ANGER is growing over controversial proposals to close two rail station ticket offices in Inverclyde and slash opening hours at the district's busiest stops.

ScotRail announced a public consultation on a range of proposed changes, including plans to shut the booking offices at Cartsdyke and Woodhall.

Scottish Labour MSP Katy Clark has asked the Scottish Government to block the 'disastrous' plans.

In addition to the two closures, ticket offices at Greenock Central, Greenock West, Gourock, Port Glasgow and Wemyss Bay would close in the early evening most nights.

The most recent figures from the Office of Rail and Road show that despite a pandemic-related decline in footfall, these five stations are still Inverclyde's most-visited.

Monday to Thursday opening hours at Greenock Central would be dramatically cut, with the current 13 hours and 14 minutes being reduced to just over three hours – between 7.30am and 10.45am and 10.15am to 6pm on Fridays.

Greenock West's ticket office - which currently closes every day at 12.05am - would shut up shop as early as 2.15pm on Sundays.

Gourock ticket office is to change to 6.15am-4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 6.30am-7.15pm on Friday, with further reductions at weekends.

ScotRail say there will not be job losses or a reduction in services.

They added that customers are increasingly choosing to buy tickets online or from vending machines.

Phil Campbell, head of customer operations at ScotRail, said: “There has been no real review of our ticket office opening hours for 30 years, and it is important we keep up with the changing habits of customers who no longer rely on purchasing tickets in that way.

“With more than a 50 per cent drop in the use of ticket offices, heightened by the pandemic, we want to do everything we can to make sure everyone has a hassle-free journey.

“Nobody in ScotRail will lose their jobs as a result of these changes, and it is important to note that rather being about cutting jobs, this is about adding value for our staff and customers."

But MSP Ms Clark says she is very concerned by the cutbacks.

She told the Tele: “It is not credible to say vending machines can fill the void.

"Workers have a vital role in assisting passengers and answering enquiries.

“These plans will also increase anti-social behaviour and make people feel less safe, particularly women and vulnerable people during dark winter months.

“The Scottish Government needs to block these disastrous cuts and engage with passengers and trade unions to ensure a sustainable future for our railways.”

The news comes from just a month after ScotRail announced its intention to significantly reduce the number of daily journeys on the local network.

Under the proposed new timetable, the number of services between Monday and Friday from Glasgow to Gourock will have dropped by 27 per cent compared to the last equivalent summer timetable published prior to the pandemic.