ScotRail: 150 ticket offices closures in Fife in just four months - and this why they happened

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Scotrail ticket offices in Fife were closed 150 times in four months this year, according to figures given to councillors

Aberdour station has been the worst hit with approximately 35 closures between February and May - largely due to staff vacancies. On the other end of the scale, Inverkeithing was reportedly closed just four times in four months with Leuchars close behind on five

The data was given to Fife Council’s environment, transportation and climate change scrutiny committee, but John McBrinn, ScotRail’s regional customer operations manager, stressed not all of the instances spanned a full shift.

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“In the last four months we’ve had 150 incidents of stations not being fully staffed,” he said. “We count 13 stations including Edinburgh Gateway and Dalmeny as part of the Fife area. Three of those stations have more than one staff member on at a time. The rest only have one member of staff. We understand that anytime there’s a closure, there’s no one there for customers. That’s something we do try to avoid.”

The ticket office closure figures were given to councillors (Pic: TSPL)The ticket office closure figures were given to councillors (Pic: TSPL)
The ticket office closure figures were given to councillors (Pic: TSPL)

Mr McBrinn told the committee that not all of those closures represented a full shift. According to ScotRail, about half of all ticket office closures were for parts of shifts.

A spokesperson for ScotRail later confirmed that the closures in Fife have all largely been down to staff vacancies.

In October 2021, Mr McBrinn said ScotRail published a service review with 117 proposed changes - those included ticket office opening times and three ticket office closures spread across the whole of Scotland. The public consultation brought in criticism of the new plans. There were concerns about accessibility and about leaving some people behind in the shift towards digital technology.

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As a result, ScotRail has since withdrawn three ticket office closures and altered some of the proposed time changes based on the feedback. Those proposed changes are just now with the Scottish Government for review, but they've led ScotRail to holding vacancies.

“At the time, we did hold some vacancies because we were looking to change hours,” Mr McBrinn told the committee. We were looking to create more part time roles. We hoped to have a change in our workforce. That’s held us up and we only recently started to recruit again into these positions, so a number of the Fife stations have vacancies.”

ScotRail has since confirmed that things will be getting better for stations and customers in the region,

“That detail around part or full closures over the past four months is accurate, and that has been mainly due to vacancies in the area,” a spokesperson for the company said. “However, they have now all been filled, and that will see a significant improvement for customers.”

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ScotRail emphasised that customers can always buy tickets from its app or ticket machines, and support was available via its help points.

The spokesman added: “It is worth keeping in mind that many ScotRail stations do not have ticket offices, and customers at those stations use the aforementioned means of contacting ScotRail should they require it.”

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