THE transport workers' union has voiced concerns about planned "cuts" to ticket office space in the redeveloped Queen Street Station in Glasgow. 

Under plans drawn up by Abellio ScotRail, which manages the city centre station, will see customers served by members of staff at two open-plan ticket booth "pods".

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The RMT has raised concerns that the new ticket booths will make it harder for the 17 million passengers which pass through the station annually to socially distance but ScotRail say this is mitigated by the fact most customers do not buy tickets from staff, preferring self-service machines and online bookings. 

The new pods may not have screens separating staff from customers, though ScotRail say this will be dependent on government guidance when the pods are opened. Station and on-board staff members are required to wear face masks unless they are exempt per government guidance. 

HeraldScotland:

RMT Senior Assistant General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “RMT has serious concerns about the safety, security, accessibility and customer service implications of Abellio Scotrail’s proposals for Glasgow Queen Street station, particularly in light of Covid-19 and the need for social distancing.

"Reducing the sales points by two-thirds at one of Scotland’s busiest train stations will lead to a significant deterioration in the passenger experience, and it is clear that this part of an agenda to force passengers away from the expertise of a fully staffed ticket office.

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“It is disappointing that, so far, the Scottish Government has refused to intervene on these concerns. I have written to the Scottish Government today to demand that these damaging proposals are withdrawn and to call on Abellio Scotrail and Transport Scotland to commit to constructive and meaningful talks with the RMT on this matter.

“RMT will take all steps necessary to protect our members.”

ScotRail emphasised that the station has not operated with six ticket offices in a number of years and that the new pods would allow customers who need or prefer face-to-face interaction with a person when buying tickets to do so in an accessible way. 

Phil Campbell, ScotRail’s Head of Customer Operations, said: “The way our customers buy tickets is changing. Last year, 80 per cent of ticket sales were through customers buying online, smart ticketing, or using self-service ticket machines, which means we need to change to reflect that and support customers.

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“The redevelopment of Glasgow Queen Street station will see the introduction of new retail pods that are designed to meet customer needs now and in the future. This includes lower counters for wheelchair users, and the ability for staff to be face to face rather than behind a counter to provide reassurance and assistance.”

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said that the matter was for discussion between the union and ScotRail through "established processes and procedures for consultation, negotiations and meetings"

It comes after the RMT last week raised concerns that the introduction of pods could result in job losses. ScotRail has said there will be no reduction in staffing levels at the station.