Proposals to close three ScotRail ticket offices have been postponed following a Transport Focus survey, and some of the reductions in opening hours at other offices have been modified. ScotRail was planning to close the offices at Cartsdyke, Clydebank and Woodhall, but they will now stay open for at least two years. ScotRail said it would be carrying out a review ‘to consider whether new housing and incentives for businesses by local authorities will increase ticket office sales’. ScotRail will also be extending opening times at some of the other 117 stations included in its plans, although the extensions at individual stations such as Bellshill, Wemyss Bay, East Kilbride and Larbert will usually be an extra 10 or 15 minutes. ScotRail added that it will improve its proposals for stations serving hospitals ‘by broadly maintaining current staff hours at Dalmuir and Hyndland’. It will also open Wishaw ticket office on Sundays.
The RMT said only 1 per cent of the 1,550 respondents to the survey had been in favour of the proposed cuts. ScotRail will be effectively nationalised at the end of March, when the present Abellio contract will be terminated, and the union said it would now be writing to the First Minster and Transport Minister calling for the Scottish Government to ‘listen to the widespread opposition’ and shelve its plans entirely. The RMT has also been running its own petition against the closures and reductions in Scotland, and this has attracted nearly 3,000 signatures.
Work to lay double more of Ebbw Vale line to start in April
A scheme to double more of the Ebbw Vale line is set to start fully in April, although vegetation clearance has already begun. An investment of £70 million pounds funded by Blaenau Gwent Council, supported by a loan from the Welsh Government, will allow an hourly passenger service to run between Ebbw Vale Town and Newport, in addition to the existing trains to Cardiff Central. Signalling will be upgraded at the southern end of the line, and a second platform built at Llanhilleth and Newbridge.
Welsh Class 158 refurbishments completed
Transport for Wales has completed work to refurbish its fleet of Class 158 units. Work has been underway at Arriva Crewe since the start of 2020 to refurbish all 24 trains. The trains were originally built for longer-distance services on BR’s Regional Railways sector in the 1980s, and have now gained USB charging points, re-covered seats, new carpets and new interior fittings. The trains have also been rebranded in TfW’s grey and red livery.