SCOTRAIL's plans to shut down three ticket offices have been withdrawn after a series of protests.

Rail unions and campaign groups in Scotland united to fight cuts to ticket office opening hours.

A coalition representing workers, passengers, disabled people, environmentalists, women and pensioners protested against a plan by operator Abellio Scotrail to cut ticket office opening hours at 117 stations, and complete closure of three offices.

Scotrail, which returns to public control when Abellio’s franchise ends on March 31, said that no staff would lose their jobs as a result of any cuts.

ScotRail has confirmed that the proposed ticket offices planned for closure - Cartsdyke, Clydebank and Woodhall - will remain open for at least two years while ScotRail carries out a review to consider whether new housing and incentives for businesses by local authorities will increase ticket office sales.

Following a consutation, the train operator is now proposing to add back a total of 33 hours to ticket office opening times. This is mainly made up of an extra ten or fifteen minutes at some of the stations such as Bellshill, Wemyss Bay, East Kilbride and Larbert.

It was not immediately clear how many hours remain cut.

The train operator run by Dutch state-owned railway company Abellio had come under fire over plans to close ticket offices and slash opening hours.

The moves came as ScotRail confirmed that ticket vending machines now located at 61 per cent of stations across the network.

The proposals were to affect nearly all of ScotRail’s managed stations and equated to a cut of around a third of total ticket office hours across the affected stations which come under Scottish Government ownership next month.

Under the consultation ticket offices at Dalmarnock, Cardross and Wick would be shut at weekends.

Now ScotRail says it will also improve its proposals for stations that serve hospitals by broadly maintaining current staff hours at Dalmuir and Hyndland, and will also agree to open Wishaw ticket office on a Sunday giving a seven-day staff presence.

There were some 1,500 responses from the public to the consultation by Transport Focus on changes proposed to the opening hours.

HeraldScotland:

Phil Campbell, ScotRail head of customer operations said: “The changes we propose to make as a result of the public consultation demonstrate we are listening to our customers and creating an environment that improves safety, customer support, and the helpfulness of staff.

“The safety, comfort and wellbeing of our customers is a top priority, and we will always listen to what passengers and people who use our stations have to say.

“We believe this proposal takes into account most of the issues we identified as important in our original plan as well as the views of the public.

“We are on course to deliver a railway that is modern, safe, and reliable which will serve customers even better in the future.”

The train operator said it would also strengthen tourist and leisure travel ticket offices at Girvan, Thurso, Inverclyde, and Wick, deploying staff on-site beyond the current proposed hours.

It said it would retain current staffing hours at 51 of the 117 ticket office where it was proposed to change their hours.

It said that means at 51 stations the number of hours staff will be available to support customers at the station will not change, even if they are no longer behind the ticket office window.

It said it would also redeploy staff at 54 ticket offices to create three mobile teams and new high-profile customer support at Glasgow High Street, Paisley, and Partick stations.

The train operator confirmed that affected staff in ScotRail will not lose their jobs because of any changes to ticket office opening hours.

ScotRail originally said that it was proposing the changes to deliver a better level of service for customers and as it looks to "transform the railway following the impact of the pandemic".

The train operation franchise, which will be run next year by Scottish Rail Holdings, the state-controlled public body next month, said that before the pandemic customers were increasingly using online options or ticket vending machines, rather than ticket offices.

It said there had been a 50 per cent drop in the use of ticket offices over the past 10 years, with the pandemic quickening that pace of change.

ScotRail said that the "dramatic shift in customer patterns" prompted a 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.

Transport Focus, the independent watchdog for transport users, conducted the public consultation on behalf of ScotRail seeking the views of customers about the changes proposed.