TRADE unions have warned that plans to slash ticket office opening hours at railway stations in Ayrshire – and across Scotland – could put passengers’ safety at risk.

ScotRail announced last week that it planned to reduce the opening hours of ticket offices at stations across the country as a response to passengers’ changing travel habits.

Opening hours at the Kilmarnock ticket office would be cut under the plans, which would see the facility open from 0630-1730 Monday-Thursday, 0630-1900 Friday, 0715-1815 Saturday and 0910-1650 Sunday.

Current opening hours are from 0630-2335 Monday-Saturday and from 1015-2330 on Sunday.

But the proposals have been slammed by the RMT and TSSA unions.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “These proposals affect nearly all of the ticket offices in Scotland and will undoubtedly worsen passenger service and accessibility as well as turning many of our stations into a mugger’s paradise.”

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, said: “A travel and transport union are warning proposed, reduced booking office opening hours could have major repercussions.

It follows a Scotrail announcement detailing potential new ticket office hours following a review of ticket sales and usage.

Many stations will be effected by the proposed changes including nearby Kilmarnock station.

The office would close significantly earlier each day, with proposed hours being 0630-1730 Monday to Thursday with the same opening time on a Friday but with a later closing time of 1900.

Sunday hours would be the shortest with 0910-1650 the proposed ticket office operating hours.

Union Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) commented on the proposed changes.

General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, said: “This is completely the wrong step for growing numbers on Scotland’s railway. Closing booking offices and/or reducing their opening hours is a retrograde step.

“Booking office staff don’t just sell tickets, they help passengers on and off the trains and they keep stations safe for passengers – by salting and gritting platforms at this time of the year and by discouraging anti-social behaviour.

“ScotRail’s plans will make the railways feel less safe, particularly for women, especially in the darker months, and will result in an increase in anti-social behaviour. They will put people off travelling on Scotland’s railways, reducing fares revenue which could be invested in the railway, and cut the services Scottish passengers get.”

A ScotRail spokesperson said: “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.”