a responsible public transport provider who will serve the future interests of Scotland’s railway.