Machine repairs dwarf thieves' haul

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RAIDERS who attacked ScotRail ticket machines have caused damage worth twice as much as the money they contained.

Four machines at stations, which each contained 2,000-3,000 in cash were left needing repairs costing up to 6,000 each after being forced open.

The Scotsman has learned that the raids have forced ScotRail to switch 100 machines – two-thirds of its network – to accepting cards only while they are redesigned to make them theft-proof.

The new wave of attacks comes after two men and a woman from Saltcoats in Ayrshire and Glasgow were arrested last September for allegedly stealing 50,000 from station ticket machines across Scotland.

ScotRail said British Transport Police investigations were continuing into the latest incidents, most of which happened in Strathclyde in February and March.

A spokeswoman said it was discussing improvements to the machines with the manufacturer and no decision had been taken over whether cash payments would be restored.

ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery said: "We have decided to withdraw the cash payment facility from a number of ticket vending machines until further notice.

"However, credit and debit cards can still be used.

"We apologise to customers for any inconvenience this may cause."

Mr Montgomery said in such cases, passengers could still buy discounted or special offer fares on trains, which is not normally permitted where they can be bought at stations.

James King, Scotland board member of Passenger Focus, the official watchdog, said: "We entirely understand this decision and ScotRail has assured us that anyone unable to buy tickets at a machine can do so on the train."