Targeting fare dodgers saves £8,000 a day
A CRACKDOWN on fare dodgers has saved First ScotRail nearly £1.5 million in just six months - some £8,000 a day - The Scotsman can reveal.
Automatic ticket barriers and extra staff have generated the increased revenue, with further measures to follow. Barriers have been installed at three of Scotland's busiest stations, with four more to be covered by April.
Gates were introduced last year by First ScotRail's predecessors at Waverley and Haymarket stations in Edinburgh and Queen Street in Glasgow. The latter station alone saw tickets increase by 80 per cent.
The 100 "revenue protection" officers recruited over the past year are understood to have paid for themselves already.
Staffed ticket barriers were scrapped in Scotland 20 years ago to encourage more people to travel by train. However, this enabled many passengers to travel free because of the lack of ticket checks, especially when staff struggled to make their way through packed trains.
The gates were funded by the Scottish Executive, which will recoup the cost by reducing subsidies to the train company. The barriers will be extended to Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling and Ayr stations within four months. The expansion is part of First's franchise agreement with the Executive when it took over the seven-year train operating contract in October last year.
A spokesman for the Executive told The Scotsman: "The revenue recovered as a result of ticket barriers and extra staff was a major factor in [recovering] 1.5 million in subsidy from First ScotRail in the first six months of the franchise."
He said detailed revenue figures were commercially confidential to First ScotRail. The spokesman added that the firm had also honoured its commitment to install an additional eight ticket machines at stations and introduce 70 extra hand-held ticket machines for staff within a year of the start of the franchise. Three of the machines were installed at Glasgow Central, with others at Hairmyres, Mount Florida, Barrhead, Uddingston and Crossmyloof.
British Transport Police chief constable, Ian Johnston, has said ticket checks filter out criminals because they never paid for travel, and that ridding the railways of such passengers would make other people feel safer.
First ScotRail has also been considering issuing on-the-spot fines to passengers caught without tickets on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow route, where half of its passengers use intermediate stations which do not have automatic barriers, such as Linlithgow and Falkirk.
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