A UNION fears plans for the ticket office at Queen Street station to be replaced by self-service machines could have health and safety implications in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rail union RMT is calling for a stop to the plan to axe the ticket office at the city centre travel hub which is currently undergoing a £100 million revamp.

They say Abellio ScotRail’s plans for the new station include just two open plan point of sale ‘pods’.

Prior to the redevelopment, RMT argue there were six ticket selling windows in the station travel shop.

RMT, also say they have serious concerns about the security and health and safety implications of the new layout, which are particularly pertinent since the outbreak of Covid-19

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Across the UK’s railways, train companies are attempting to cut station staffing, and Abellio Scotrail is no exception.

“In fact, the company’s latest accounts show that the number of station staff has decreased by 25% since the company took on the franchise.

“RMT intends to fight the proposed changes at Glasgow Queen Street with all the means at our disposal as we believe this is an attempt by the company to cut staffing costs and force passengers to use ticket vending machines and online ticketing rather than getting expert advice and information from the travel shop.”

The Glasgow Times first reported on this move in 2018. We revealed that the ticket office, which then employed 20 people, was operating out of the former Vale pub in Dundas Street while the redevelopment work was taking place.

A ScotRail source, however, said Queen Street has not operated with six ticket windows open for a number of years with more customers shifting to self-serve methods. It is understood that the maximum number of windows open at any given time is four, usually at peak times.

Phil Campbell, ScotRail’s Head of Customer Operations, said: “None of our staff are losing their jobs as a result of these changes. 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.

“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.”

The Glasgow Times also understands that the current location of the travel shop at Glasgow Queen Street has remained unchanged throughout the coronavirus pandemic as the project work paused.

But when it restarts the new travel shop will have robust social detaining measures in place.

While in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, ScotRail changed their cleaning regime to focus on the types of cleaning that best combat the spread of the virus. This includes regularly cleaning key touchpoints at stations like ticket machines and hand rails. On train cleaning focuses on grab rails, door buttons, tables, arm rests, taps, toilets and sink surfaces.

Cleaning staff have also been briefed on priority areas. While redeployed staff in some areas focus on cleaning.