South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused ScotRail bosses of using “misinformation” to justify plans to cut ticket office opening hours at Lockerbie railway station.
ScotRail recently carried a consultation over plans that would see changes in hours at 120 stations across Scotland including Lockerbie.
According to the ScotRail consultation document, Lockerbie Station would change from opening from 7.35-20.45 (Mon-Sat) to 7.00-20.20 (Mon-Sat). However, at present the office actually opens at 6.50 am- NOT 7.35 am as claimed by ScotRail.
Colin Smyth has accused rail bosses of using false times to give the impression that the office would soon be opening earlier to avoid any opposition to the plans which actually cut opening times.
With the ticket office also used as the waiting area and two busy trains leaving the station at 7.07 am to go north and trains south at 7.12 am then 7.26 am , Colin Smyth fears that under the proposed changes passengers arriving for early morning trains will be greeted by a locked waiting room and won’t have enough time to buy tickets before trains leave.
The local MSP also accused rail bosses of ignoring passenger safety by proposing to move the closing time for the ticket office from 8.45pm to 8.20 pm- despite the fact trains leave the station at 8.37 pm for Edinburgh and 8.44pm for Glasgow.
With trains travelling south from Lockerbie at 9.04 pm and 9.12 pm, the local MSP believes the opening hours should be extended until at least 9.15 pm, not cut.
Colin Smyth said, “As usual passengers from Lockerbie are being treated as second class.
“Routes have been slashed, fares hiked and now we see plans to cut opening hours for the waiting room and ticket office.
“Many passengers have to commute a distance to get to the station so often arrive well before the train. They will be met with a locked waiting room in all types of weather, hardly an incentive to use the train
“Opening the station at 7 am when there are three separate trains leaving within 20 minutes of each other including one just a few minutes after the station would open at 7 am leaves passengers very little time to buy a ticket.
“ScotRail say they are consulting on their plans but their use of misinformation suggesting the station will soon be opening earlier, when in fact the plan is to open later, is clearly designed to stop people complaining about the change in times.
“It also makes no sense from a safety point of view to kick people out of the waiting room at 8.20pm knowing that the next trains don’t depart until 8.37 pm then 8.44 pm. With trains running from the station just after 9 pm, they should be looking to extend hours not cut them.
“A lot of passengers aren’t even aware this consultation took place. Many people are still working from home so not using the train at present. The first they will know about these changes could be when they are implemented and passengers turn up to a locked waiting room and ticket office.
“We simply do not know yet what passenger numbers will be in the future until we start to move froward from the pandemic, so this whole consultation is premature and should be scrapped. The fact false information is being used as part of the consultation renders it useless.”